I get serious spring fever from about spring break until school starts. The sunny weather makes me want to get out of the kitchen and do something, anything, other than cook. I also try to knock out projects in the summer, which puts cooking on the back burner. And our days are often filled with activities—for example, we spent a couple hours at the library yesterday. Oh, and the heat outside doesn’t inspire me to stand over a hot stove.
But I have a family of six to feed. Don’t get me wrong, they would love to eat out all the time, but that isn’t the wisest use of our money, and hungry teen boys can easily blow the food budget in a hurry. (Not to mention, restaurant food is generally lacking in fiber and vitamins.)
Our dinner super hero emerged
Coincidentally, one day this summer a friend gave us a veggie tray, like the kind from the grocery store that has been a staple of showers and receptions for years. I set it on the counter with the intention of refrigerating it, but within minutes my boys dove in. Thus, our summer dinner superhero emerged.
Lately, I buy ready-to-go veggies at Sam’s, like baby carrots, medley cherry tomatoes, baby bell peppers, and broccoli florets. Then I use them to make a couple of small trays of veggies, because it is easier to fit in the refrigerator that way. I pull them out for dinner and fix-your-own lunches. I refill them as needed, and I even pull them out when the boys are especially snacky. I also rotate some of the offering based on what is on sale and what is getting left behind.
For dinner, the veggie trays accompany easy entrees like grilled chicken, instant pot pintos, or pasta. For lunch, we grab the veggies to go alongside sandwiches and leftovers or toss them in chicken salad. Also, I pull the trays out as I start cooking, so anyone can grab veggies if they might starve before dinner. I don’t even put dip on my trays. Everyone in my family is old enough to pour salad dressing or grab hummus if they want something to go with their veggies.
The veggie tray has been a great solution for us this summer. Everyone can find something they like. I don’t find cooking so overwhelming since the veggies are already done. We also find ourselves throwing veggies into snacks or lunches that might have been without. Plus, the veggie trays have brought up sweet memories of past celebrations.
Our homemade veggie trays have definitely saved the day. Now, we just need to bring back the petit fours trays that used to be at every celebration.