Summer has officially arrived in Chicago. In our house, that means we’re still running, except now there is no bus service and I’m the full time taxi. Since we don’t spend much time at home, that means we end up eating on the go because the wee ones get hungry with all that moving around, and they need snacks – and I do mean need. Fortunately, Mariano’s has a ton of great options, and my kitchen is officially stocked with snacks that should last us… a week. Or maybe less.
Even though we try to keep our summers fairly low key, we still end up running. A lot. The wee ones both do summer school from 8-12 every day through mid-July. Little Miss has gymnastics Mondays 1-3 and Tuesdays 1-4. They both have it Wednesdays 5-6. Mister Man does tae kwon do three days a week, usually two afternoons and Saturday morning. And then we hang at the pool whenever the weather cooperates – which it hasn’t much so far this year in Chicago!
Needless to say, snacks are key. And they have to be portable because a) I don’t want any messes in my car and b) it’s easiest if I can have a stash in my car to just hand out on the way to or from an activity. The wee ones are growing and burning a lot of calories with their activities, but each activity requires its own snack, I’ve discovered.
Summer school has a policy of only fresh fruit or vegetables. Fortunately, the wee ones love their fruit, so I can easily get that packed up for them before we head out the door. I learned a long time ago not to send messy fruit like cut up mangoes or watermelon. That’s just asking for trouble. Even the plums can be a little questionable, but strawberries are perfect. Apples and pears work great. And bananas are even better. We mix it up over the course of the week, with the wee ones choosing what fruit they want to bring. I love that they’re taking ownership of it!
During gymnastics, Little Miss gets hungry. Except they don’t have a true snack break, so I can’t send her with a traditional snack. I figured that out during the first week of her team practice when I sat there with a banana in my hand. Each time she got sent out for a water break, she’d sneak a bite of banana, too. I wasn’t about to do that again. Fortunately, I got smart by the second day, and now I just send her with a GoGo Squeez. It’s resealable, so she can just take a sip or two quickly then close it until the next water break. It’s just enough food to keep her from complaining that she’s starving without being too much in her tummy for gymnastics.
Before doing a strenuous activity where focus and energy is important, like gymnastics or tae kwon do, I make sure the wee ones have a snack that includes a lot of protein. If we’re home, I’ll make a chicken salad roll up or something along those lines. Often, we’re headed there straight from the pool or a playdate, however, so Clif Bars are my go to. The wee ones love them, and as long as they remember to throw away their trash when they exit the car, I love them, too. Part of the fun is having different flavors, which keeps the snacks “fresh” for the wee ones so they don’t get bored eating them, which makes my life a whole lot easier.
And when we go to the pool, well… that’s a whole different bag of tricks. Literally. I pack a soft sided cooler filled with snacks not just for us but for the friends we run into who “happen” to be hungry, too. I always include some fruit, something on a tortilla rolled up to serve as a main course, water, and then various other snacks from GoGo Squeez to more Clif Bars to pretzels and more. When we’re there for five or six hours, they always need something to eat, and I’d far rather be the one supplying the snacks than buying something unhealthy at a huge markup at the snack bar. It’s a lot faster than having to wait in line with all the other hungry kids, too!
Plus there are the playdates and the movies (Little Miss can’t eat any of the food in movie theaters unfortunately) and Fun Family Adventures like the strawberry picking we’re going to be doing later this week. It’s amazing how many snacks we go through, and I want to make sure I feel good about them. I love that #MyMarianos has a ton of great snacking options that are relatively healthy from the chick peas I roasted for Little Miss to the great selection of GoGo Squeez to the sushi bar (which yes, sushi is a snack food for the wee ones) and more.
We headed to Mariano’s last week to pick up some snacks for the upcoming week as part of a shop for #cbias, and the wee ones were beyond thrilled that I promised them they could pick out their own snacks. It’s one of my favorite stores because they have such great selection of items, and with their rewards card, the good prices become even better. This week included Clif Bars at 5 for $5, which made the wee ones happy.
When I suggested they make their own trail mix, they thought it was the best idea they’d ever heard. And once I showed them how you can choose an item from the bulk foods section, then weight it and place the sticker with the price on it, they were hooked.
I did place a few guidelines on the trail mix, explaining that there would be no straight candy in it and showing examples of premade trail mix in the bulk bins. They both ended up with a great selection of sweet and savory options to mix into their homemade trail mix. We found various nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruits, coconut, and more. Once we got everything home, they simply poured their favorites into a bowl, mixed it up, and put it in containers to munch on when needed.
So yeah, we’re busy. But we’re having fun this summer in Chicago, and that’s what matters. And after this Mariano’s trip to pick up snacks thanks to #cbias, I’m pretty sure I won’t have anyone whining because they’re hungry anytime soon! What do you usually pick up to snack on?