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This is a guest post from Dylan of HealthWellWise.com.

When it’s sweltering outside, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour over a hot stove. But subsist on snacks all summer long and you’ll be kicking yourself when winter comes and you already have a head start on holiday weight gain. Thankfully, you don’t have to be a slave to the kitchen to keep your family eating healthy over the hot summer months. Read on for ways to keep your family’s meals healthy, hydrating and simple this summer season. How to eat healthy all summer without going over budget.

Keep Breakfast and Lunch Easy

Your kids don’t want to wait around for a complicated meal when they have friends calling their name. And odds are, you’re not enthusiastic about whipping up a three-course breakfast either. Keep breakfasts and lunches easy and quick so everyone can get on with their day. Keeping early meals light also helps regulate body temperature. As BBC Good Food explains, digestion generates heat, thus contributing to overheating.

Smoothies are an easy and kid-friendly option for breakfast, and when you keep frozen fruit on hand, they can be made cheaply. However, a fruit-only smoothie is sorely lacking in protein. To up the protein in your breakfast smoothies, add a scoop of peanut butter, Greek yogurt, rolled oats or silken tofu. Greens, cucumber, celery and avocado are other healthy smoothie add-ins that are surprisingly tasty.

For lunch, you can’t go wrong with sandwiches. Fast, easy, and portable, sandwiches keep kids fed even if they’re too busy to sit down for a meal. Skip the sugary peanut butter and jelly and over-processed deli meats and instead opt for wholesome, yet affordable sandwiches such as egg salad, tuna salad and hummus and vegetable sandwiches.

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Think Chilled

Cooking dinner doesn’t have to mean serving up a hot meal. Summer is the time for shutting down the stove and serving up chilled meals that cool you down. Salads are an easy go-to and by maintaining a backyard salad garden, you can beat the high prices and low quality of store-bought greens. Just keep your garden in a partially shaded spot and harvest young to prevent greens from becoming bitter in the high heat.

Salads are hardly the only choice, at least if you’re thinking of the mixed greens salad. Cold bean salads are an awesome option for families on a budget. Cook up some beans once, and you can eat bean salads in a variety of inventive combinations all week. If beans give you digestive troubles, know that it takes a few weeks for your body to adjust to eating beans — but if you stick with it, your gut and your wallet will thank you.

Soups are another great option for chilled meals. From gazpacho to borscht, pea soup to peach soup, there are dozens of cold soup recipes to keep your family fed without weighing you down. Most soup recipes are budget-friendly, but if you want to take it a step further, try making your own broth out of kitchen scraps.

Choose Healthy Snacks

Some days, dinner just isn’t going to happen. Between a jam-packed schedule and the summer heat, snack-fueled days have to happen sometimes. However, that doesn’t mean you have to turn to greasy chips, sugar-loaded sweets or other unhealthy snacking options.

Because junk food snacking is the fastest way to tank your healthy eating habits, it’s important to arm yourself with easy, nutritious snacks. Aim to keep vitamin-rich snacks on hand at all times so kids can grab food when they need to refuel mid-afternoon and you can serve up something quick when crunched for time.

Fresh fruit, mixed nuts and snackable vegetables including sliced cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and baby carrots with dip are crowd-pleasing snacks that require next to no prep work. When you need something more filling, up the fiber, protein and healthy fats with snacks like a guacamole made with yogurt or sauerkraut, spiced and roasted chickpeas, or cottage cheese topped with fruit and nuts.

Related: 7 Ways to Make Your Produce Last Longer

Remember to Hydrate

What you drink in the summer is just as important as what you eat. Skip the sodas and fruit juices, which are loaded with unnecessary sugars and calories, and instead, keep yourself and your kids hydrated with plenty of water. Pick up reusable water bottles for everyone so it’s easy to stay hydrated on the go without wasting cash on bottled water. A reusable bottle also makes it easy to monitor how much you’re drinking throughout the day. If you get bored of plain water, toss in frozen berries, lemon and lime wedges or slices of cucumber for added flavor.

In addition to drinking fluids, eating water-rich foods keeps you hydrated when temperatures rise. These include the usual suspects such as soups and melons, as well as less obvious choices like cucumbers, celery, radish, zucchini, tomatoes and bell peppers. For more options, check out Shape’s list of hydrating foods.

Summer is not the time to labor over a hot stove, but your family can’t subsist on popsicles for three months straight either. As these suggestions demonstrate, eating well over the summer doesn’t have to be complicated, time-consuming, or expensive. However, it does require some planning ahead! To keep yourself out of the kitchen in the heat of the day, set aside one morning a week to prep meals and snacks. You’ll thank yourself when it’s noon, 95 degrees and your kids are demanding something to eat!

What are some of your favorite hacks for how to eat healthy all summer while staying on budget?


Dylan Foster is a writer at healthwellwise.com. He enjoys writing about topics related to how our homes affect our health and happiness. When he isn’t writing for the website, he works as an office assistant and enjoys hiking local trails with his dog, Samson.

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