Parent and child moments: Easy summer meals to cook together

Cooking with your kids creates lasting moments and traditions. Whether your family is full of cooking pros or you eat out more than in, easy summer meals can come in handy. Save time preparing food so that you can spend more time with the kids. My kids and I pondered to come up with our favorite easy summer meals to cook together. Because they are so simple, we can do them together, which gives us a great parent and child moment.

Customize your own pita pocket meals. This is a fun and easy meal that kids love making. Parents also love it because healthy ingredients can be used. Just about anything can go into a pita pocket. Dinnertime suggestions may include prepared pizza ingredients (heat to melt cheese), deli sandwich ingredients, salad ingredients, and much more. You and the kids are only limited to your imaginations with this one. Take out all the ingredients beforehand and let the kids build their own pita pockets, based on the items they would like to have inside them.

Personal pizzas with English muffins are easy and tasty. Everyone likes something different on their pizza. Everyone also wants to help. At least that's what happens in our home. To keep everyone's tastes in mind, while also letting everyone help, we decided English muffin pizzas were the best way to go. Provide a variety of ingredients so everyone can mix and match. Basic ingredients will of course be sauce and cheese. Some other toppings might be bell peppers, black olives, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, basil, sausage, and pineapple. After placing the sauce, cheese, and toppings onto the pizzas, they can be cooked in an oven (preheated at 400F) for about 10 minutes (or until brown). Watch the pizzas because sometimes they cook faster than 10 minutes.

Egg salad sandwiches don't have to be boring. Who says you have to stick to the same plain recipe when making egg salad sandwiches? Mix it up and throw in olives noodles, and more. Think that's too thick or too much like macaroni salad? You're right. You're not going to eat that on regular bread. Throw it in a pita pocket and enjoy! Another suggestion is to add different spices, such as cayenne pepper to liven it up. Kids don't like spicy? Try adding ham, pepperoni, cheese, or another ingredient your child likes. Check out your meat, cheese, condiment, spice, and vegetable selection to see what you can come up with. Parents may need to help their kids with cutting, slicing, and also boiling the eggs, depending on their ages and abilities. Safety first!

Make an ultimate food tray. Remember that I said make, not buy. Generally, the food trays you buy are limited in scope and cost more than making one yourself. You and the kids can gather various meats, cheeses, breads, crackers, veggies, fruits, and dips to make an ultimate tray. Veggies are great dipped in ranch or horseradish sauce. Fruits go well with yogurt, cream cheese, or homemade whipped cream. We always have homemade bread around and will generally use it for such occasions. If that's not you, crackers or store-bought french bread work just as well for making mini sandwiches. If you are using bread, it's best to cut it up into portions while laying out the food tray. If your family is large, like ours, you may actually need more than one tray for the food. Pickles, olives, and pickled jalapenos are great to have with these trays as well.

Does your family have favorite quick meals for the summer? How do they compare with ours? Please leave your suggestions below.

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