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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Saving Money on Food This Summer

Ahh, after a long winter, summer is finally here! Children are excited to be on summer vacation and adults are ready to enjoy the warmer temperatures. Even with the summer excitement, parents and childcare providers may be nervous about how their food costs will increase when children are home over the summer months.

Families may see an increase in food expenses during the summer for several reasons:
  • Children are not in school so do not participate in school breakfast and lunch. This adds to the food cost for all families, but especially for families that receive free and reduced priced school meals.
  • Families are "on the go" during the summer. They may be spending more time at the beach, pool, sporting events, or traveling. As a result, they may not always be home to eat.
  • Children may be purchasing more snack foods such as candy, chips, ice cream when they are away from home.
Here are three ways to stretch your food dollars this summer.

1. Summer Food Service Program

This program provides free nutritious meals to low income students when school is not in session. In 2016, there were more than 870 Summer School Food Service Programs in Minnesota. These programs server almost 3 million meals to children.

Summer meals may be served at the school, play grounds, community centers, Indian reservations, camps, and other locations. Depending on the site, breakfast or lunch may be served. Some sites even serve breakfast, lunch, and a snack! What a great way to stretch the summer food dollar. To find out if there is a Summer Food Service Program in your area, call 612-516-3663 or visit the Summer Meal Site Finder.

2. Planning Ahead

Warm sunny days in Minnesota are great times to get outdoors and enjoy parks, beaches, and pools. You may find you or family members would prefer to stay outside instead of being inside making meals. When you finally make it inside, you are hungry and don't feel like cooking so decide to order a pizza or eat out instead. This gets expensive.

It is helpful to plan ahead for the days you would prefer to be outside instead of in the kitchen. Keep foods on hand that are quick and easy to prepare. Spaghetti, salads, and cold meat sandwiches are quick and easy to make. Enjoy the wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to go along with any meal. For more ideas, check out The Recipe Box.

3. Snack Foods

Snack foods purchased at sporting events, concerts, the beach, or pool can be expensive. Keep a variety of healthy snacks foods in the car or by the door to "grab and go." A few ideas include trail mix, dried fruit, nuts, and crackers. Bring along your own water in a reusable water bottle. This will save you money and be good for the environment.

Eating healthy in the summer doesn't have to be expensive. Check into the resources in your community and remember to plan ahead for healthy meals and snacks.

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