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Quick Summertime Meals: They’re “Good” Enough!

Today’s post is by Kate Samela MS, RD, CSP author of Give Peas a Chance: The Fool-Proof Guide to Feeding Your Picky Toddler.


Kashi Coconut Lemongrass Chicken

Summer is upon us; heat, thunderstorms, and all. For me, that means babysitters, beach, and travel baseball.

Nothing screams busy like a summer travel sports team –especially when two members of the family are active participants. With daily practices or games starting before 5:00pm, dinner hour turns into Happy Hour at my house with food and drink being served starting at 4:00pm sharp. However, the happy part of the hour can quickly turn into not so happy if I haven’t made a plan and stocked the fridge accordingly.  There is little time to waste when I rush in from work– food needs to be easy, nutritious, and fast.  This can be hard if you are a stickler for home cooked meals like I am, and simply not willing to ALWAYS give in to the frozen pizzas and chicken tenders that can be filled with processed ingredients.

On my last outing to the grocery store, I was determined to find foods that could build a quick, kid approved summer meal in minutes – with minimal preparation.  The idea was not to strive for nutrition perfection, but rather to strike a balance between convenience and foods that are “good enough” to provide the calories and top nutrients active kids so desperately need.  For each of these “meals” I committed to having pre-cut fruit or veggies (or both) and a source of calcium on the side: For example, a 4 ounce yogurt container, 1 cheese stick, or ½ cup of 2% milk to maximize the nutrition in each bite.

Keep in mind that these summertime meals can be made for the whole family any night of the week. Try these meals during the times you allow yourself to stay outside until dusk and enjoy the season – and just don’t feel like being in the kitchen. Think appetizer style foods, and use prepared sides to give a boost of nutrition with the focus being on fruits and veggies. All foods can be prepared as directed on the package (the good thing is, you really only need a griddle, a spatula or a fork, and cooking oil for preparation!)

Quick, Healthy, and Convenient Summer Meals

  • Trader Joe’s Roasted Chicken Patty with 1 slice of American Cheese on a potato hamburger roll
  • Sliced tomatoes and cucumbers
  • Add condiments if desired (my son loves to dip the sandwich in BBQ Sauce).
  • Frozen potato pancakes
  • Applesauce
  • Cheddar Cheese Stick


  • Trader Joe’s Frozen Mozzarella Sticks
  • Side of tomato sauce for dipping
  • Sliced yellow and red peppers


  • Trader Joe’s Battered Fish Nuggets (baked)
  • Side of Baked BBQ potato chips
  • Cut up celery and carrot sticks with ranch dressing to dip


  • Roast beef Sliders:
  • Mini rolls
  • Italian Roast Beef
  • Neufchatel Cheese Spread (flavored with chives is yummy)
  • Spread the cheese on each side of roll and warm in oven for about 3-5 minutes; top with 1-2 slices of thin roast beef and serve with sliced melon.


  • Annie Chun’s Organic Chicken and Vegetable Pot-Stickers
  • Steamed Frozen Broccoli Florets
  • Brown Rice


  • Store bought premade turkey burgers (uncooked: cook on skillet or grill until internal temperature reaches about 150 degree’s) with lettuce, tomato, mustard
  • Swiss cheese
  • Whole grain hamburger roll
  • Sliced pickles


  • Moe’s Chicken Empanada’s
  • Favorite Salsa to dip
  • Sliced pineapple
What are your favorite quick summertime meals?



Kate Samela MS, RD, CSP has been a Registered Dietitian for 14 years and is board certified by the Commission on Dietetic Registration as a specialist in pediatric nutrition. She just published her first book, Give Peas a Chance: The Fool-Proof Guide to Feeding Your Picky Toddler (Sourcebooks 2013). After obtaining a Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, she spent the next ten years of her career working with children of all ages prescribing nutrition therapy and counseling families on feeding and nutrition; Kate has taught on the topic of pediatric nutrition to hundreds of medical, nursing, and dietetic students at premier children’s hospitals along the east coast. She has spoken nationally and published several articles on various topics of digestive health in nutrition and has been featured on ABC-CT, and Fox-CT News speaking on portion sizes for toddlers and preparing home-made baby food.  Kate currently works in a busy outpatient pediatric practice specializing in digestive diseases and nutrition. She resides in Connecticut with her husband and two children.

Read more of Kate’s thoughts on feeding toddlers at and like Give Peas a Chance on Facebook at a Chance. 

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