Summer is finally here and with it comes school holidays, which means having to stock up on the summertime every day essentials. No matter how you look at it, summer activities, entertaining - even just having the kids at home - can get expensive. But if done right, a well-stocked home will save you time and money by avoiding unnecessary and last-minute trips to the store, hitting the drive thru on a regular basis, or ordering take-out when unplanned guests stay for dinner.
Here are some of my personal tips to consider before you put your Summer Stock-Up List together:
Now that you know what you need to look for before putting your list together, here’s a sneak peak at the list of all the things I’m planning on having on hand this summer (chances are, you may need some of these things too since they are summer essentials for everyone!).
Summer is the time to be outside as much as possible. Whether it’s pool days, beach days, or family outings to the park, it's imperative to have sunscreen and bug spray on hand. Before school lets out for summer, find the best deal you can and stock up. I leave some at my parents, some at my in-laws, some in my purse, and some in a basket in my front hall closet so that I can always goop-up and spray the kids before heading on out on our next adventure.
If your house sees a steady stream of kids throughout the summer, you need to stock up on snacks. Be the cool snack mom! For summer, I keep a supply of frozen lemonade, freezer pops and breakfast popsicles in the freezer (awesome snacks that tastes like a treat but really aren’t!), veggies can be quickly cut up into a veggie tray, nacho chips and salsa, and of course a supply of fresh local fruit and berries that are the highlight of summer snacking (and baking!). For rainy days, I have a secret stash of popcorn just in case we need to turn on a movie and a few boxes of cake mix for easy homemade cookies.
Having the kids home and all of their friends over regularly makes it feel like someone is always in the bathroom. On top of hand soap, bandages for “owies” and pain relievers for inevitable headaches, be sure to stock up on toilet paper! In our home, you’ll find Charmin Basic, not only because it’s stronger and softer than other bargain brands (don’t let the word "basic" fool you!), but also because the price point means I don’t have to wait until it’s on sale to stock up.
If you have a pool, you’ll know how quickly a couple of friends over for a quick afternoon swim turns into hosting dinner for 10. Even if you don’t own a pool, we all inevitably find ourselves saying “why don’t you just stay for dinner?” at some point this summer. Do yourself a favour and whip up a few batches of these super easy homemade hamburgers for the freezer (cheaper, easier and healthier than most that come in the box!) and keep a stash of hotdogs, potatoes, condiments and fixings for a salad. Don’t forget the buns and cheese slices! When I need an alternative to BBQ, I raid my freezer for these homemade meatballs for a quick and easy spaghetti dinner and breakfast for dinner is always an option with this easy baked pancake recipe.
Whether you’re cleaning up after an impromptu dinner party, dealing with greasy BBQ grills or camping (one of our favourite summer activities!) makes sure you have a few bottles of Ultra Dawn readily available.
Bonus: Dawn has handy tips for cutting costs and reducing water and energy consumption when hand washing your dishes.
One of my kids’ favourite get-ready-for-summer activities is heading to the dollar store to stock up on beach toys. Last year’s toys are lost or broken so to prevent a trip to a super expensive tourist town corner store to pick up a bucket and shovel, I give my kids a budget and let them fill a bag full of beach toys from the dollar store. We have a designated “beach toy bag” that often sits in the trunk throughout the summer or on a hook right beside the door to the garage.
Mom Tip: If you have younger kids, pick up a couple of packages of water wings too!
Lemonade stands are not only a great keep-the-kids-entertained activity, they’re also a good lesson in entrepreneurship. So while at the dollar store, stock up on a few lemonade stand basics. If you’re following above, you’ll already have cans of frozen lemonade in the freezer, so all you need to pick up is a few re-usable plastic cups, a juice container (or two), a Bristol board, markers and stickers for the lemonade stand sign.
Take it from me, you need a secret stash of activities for “Mom...I’m bored” situations. Way up high on a shelf in my pantry, you’ll find a basket with a deck of cards, small canvases and paint, a new journal with stickers, a bag of Lego pieces and “guys” I’ve found laying around the house, new books and other random activities I picked up at the dollar store.
To save money on drinks and snacks, when we’re out and about, I like to pack water bottles for each of the kids and snacks in a cooler bag. But somehow, by the end of the school year, all the water bottles are cracked and leaking, the mini freezer packs seem to be missing and the lunchboxes smell like it’s time for replacements. Plan on having a small cooler bag, ice packs, water bottles and a few reusable container for your summer activities.
I do a lot more laundry in the summer. First, because the kids are outside so much, their clothes are always sweaty and dirty at the end of the day and the occasional water fight outside often means they’re changing their clothes mid-way through the day. Second, full confession – I love hanging laundry outside to dry during the summer so I look for excuses to do laundry on sunny days especially pillows, bed linens, quilts, sleeping bags, etc. But extra laundry does not mean extra spending when you buy Tide Simply Clean and Fresh. With twice the baking soda power to help get out tough grass and dirt stains there’s no need to pre-treat, one dose is always enough (even on the biggest and dirtiest loads) and it smells lovely too!
When I asked my friends what they stocked-up on before school lets out for summer, without missing a beat, every single one of them said wine. Clearly, this list would not be complete without the obvious and if you’re looking for adult beverage alternatives this summer, try some of my favourite gin cocktails and these pitcher drinks the next time company comes over.
Happy Summer Stock-Up Everyone!