20 Summer Meals for When It’s Too Hot to Cook

@HealthfulMama #Summer Meal Ideas

When it’s too hot to cook, it can be tempting to forgo homemade meals and resort to take-out or delivery instead. In our household, spending cash on food we could make ourselves is just impractical, and I’ll bet many of you feel the same. BUT IT’S HOT and no one wants to stand in a heated kitchen. Additionally, heating your oven or stove for a long period of time raises the temperature of the house, thus forcing you to turn on your air-conditioning, or fans, or both! Save yourself some time, energy, and money with this list of

20 Summer Meals That Won’t Heat Your Kitchen


The Basics:

These types of cold, no-cook meals are definite winners when it’s too hot to cook.
@HealthfulMama #Summer Meals That Won't Heat Your Kitchen

  • “The Big Salad.” Have you seen the Seinfeld episode when Elaine is obsessed with The Big Salad? Fixation with  a big salad is easy to envision because you can get a refreshing, filling meal with relative ease. Start with your favorite salad greens, add tons of garden veggies, and top with a protein like chicken, beans, or goat cheese. Add dressing. Done!
  • Picnic-style Dinners: cold pasta salad, sandwiches, cut-up veggies.
  • Crudité or Antipasto plates: serve nitrite/nitrate free deli meat, olives, sliced veggies, crackers/bread, and a dip like hummus or ricotta cheese. Try my Black Bean Hummus for a twist on an old fav.
  • Cold soups, like gazpacho, whip up in a flash in a blender (I like this affordable one). Serve with crusty bread from the grocery store.
  • Salads using chickpeas, bulgar wheat (as in tabouleh), or cous-cous are simple and quick to prepare with limited cooking.
  • How about this *VEGAN* Walnut Paté served in a tomato or pepper?
  • Salsa, chips, and avocado!
  • For something sweet, try Berries & Vanilla Cream–delish!

Make Ahead/Convenience:

@HealthfulMama #Summer Meals

  • Prepare a pot of grains (rice or quinoa, for example) and freeze them for a quick microwave re-heat. 
  • Purchase a rotisserie chicken and use for chicken sandwiches or on top of salad.
  • Bread, deli roast beef, and gravy make an easy french-dip sandwich meal. Heat the gravy in a small pot on the stove, assemble the sandwiches, done. Serve with sliced cold veggies.
  • Cook hard-boiled eggs at the beginning of the week for salads, sandwiches, or as a side.
  • Refrigerator oatmeal makes a great breakfast, lunch, or unconventional dinner!

Slow Cooker:

@HealthfulMama #Summer Meals
A slow cooker won’t produce much heat and you can easily serve up summertime favorites like BBQ pulled pork, shredded chicken, or shredded taco meat, for example.


@HealthfulMama Stovetop #Pizza #summer

  • If you don’t have an outdoor grill, don’t let that stop you from grilling! Stovetop grill pans are perfect for quick meals without a ton of time at the stove. Try my Stovetop BBQ Chicken with 3 Sides (sides that are easy and cold!)
  • Stir-fry takes literally minutes to make: throw some protein and veggies in a hot pan, toss them around with some kind of sauce, and serve over rice.
  • We’ve been enjoying stovetop pizza, which takes less than 10 minutes.
  • Make a pot of pasta and have a pasta bar!

Outdoor grill:

@HealthfulMama #Summer Meals
This one is obvious! Utilize your grill for a few minutes then go inside and enjoy the A/C! Some quick ideas are grilled veggie skewers, shrimp, fish, or even the old reliable hot dog.

Even More: My pal Emily at Random Recycling has 15 more Summer Meal Planning ideas for you.

So, what did I miss? What are your summer favorites?

Part of HealthfulMama_Summer Camp

photo credits: startcooking kathy & amandine via photopin cc,
gtrwndr87 via photopin cc, AamerJaved via photopin cc


8 Responses to 20 Summer Meals for When It’s Too Hot to Cook

  1. lori alper July 16, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

    Fantastic suggestions! Thanks for creating such a great resource Gretchen.

    • HealthfulMama July 16, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

      Thanks for dropping by, Lori, and I love the pasta bar idea :)

  2. Emily @RandomRecycling July 17, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    Great ideas here! Thanks for the shout out. ~Emily

  3. Stargazer July 18, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    Fresh, innovative ideas.

  4. Erin N @HealthyHomeMag July 19, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    Love it – I’m using some of these ideas next week! It’s finally hot in Seattle! :)

  5. Laurie July 20, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    I often use our slow cooker in the garage so that any heat it is producing isn’t fighting the air conditioner at all.
    We’re also huge fans of a wheat tortilla smeared with peanut butter and a banana rolled up in the middle. Fast easy and only makes a dirty knife if you use a paper plate or towel. (I know, not good for the environment, BUT when the temps are over 100 for weeks on end, you live with your choices.)

  6. Laurie July 20, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    One other mildly odd thing we do in the middle of a heat wave is do any cooking at night, late, like after 10 or 11 and then just reheat if needed the next day.

    • HealthfulMama July 20, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

      Great suggestions, thank you!

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