When fall rolls around, I begin to batten down the hatches and prepare for a storm … of sports! Autumn is one of our busiest times of the year. School and fall sports begin and those, coupled with our normal activities, leave us in a whirlwind of activities. I find myself dropping kids off at various places, with no down time to drive home and prepare a meal, let alone eat one. The spring sports season can be even worse! Some days, we only have 30 minutes to eat a meal between classes and that meal needs to be “on the go.”
Because I refuse to hit the drive-thru multiple times a week, I often need to pack dinner for us. Depending on where we are, we either “tailgate” (eat in the back of the car) or walk to a local park. All our dinners need to be filling, healthy, and easy to clean up.
What do I pack? We often eat:
- Sandwiches — peanut butter and honey are my kids’ favorite and easy to make. We take lunch meat and use little packets of condiments or put them in smaller, separate containers. I also pack lettuce and tomatoes separately so the sandwiches do not get soggy.
- Home-made lunchables — whole grain crackers, meat (lunch meat or chunks of leftover meat from dinner that they can eat with their fingers), cheese, fruit, and vegetables make a complete, filling meal.
- Cereal — No, really! Take a plastic container (one per person) and fill it with cereal. Pop on the lid. Carry milk in a thermos or buy a small container from a store. When you are ready for dinner, take off the lid, pour in milk, and eat! When you are done, the lid can go back on to keep leftover milk from spilling all over your container. Fruit (dried or whole) can help round out the meal.
- Cold pasta — My kids love cold pasta with a bit of cheese. It’s easy to pack and fairly easy to clean up if it spills. Avoid super messy sauces; a little drizzle of oil and some added veggies will nicely round out a meal.
- Hot dogs and chicken nuggets — Although not nearly as healthy as some other options, these are also easy to pack and serve. You can buy healthier versions of popular foods at many grocery stores. I cook them at home, pack everything in separate containers, and divide it up when we sit down to eat.
In an effort to make our dinners on the go more eco-friendly (and save a bit of money!), I grab silverware from the drawer and carry plastic plates with me. If we need to eat in the car, I hand the kids a divided container, like the ones from EasyLunchboxes. These containers are perfect for portioning out food, and they are easy to hold in their laps. Of course, reusable containers that you already own work well, too!
With everything packed in a cooler, we are ready for a healthy meal between games!
How do you feed your family during your own “busy season”?