Eat Well, Spend Less During Your Insane Summer Schedule

This month in the Eat Well, Spend Less series we’re focusing on summer fun, or, in my case, a crazy and insane summer schedule. Can you still eat well when your days are crammed full of activities and work and plenty of swimming? Of course!

I’m not going to lie. This summer is going to be a difficult one. Between book promotion, the kids’ activities, summer camps, and Kiera’s schedule (OH MY GOODNESS, managing her schedule is a full-time job now that she’s headed to 7th grade) I am feeling a bit loaded down. Add to that all of the things I like to do during summer like camping, heading to the Boundary Waters, baseball games, picking berries, hosting barbecues, eating outside, and lots and lots of swimming, and I’m starting to wonder if I have officially lost my mind in thinking I’m going to pull this off.

Operation Eat Well When You’re Busy

In the midst of what felt like self-destruction, I kissed my eldest as she headed off to camp for the week and came up with a plan to keep my head on straight and keep us eating well. These are the makings of that plan.


I’ve said it before, but I truly believe that having a plan in place before you start the week makes you more successful. Make a menu for each week, and try to be conscious of the days you’re busy.

  • For us, we try to plan easy meals for days when we know we have to be somewhere at 6 p.m. or if we know there are other things going on that will make it hard to get things together. These are great days to have freezer meals to pop in or have some quick and easy options that take only minutes to prepare.
  • Don’t be afraid of leftovers. Obviously I love leftovers, and I continue to share recipes for how to make leftovers different on the site. Whether you’re making leftovers new again or just being sure to bulk cook in order to have something to reheat doesn’t matter. They are both options in menu planning.


Family meal prep should be a family activity, in my opinion. There are days when I am too busy or running around and can’t get to the meal. I need the kids and my husband to be on board and ready to help out in those cases. Having the menu plan available makes it easy for everyone to see what we’re making, and that reduces the chance that if I get held up or have something going on that we’ll order a pizza or head to takeout instead.

Backup Plan

I’m not perfect. We don’t always succeed at family meals being healthy and planned and scheduled. For those times, we fall back on a few places we trust to provide us with a decent meal. There are frugal options like Chipotle, which is usually first on our list for places to eat fast for the family, and then there are guilty pleasures, too. If we’ve been particularly good about eating at home, that usually means that we’re allowed a guilty pleasure when we run out of time or can’t get dinner together. I don’t mind treating the family to sushi every now and again, and they don’t mind eating it either.

Looking for more mealtime ideas? I shared a few strategies on how to make family mealtime fun and conversational with a table for of little people over on Goldfish Smiles. From the article, “The family dinner is something we do nightly, sitting down to talk and eat together, trying to instill in them some form of manners…’No, you may not eat mashed potatoes with your fingers.’ ‘Please refrain from painting the table with your egg yolk.‘” We use dinner as a time to come together and discuss not just what we each did that day, but to also talk about the food, flavors, and learning about the food we eat in an exciting way.

As always, you can check out what others are writing in the Eat Well, Spend Less series on summer fun:


  1. My summer is on a crash-course as well, I fear. I keep seeing people blog their summer bucket list and I’m just trying to keep my head above water, so I hear you on this one.

    • Bucket list? If I try to make a bucket list I may pass out. Here’s my revised bucket list for all the overachievers: Make it to Labor Day. 😉

  2. What a great list of tips Shaina! My summer is even crazier than the school year (how is that possible?) p.s. can your family be more adorable? xoxo

  3. Wonderful tips Shaina! It can be tricky balancing life with all the crazy summer fun.

  4. I just said the same thing to a friend – our summer is busier than our school year. Thanks for sharing your tips, and helping me feel like I’m not the only one feeling this way. 🙂

  5. I think we all feel that way sometimes! Just remember to cut yourself a little slack now and then!

  6. First, Shaina, I love your bucket list! I’m with Aimee in that I had intentions of putting together a bucket list for the summer, but what we started is pretty lame since it’s everything that we didn’t do last summer!

    This summer brought new twists to our schedule. Even though my life at a startup is at a point where I have more flexibility, there are still nights that I don’t get home for dinner. My son also has soccer two nights a week, plus weekend tournaments. Needless to say, family dinners don’t happen as often as we want, and I haven’t adjusted our meal plans to accommodate the leftovers we need to get through the week.

    There’s always next week, right? Planning our meals is key for us – without it, I’m confident we’d be at the store a lot more and get pretty scrappy with our meals.

  7. At first I thought that making weekly menus was somehow a bit extreme and so I’ve just been rolling on & eating pretty badly, as I’m too busy to organise myself when it comes to food lately…I’m now going to start!


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