Summer vacation is in full swing for many children across the country, which can be a very expensive proposition to most families. Between getaways to the beach, summer camp and other various entertainment activities, there isn’t much room in most budgets. Food also starts to become very expensive, when you start considering how much your children are eating in snacks and extra meals. That may not even be counting all of the other neighborhood children that are over frequently. But don’t fret, there are options that can help keep your monthly budget in order, without taking away from all of the fun summer activities. This first solution is going to seem so obvious, but is the most often over looked money saving activity. Whether it is because you don’t want to feel like a senior citizen, or because you don’t have the time, clipping coupons is highly over looked. I must admit that I most certainly fall into the category of over looking the junk mail circulars. My wife is the one who spends the time clipping out our savings. Whenever we go for our big orders, we end up saving almost as much as we spend. That’s several hundred dollars we save with each visit. She sits down, spends a half an hour or so making a list and we strictly follow it. In addition to making a list with coupons, plan out your entire week (or however often you shop) worth of menu items. Plan exactly what you will cook. This planning alone will save not only your budget, but a lot of time too. Parents frequently deal with the famous children’s expression “I’m bored.” It is inevitable that these words will be muttered by all children at least once during the course of their summer vacation. There are many options for how parents choose to deal with this expression, but here is one that a lot of parents over look. Have your children help you in the kitchen cooking. Incorporate them into the meal, so that they feel like they are contributing to the project instead of merely being an extra set of hands. This teaches them that not all food comes out of a package, along with showing that there is a substantial amount of work that goes into cooking dinner (or lunch for that matter). This will also teach respect for the food that they eat, all while making the meal that much more enjoyable for them to eat. After all, that is the one biggest benefit from cooking your own food, you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. While you have your children with you in the kitchen, start off by having them help make snacks for them and their friends. The internet is loaded with millions of recipes on how to make everything from trail mix to crackers all the way to home baked potato chips. One of my favorite snacks is to make some roasted spiced nuts. They are tasty, healthy and filling, while being very inexpensive to make at home. (In comparison to prepackaged snacks). Having your children help you in the kitchen during the summer is a great way to keep their mind alive, as cooking helps spark creativity. This eliminates the concern about their minds going soft while not in school. There are so many benefits to bringing children into the kitchen, that this should be done as frequently as possible. The best one, it’s entertaining the children without costing you anything outside of the cost of food, which you would be spending anyhow. All in all, cooking from scratch has many more benefits that ordering out or purchasing pre packaged meals. The flavor is more natural, the ingredients are a lot more healthy and you can control things like salt, sugar and expense. This brings families closer together, all the while you are accomplishing something that everyone needs to do - eat. I hope everyone finds this helpful, and please enjoy your summer.