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What will keep the kids occupied, generally happy and out of trouble?

How can I cajole them into helping with chores around the house and farm?

How will I get my job done — working from home while simultaneously managing extra bodies in the house during the day?

And, what will we eat? Every. Day. Three times. Each day. Ugh. Why does this feel different than packing school lunches? When it’s just Kevin and I, we can quickly scrounge leftovers, a salad or a sandwich for two people — but scrounging for four people? That’s different.

In our household, the bulk of meal planning, grocery shopping and preparation falls to me. That’s not because we have traditional gender defined roles here at all, but entirely because I’m terrible at fixing tractors, butchering chickens, building fences, hauling manure and most other farm tasks. I’d much rather run the household, the retail shop and the office.

[I will say that Kevin pitches in at every opportunity and has come a long way in his cooking, baking and cleaning skills since we married 25+ years ago. I can’t say the same for my farming skills.]

To alleviate my sense of dread and empower myself for the summer, I’ve made a list of summer lunch menus for when last night’s leftovers won’t do. My Lunch List gives us a nearly two week meal rotation with enough possible variations on a theme that we don’t get bored.

The meals are simple, quick, use items from the pantry and often, take leftovers and transform them for the next meal. I make sure the salad dressings are made and ingredients stocked and visible in the fridge so the kids can easily whip up a family lunch.

Maybe you will find this helpful for a summer lunch and/or dinner rotation:

  1. Hot dogs or sausage on a bun – along with veggie sticks and fruit. Easy peasy.
  2. Hamburgers – PVF beef ‘n bacon patties never fail to please.
  3. Wraps – use the leftover chicken or deli meat, shredded lettuce, tomato, ranch dressing. Done.
  4. Sandwiches – an arsenal of egg salad, deli meat, grilled cheese or simple PB&J made with fresh jam from summer fruit.
  5. Asian noodle steak salad – use leftover steak, cook rice noodles, toss with veggies and soy/rice vinegar/lime dressing. Light and lovely.
  6. Caesar salad and chicken fingers – PVF chicken breast fillet cooks quickly.
  7. Wieners and beans – PVF nitrite free and gluten free wieners save the day.
  8. Chicken or pork souvlaki, pita bread and Greek salad
  9. Quesadillas – vegetarian or with leftover meat, salsa and sour cream. Lots of options here.
  10. Taco salad
  11. BLT’s – they are a category unto themselves and when the fresh tomatoes are ready, we indulge.
  12. Chef’s Salad – it’s like the summer soup pot for leftovers. Take what’s in the fridge — vegetables (roasted or fresh), sliced leftover meat or chopped deli meat, boiled eggs, fresh snipped herbs, grated cheese, sprinkled nuts, your favourite salad dressing.
  13. For sides, fruit and vegetables are Nature’s fast food. I keep veggies and fruit washed, cut and ready. We shop the Farmer’s Market and buy from our neighbour’s orchard in summer so we eat as much fresh seasonal produce as possible! Fruit salad with cheese and bread always makes a light summer lunch.

How do you handle feeding the family in summer? Please share your ideas!

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