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Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Chirping Mom Review: Outdoor Table & Bench Set

Where to Wednesday: Outdoor Dining For Kids

Now that the warm weather has finally arrived, we want to stay outside all day! 
In addition to playing outside all day, it's fun to eat dinner outside too. The kids love it and clean up is super easy. Then after dinner you can put the kids in the bath, put them to bed and come downstairs to a clean kitchen. 

The key with serving little kids dinner outside, is having some ideas on hand that don't require much cooking. If you're having a blast playing outside, it's a lot harder to make kids come indoors for an hour while you cook something, just to get shoes back on to go outside to eat. I like to switch it up between meals I can make them on the grill while they play and meals that I can prepare much earlier in the day and run in to grab when it's dinner time. 

10 Outdoor Meals Ideas for Kids

1. Cold Kabobs 
Put rolled turkey, american cheese, strawberries, tomatoes, etc on a skewer

2. Chicken Kabobs 
Make ahead: cubed chicken breast, pineapple, green pepper. Cook on the grill.  

3. Lunch for Dinner 
My kids always get a kick out of breakfast for dinner - now we've added lunch for dinner. I even pack it in a lunch box earlier in the day. This is a really easy way to eat dinner outside!

4. Cold Taco Bar 
Use a muffin tin to make a cold taco bar: shredded cheese, black beans, chopped tomato, avocado, etc. Put a taco shell in one of the muffin spots and serve! This is a meal that's super messy and great for outdoor fun.

5. Pizza Bagels On The Grill
Have the kids make a pizza on a sliced bagel: sauce, cheese, etc. Then while they play, cook the pizzas on the grill. It's way more fun to make pizzas outside, so the shredded cheese disaster stays outdoors!

6.  Dinner In A Muffin Tin
This is another great "make ahead" outdoor meal. Use a muffin tin to prepare dinner, fill with: cheese, carrots, cucumbers, edamame, cubed ham, mini peanut butter sandwiches, grapes, etc. This makes an easy meal to grab from the fridge and bring outside. 

7. Sliders on the Grill
For little kids eating outside -  grill little burgers!

8. Kids Pasta Salad
This recipe can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for a few days. It's easy and my kids love it!
Ingredients: Cooked pasta, cubed ham or pepperoni, cubed cheddar cheese, corn, cucumber, and green pepper. Mix everything together and toss with a little bit of Paul Newman Balsamic Vinaigrette. OR if you think your kids will run at the sight of the vinaigrette (Maggie used to), you can also just toss with  olive oil. 

9. Grilled Hot Dogs and Corn
This is a pretty traditional one: just grill some hotdogs and corn on the cob. 

10. Take Out 
Here's a real easy one: while the kids are having fun running around the yard, call the pizza guy! We do this all the time and even tell the delivery man to "deliver to the yard". 

A Place To Eat....
One thing I was on the hunt for this spring was a great outdoor table for the kids. We started eating outside a lot at the end of last summer, and while an occasional picnic is fun, it's not that easy for toddlers to eat dinner on a blanket. After much searching, I found an awesome outdoor table and bench set from KidKraft. I read great reviews online and thought it looked adorable. 
I was even more impressed when it arrived. It's very well made and the cushions are durable and easy to clean. I also love having an umbrella on the table. Sometimes when we are outside playing all day, we like to take snack breaks or coloring/craft breaks in the shade. This table is perfect for that. The benches are low to the ground and safe for someone small, like Alex, but big enough that I know even Maggie will fit at the table for the next few years. The girls love the new KidKraft table and benches, and now they really never want to eat indoors! 

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