Summertime: a time for day trips and picnics. Often though when out and about the choice is between whatever sugar and salt-laden overpriced food you can find, or bringing your own and eating slightly warm sandwiches whilst gulping down a lukewarm juice. It’s so important to keep well hydrated in the heat, especially for kids – but if you don’t provide an appealing alternative then they will often opt for an ice-cold soda to ‘refresh’. These actually end up raising blood sugar levels and not doing that good a job of rehydrating. Add in a bag of salty chips which will further dehydrate and you’re looking at a recipe for a meltdown in the heat – not the fun family day out you wanted!
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation!
If you don’t want to be at the mercy of fast-food options then it’s a good idea to pack your own meals and snacks in advance. It’s amazing how many fruits can be frozen – and still taste good either still frozen or as they defrost. Blueberries, grapes, and melon all freeze well – with the added bonus that if you pack a picnic hamper carefully they’ll also help keep other items fresh and cool. Remember that fruits with a high water content (like watermelon) are a great way to rehydrate as well as a yummy way to cool down!
Buy Organic Whenever You Can
One key benefit of bringing your own fruit is that you can ensure that you buy organic – not an option at many snack kiosks. Strawberries regularly top the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of fruit that contains the most pesticides, with apples, nectarines, and grapes not far behind. If you do have to purchase fruit whilst you’re out and about, bear in mind that non-organic fruits with a thicker skin (like pineapple or melon) are likely to have a lower pesticide content that soft fruits like strawberries and raspberries.
It’s great to have some ready-frozen snacks on hand all through summer, but what about when someone’s snaffled the last frozen grape? Consider investing in a portable ice-maker, that can quickly make ice to keep things cool, and easily transport it to ensure cold drinks on the move. They can be particularly useful on an RV trip, where you can ensure you keep a steady supply of ice ready to go.
A salad is a great, versatile option for a healthy lunch on a hot day – if you pack right! Leaving a dressing on leaves all day though is a recipe for a soggy salad: make sure you store the dressing in a separate container, and only add it once you’re ready to eat. Even better, bring the salad bar – pack pots of salad leaves, pre-chopped veggies, and toppings, and let everyone create their own custom salad. Pack bags of ice, frozen fruit, or frozen juice boxes and bottled water in between the pots and they’ll help keep everything fresh and cool – whilst also providing refreshment.
Keep Dessert On Ice
Ice-creams and popsicles are everywhere in the summer – let’s face it, they are a tasty way to cool down in the hot weather, but they are also usually full of sugar and additives. If you’d prefer to keep the kids (and grown-ups!) cool without the sugar high, then whip up a batch of homemade fruit pops – they’re quick to make, much healthier and are sure to go down a treat!
Sally has a passion for good, healthy living, and exercise. She is a mother who makes a packed lunch every day for her children. Over the years she’s picked up a few tips to keep their food really tasty and fresh despite the heat in their hometown.