I remember the first time it happened. I came home from work and panicked, thinking that someone had come into the house. As I went from room to room, it became clear that the only room ransacked was the kitchen.
The pantry door was ajar along with most cabinet doors, and the trash bin overflowed onto the floor. Then the light bulb went on in my head, and I understood what happened.
School is out for summer. The boys had foraged through the kitchen like a swarm of locusts. The chips had no Zapp. The O’s had no cheer. Tony was not great. The almonds lost their joy. Snacks that would ordinarily last for a week were gone in a matter of hours. I knew a plan was needed quickly.
The plan for me was to have items that would fill them up. Not just snacks; I needed to load the fridge.
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For quick protein, I boiled a dozen eggs, peeled them, and placed them in a container. I also made a large pitcher of pancake batter. They would heat a skillet, pour in batter, and add blueberries, strawberries, chocolate chips, or whatever they had the taste for.
I cooked pasta al dente, rinsed it with cold water, drizzled with olive oil and put it in a ziplock bag. Now they can grab it from the fridge, place a portion in a bowl, microwave it, then add a bit of butter and parmesan cheese.
I also kept a container of rotisserie chicken that was pulled off the bone and another of boiled shrimp. Either of these was great with the pasta.
Finally, I loaded the fridge with apples, navel oranges, satsumas, plums, peaches and grapes because this is a quick grab of nature’s candy.
Find the things your kids like with directions and instructions on finding their way around the kitchen. With school out, we don't need as many snacks as would go into their lunch.
These are two easy, make-ahead recipes that can live in the fridge for a grab and go. And don’t forget: With hurricane season, start eating out of your freezer.
Cinnamon Sugar Muffins
1½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
5 tablespoon butter, melted, plus more to grease the pan
1 egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
½ cup warm milk
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
⅓ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoon butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 12-count, non-stick muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
3. Add warm milk, lightly beaten egg, and 5 tbsp. melted butter and stir until combined.
4. Divide the batter into your prepared pan using a spoon or ice cream scoop. Each cup will be about 1/3 full.
5. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden at the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. For the topping, in a small bowl, mix 1/3 cup of sugar with cinnamon. In a second small bowl, melt your remaining 3 tbsp. butter.
7. Dip warm muffin tops briefly in melted butter, then dip/roll generously in cinnamon sugar. Set them on a wire rack to cool.
Homemade Granola Bars
1 cup smooth peanut butter or cashew butter
2/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon sea salt
2½ cups rolled oats
⅓ cup mini chocolate chips
3 tablespoons crushed peanuts or cashews
1. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and salt, until smooth.
3. Add the oats, chocolate chips and the nuts. Stir to combine.
4. Press firmly into the pan. Use a second piece of parchment paper and the back of a measuring cup to help flatten the mixture.
5. Chill for at least 1 hour, then slice into bars. Store bars in the fridge.