Looking to create meaningful memories with your kids this summer without feeling stressed? A casual family cookout is perfect! Read on to see how to keep it no-fuss and simple!
Lately, I’ve seen this idea circulating around social media – that from the time our kids are born until the time they go off to college, we only have 18 summers with them. Think about that – 18 summers aren’t that many! Even though my twin boys are only 3 years old, that truth has really stuck with me… just 18 summers to make memories with them (well, we’re down to 15 already. See how fast it goes?!?)
Anyway, that reality has really motivated me to try to make summer count, even these summers in their early years. I know that can feel like a lot of pressure, but I’m a firm believer that some of the best memories come from the simple things. When I was a kid, one of my favorite things we did as a family was eat dinner outside during the summer. I don’t know why that always felt like such a special occasion, but when my mom told us we were having dinner outside, it felt like a huge event.
Bringing dinner outside is one way to add a little fun to summer, and it doesn’t have to be stressful or take a lot of planning at all. It can be casual, easy, and an outstanding memory-maker!
We did this just the other night with our boys, and they had such a blast. We invited our neighbors to join us, and it left us all feeling a little more connected – to each other and to our families. It is definitely something we’ll be doing again.
Having a casual dinner outside does not have to be complicated – here a few tips that helped us have a great time with little fuss!
1| Keep the food simple.
The kids will absolutely not care about a fancy menu. Eating outside is the real novelty. We kept it simple by having chips and salsa as an appetizer and grilling Ball Park® Hot Dogs. You can’t go wrong with hot dogs…they are the perfect BBQ food and there’s no wrong way to cook them. Kids love them, adults love them, and Ball Park® is our favorite brand. We got Ball Park® Hot Dogs and Ball Park® Hot Dog Buns at Walmart, so not only was dinner simple but inexpensive, too. My husband grilled up some vegetables as well – zucchini, onions, and peppers – and it was the perfect complement to the hot dogs and another way to get in some extra veggies. But really, even something as simple as potato chips as a side dish works fine, too. The idea is to keep it casual!
For desserts, I served the kids some homemade ice pops I had in the freezer, and with kids, you can never go wrong with ice pops.
2| Keep the drinks simple.
We try not to overload the kids with sugar, especially just a few hours before bedtime, so simple drinks without a lot of sugar are a must. For us, Lipton® Iced Tea Bags were perfect for a quick, casual cookout. With Lipton® Iced Tea Bags, boil water, let it steep for 5 minutes, add ice cubes, and it’s the perfect cold, summer drink. Buying the tea bags at Walmart gives you the most bang for the buck, and a few bags go a long way, so they are a money-saver as well. Having a big container of one drink like iced tea keeps it so simple! We threw in some slices of oranges and lemons, and NO extra sugar was needed. Delicious and refreshing!
3| Use paper plates and utensils.
Again, this is all about being simple. Nothing fancy. Paper is the way to go here. Clean up is so much easier, and it’s so much more motivating to eat outside when you know there’s hardly anything that needs to go in the dishwasher!
4| Have some kid-friendly activities ready to go.
There will probably be some lag time between BBQing and eating, so having something to keep the kids busy is super-helpful. Chances are – the backyard is already their play space, so this should take very little planning at all. For us, we just set out some chalk and filled their water table, and that was enough fun to keep them having a blast!
5| Invite a few neighbors.
This is something I’m sometimes hesitant to do because having twin toddlers is exhausting enough; throwing more people in the mix is sometimes overwhelming for me. However, by keeping things casual, it was really no trouble at all. My aim wasn’t to impress my neighbors with a fancy, Pinterest-worthy spread. It was just a simple, fun, no-nonsense dinner. The point was to be together and to make memories – which we did!
A casual family cookout is the perfect way to kick off summer – and it’s easy enough to do all summer long. If your kids are anything like I was as a kid, they’ll be asking to eat outside all the time. If you keep it simple enough, it’s really not much trouble at all to indulge them – they’ll think you’re Parent of the Year! And bonus for you – your kids will be SO tired after all the fun that bedtime will be a TON easier!
Using products like Ball Park® Hot Dogs and Lipton® Iced Tea Bags makes a casual family cookout so simple to pull off. And not only is Walmart fantastic for all of your BBQ needs, they have awesome recipes and ideas to help you make your summer count! Check it out here!