Summer Buffet: A Quick & Easy Way to Feed Your Family

I love the laziness of summer days…well, except for the whole “feeding my kids all day long” part. I’ll be honest, it’s amazing to me the amount of food my kids can consume, not to mention their ability to do it in just five minutes flat.

Since summer can turn into constant grazing, I created a summer buffet with minimal effort we all can access whenever hunger strikes (and I know it strikes often- ahem!!!). Not only is it great to have food prepped for their constant hunger, but whether we’re eating at home or at the community pool we can tailor it to our own individual needs that day.

My summer buffet formula is to create a base (potato, greens, quinoa), plus protein (hard boiled eggs, turkey, ham, or roasted chicken) with a variety of great toppings (dressings, prepared veggies, fruits, cheeses, and nuts). With this simple formula and a little preparation on grocery day, I can be sitting in my lounge chair while my kids create their own masterpiece in the kitchen.

Base + Protein + Toppings = Summer Buffet Success

The beauty in a plan like this is that you can take advantage of what is on sale for the week to make a unique buffet each week. The other plus is that you can minimize food waste by actually using the food you are buying and even incorporate those leftovers into the mix as well.

Here are some quick tips to help with preparation:

Start with the base

Baked Potatoes: Wash and dry your potatoes. Pierce the skin several times with a knife or fork. Rub the skin with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt. Bake potatoes at 425 degrees for one hour. To reheat the potatoes in the microwave, you can either place it on a microwave-safe plate and heat on full power for one minute, and then checking for warmth as some pieces will heat unevenly.

Another option is to wrap it in a moist paper towel and microwave on high for two minutes and 30 seconds. Cut into the potato and check the middle for warmth. If it is not warmed all the way through, leave it halved, and microwave for an additional 45 seconds.

Quinoa: To prepare quinoa, the ratio is one cup of uncooked quinoa to two cups of liquid. I use chicken stock for added flavor. Bring quinoa and liquid to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Store in an airtight container.

Lettuce: Chop your lettuce and rinse and drain well in a salad spinner. Sandwich the greens between paper towels in an airtight container for optimal freshness.

Tortilla Wraps: You know we aren’t making these, right? I’m not that crazy!

Protein keeps kids feeling full

Lunch Meat: Chop up lunch meat for a quick and easy way to grab protein as a topping for your salads and quinoa bowls.

Hard Boiled Eggs: Hard boil eggs by placing your eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by an inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover, remove from the heat and set aside eight to 10 minutes. Hard-cooked eggs in the shell can be refrigerated up to one week. Peeled hard-boiled eggs can be stored in the refrigerator in a bowl of cold water to cover for about 1 week (change the water daily) – or in a sealed container without water (cover the eggs with damp paper towels) for the same length of time.

Top it all off with, uh, toppings

The only limit here is your own creativity. You can have tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower, onions, bell peppers, sunflower seeds, croutons, cheese, mushrooms, carrots, corn kernels, celery, beans, onions, artichoke hearts, avocado, broccoli, blueberries, strawberries, blue cheese crumbles, feta cheese, cheddar cheese and dressings….just to name a few fun ideas! Feel free to customize these to your kids individual tastes.

I hope you enjoy this summer buffet as much as we do. It’s especially food for those who are indulging in their fourth meal of the day! I know this preparation saves me time, money and helps reduce wasted food in our house.

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