Baseball Season is quickly approaching. We are getting ready to stock up on sunflower seeds and sun block. It's the crack of the bat, the cheer of the crowd - the "Safe" yelled by the umpire that we long for. What else does this mean......?
Concession stands, and hot dogs, long days at the ball field and a general lack of nutrition. Over the last 7 years of baseball teams and tournaments our family has become known as the ones who bring the crazy food. You know, protein shakes and gluten free cupcakes, chicken salad and carbonated juice, just in case anyone gets hungry. My children do not always appreciate the effort and we have been known to receive some funny looks depending on what comes out of the cooler, but I cannot in good conscience allow my family, on a repeated basis, to be subject to the lack of nutrition that is provided by the concession stand.
I am not putting down the concession stands, I think they have their place, I just do not believe that 3 meals a day coming from a box is the best choice. So, it is once again time to practice what I preach. There are many times I wish I could just relax and let my kids eat whatever was convenient, that I would be ok with running through the drive through on the way to practice or game, but I can't and I'm not. So it is time to pull out the cooler, ready the tailgate paraphernalia and begin the season of outdoor dining.
Below are some tips if you would like to join me in the quest.
1. Always think ahead - it is very hard to prepare for a 6-hour day, and meet everyone's needs at the last minute.
2. Staples to have on hand - sandwich meat, fruit, nuts, and healthy protein bars. We like Clif bars. I try to keep sugar and corn syrup out of the mix.
3. Use your crock-pot and your thermal containers. For early morning games we pre-make breakfast burritos, roll them in foil and keep them hot in a thermal container.
4. I also like to make baked potatoes and keep them warm in a crock-pot - my suburban has a plug that will keep the crock-pot on - if you don't have this you can get a converter from Radio Shack and use your cigarette lighter. I then make several toppings and keep them in the cooler.
5. Pack a plastic tablecloth and plenty of paper goods, once people see what you have they will want to join you. I also bring extra food.
6. Sodas are the biggest downfall at the games because the kids get tired of water, load the cooler with 100% juice boxes and fruit juice soda. We like Izze brand.
7. Give in once in a while - I let them splurge with a snow cone - but only at the end of the day. It keeps the asking to a minimum when I have already said yes and set the time line.
Baseball is a great tradition and a season looked forward to in our home. With proper preparation we can enjoy it even more knowing that we are building our immune systems with the food we eat.
So take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks (once in awhile)
And enjoy the game! PLAY BALL!