School is out and summer is officially here. With all the fun activities you have planned for your family, maintaining healthy habits may seem like a challenge. Summer activities and gatherings can be full of unhealthy foods, but with the right knowledge you can keep your family energized all season long.

Summer Camp Lunches

Many summer camp programs require children to bring their own lunch. Try these lunch-box friendly items that your child won't want to trade away:

  • Whole grain bread spread with a nut or seed butter (peanut, sunflower, soy and hazelnut)
  • String cheese or small yogurt cup (freeze ahead so it stays cool until lunch)
  • Homemade muffins (banana, zucchini, pumpkin)
  • Trail mix: whole grain cereal, variety of nuts and seeds
  • Whole grain tortilla rolled with low-fat cheese slices (less of a food safety risk than lunch meat)
  • Roll up a whole grain tortilla spread with nut butter and a banana; slice into 1 inch pieces
  • Tortilla or pita spread with low-fat refried beans. Add a side container of salsa to dip.
  • Whole Fruit: whole small apples, tangerines, bananas, plums, peaches
  • Sliced fruit and vegetables: cucumbers, peppers, kiwi, pineapple, berries (cherries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries), grape tomatoes, celery, unsweetened applesauce cups, canned fruit in juice or water, grapes, and broccoli/cauliflower flowerettes. Dips of Italian dressing, salsa, hummus or bean dip are the safest.
  • Cooked pasta mixed with frozen vegetables (of course they thaw by lunch!) and olive oil or Italian dressing, grape tomatoes and shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Drinks: water or reusable water bottle filled with ice and unsweetened tea

Barbeque Basics

From the Fourth of July to Labor Day, there are many reasons to celebrate over the summer. Make sure your next get-together is a healthy one.

  • Be the person that brings the fruit salad! There are so many options this time of year; here are few ideas:
    • Watermelon slices just as is or fancy topped with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and chopped mint
    • Fresh berries paired with cubed low-fat cheese
    • A bowl of round or cubed melons: water, honeydew, cantaloupe
    • Pineapple or watermelon cut in half, scooped out and used as a bowl for cubed fruit and berries
    • Fruit kabobs of cubed melon, strawberries, grapes, and kiwi slices
  • Mini caprese salad of grape tomatoes and mini mozzarella balls (deli section) tossed with fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of pepper.
  • For the grill, don't forget the vegetables: thick slices of eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash with a swipe of oil and salt and pepper.
  • Grilled corn on the cob, salmon, turkey or veggie burgers are leaner than hot dogs and burgers
  • Try grilling pineapple slices, halved avocadoes (skin on, then remove after grilling) and mango slices. Serve on a platter, drizzle with lime juice and a healthy dessert is served.

Beach Blanket Picnic

Spending time at the beach is great way to keep kids moving on a budget. Pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it!

  • Keeping foods cold is priority for food safety, so rule #1 to avoid throwing food away is pack only enough for the day.
  • Fruit is very refreshing and provides liquid too. Grapes and whole fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and cherries) will last for the day, but melons quickly collect bacteria if sliced and allowed to sit in the sun for over an hour.
  • Instead of mayo-based salads from a deli (perishable and costly), pack sliced cucumbers, baby carrots and cherry tomatoes to snack on or make a bean salad of canned garbanzo beans, frozen or fresh green beans, and kidney beans tossed in Italian dressing with grape tomatoes.
  • Chips and pretzels can make us even thirstier out in the sun, so choose edamame pods, sugar snap peas and/or cold slices of fresh mango.

Theme Parks and Sporting Events

Going to theme parks and sporting events are always popular summertime activities, but food can be expensive and healthy choices are not always abundant. Save money and calories by bringing your own food and water. Each theme park and event may have different rules about what they allow, so be sure to check with the venue before you go.

  • Eat a nutritious meal at home before you go! Fuel up with eggs, fresh fruit, whole grain toast or cereal so no one starts the day at the park hungry as soon as you get in.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle with ice only-it melts of course and can taste cold with water fountain water added to it
  • Pack whole apples and oranges in your bag or purse for easy snacks
  • Make our own trail mix or bring a package of mixed nuts and seeds for an easy snack while waiting in line-less costly and more nutritious than many snacks at parks
  • Peanut butter or other nut butter on bread (jelly is too messy for a bag) with an apple and a water makes a quick lunch between rides.

Just Add Water

While your family is out having fun this summer, don't forget to keep everyone hydrated with water. Most places will allow you to bring at least one bottle of water per person which you can refill at a water fountain.

Find more tips for staying hydrated over the summer

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