Summer Dinner Strategies

picnic-plastic.jpgThe school year is finally over and one of my favorite things about the transition to summer involves food -- no more school lunches to pack and far less rushing around in relation to meals in general. But that doesn't mean meals -- particular dinnertime -- are easy...there's still the planning and the making and the inspiring kids to come to the table and eat something other than popsicles. As part of the Mom's the Word on Dinner conversation series via Momversation, last month I wrote and asked about summer food inspiration. Today I'm curious about summer dinner strategies. Here are a few things that we're doing differently (or planning on) around dinnertime now that summer is here. I'd love to hear about your summer dinner strategies as well!
Head outside. I love that summer means grilling, and being able to eat outside is fantastic because, well, it saves me the trouble of sweeping up crumbs and spills inside after dinner. I find that the change of venue also gets Laurel excited about mealtime.

Picnics. This summer I'm excited to pack picnics and head out to enjoy some green space beyond our backyard. I have a feeling Laurel will love helping me with the packing and preparing.

Nibble platters. Similar to how I like raiding the fridge for leftovers to make butler's salad, summer is perfect for what we call nibble platters. Instead of turning on the stove, we'll pull out all sorts of odds and ends (cheese, crackers, veggies, leftover chicken, pasta, etc.) and arrange them on a big platter. Not only does this strategy save on food waste and energy use, but we find that there's something lovely and communal and fun about picking dinner items off a big platter.

Celebrate veggies. The start of our CSA share really marks summer for us. And it has ended up being a fantastic inspiration point to talk about food with Laurel and encourage her to try new things. Thanks to the CSA, Laurel now eats foods such as cilantro and beets and is pretty much open to trying anything.

Encourage little cooks. One of the great things about moving into summer mode is not being as rushed around mealtimes. And I find that this is the perfect time to encourage little cooks, either as a helper or primary chef. I wrote last year about how letting go in the kitchen inspired Laurel to cook her first meal, and on our anniversary this year, Laurel made us dinner. So lovely! I recommend taking advantage of the looser summer schedule to allow your kids to experiment in the kitchen -- it can be as simple as assembling sandwiches and salads. We'll certainly be doing more of that this summer!

Those are a few things we're doing now that we're in summer mode and I'd love to hear if you've got other great summer dinner strategies. Please feel free to share in the comments or at the Ragú® Facebook page.

Image credit: Stoonn via

Christine Koh1 Comment