Let's Eat

How to feed your kids and keep them entertained this summer

Already plutzing about sky high summer holiday food bills? Read on...


School’s out for summer. Tantrums and meltdowns are taking place countrywide — and that’s just the Jewish mothers. The prospect of catering three meals a day (plus snacks) while fielding endless whines of “I’m starving” for at least six weeks is daunting for any of us.

The problem for many will not only be a sharp rise in weekly food bills (plus the cost of meals and snacks grabbed on days out) but also the problem of keeping the nosh (reasonably) healthy, as many of those snacks are far from nutritious.

Here are some tips on how to have fun with the kids this summer, watch the pennies and eat healthily:


1. Plan-it:

Meal planning is a great idea. Work out what you’ll be making each week, and buy only the groceries you need. You’ll be less likely to eat out or splurge on extra treats during an emergency supermarket run. Switching to online supermarket shopping can help you avoid those impulse purchases at the checkout especially with kids in tow. Plus, if you involve your kids in the meal planning that should mean less complaints about what you’re serving.


2. Discount dealings:

As you’re bound to eat out more, keep costs down with discount vouchers — try Martin Lewis’s site ( for current meal offers. When grocery shopping, try swapping to budget supermarkets, Lidl or Aldi and see what savings you can make on your weekly shop. Both do excellent deals on fruit and vegetables. Aldi do a super six each week — six fruits or vegetables that are seasonal and on special. For treats, both sell excellent quality (eating and cooking) chocolate that is super cheap.


3. Big cook, little cook, batch cook:

Cooking with the kids is a cheap activity that will also keep them amused. Choose the right recipes, and you’ll also be able to batch cook healthier meals and snacks to stash in the freezer for those days when you have zero time to spend in the kitchen. Mince (meat, Quorn or lentil) is my favourite standby as it’s so versatile. Cook up Bolognese sauce, shepherd’s pie, chilli or spice it up for tacos — always a kiddie favourite. 

4. Fake-away:

Don’t waste money on expensive takeaways. Get them to help you make their own healthier chicken nuggets, fish fingers or pizza. And for older kids, why not give them a budget and get them to shop and cook for you for a change?

5. Movie munchies: 
Cinema trips are notoriously pricey once you factor in the nosh. So if you head to the movies — for air-conditioned calm or to shelter from the rain — try making your own popcorn – so easy in the microwave or a big saucepan. Flavour it with salted butter and sugar for a salty sweet or add garlic or cinnamon or wasabi to butter before coating the corn in it. Or to fuel days out, pack a few home-made muffins and energy balls which are simple enough to make together. 

6. Suck it up:

Fizzy drinks are the devil’s work. It’s so easy to make your own, healthier drinks. Flavour your water with a few chunks of chopped up watermelon or strawberries; slices of lemon, cucumber or some mint leaves. Or dilute with some fresh juice to keep you hydrated and save money. Investing in a soda stream can save pennies too long term.

7. Get picky:

Check out your nearest local ‘pick your own’ farm. The kids love it, plus you’ll have the produce you’ve picked to cook at home later — two activities for the price of one. Courgettes, beetroot, tomatoes and strawberries and raspberries are all good now, plus children are more likely to try what they have picked and cooked. 

Follow my seven steps to a saner summer, and the savings should leave you feeling less guilty about buying occasional ice creams and smoothies in this hot weather; and hopefully leave you enough to toast your budgeting and cooking success with a glass of Pimms!


Find more tips and tricks on how to feed your children at Nicole’s Facebook page, Family Foodies


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