Easy Summer Dinners

Every year I have the same problem – summer cooking.  Minnesota summers can get really hot and humid and I am not interested in using the stove or oven!  Add in a kids’ activities and busy days running around having fun, and boom, look who never cooks!  We end up eating out or getting takeout way too much and I really want to put a stop to it.  So this year, I am making a list of ideas that are easy for me to make and won’t heat up in the house in the process.  Some of them I can throw together in the morning and then run around all day, and others are quick to put together and cook up easy.  This isn’t a list of recipes, just an idea generator to help you out.  You can always check out our pinterest page for more ideas and recipes!


Here are some general ideas that you might not have heard of/occurred to you before:

  • Breakfast for dinner, always a great idea.
  • Cook Once, eat Twice – works especially well for things that don’t require reheating with an oven.  One of my favorites is to grill extra chicken breasts, then a few days later have that chicken and on top of a salad, or with a strawberry salsa, or even make it into a chicken salad for sandwiches or a cold pasta dish.
  • Pasta Salads – as long as they have a protein source in them, they work great as a dinner supplement (I would still recommend some sort of veggie side even if there is veggies in your salad. ) It is easy enough to make a big batch and eat it for a few days (depending on how many people you have in your house.  These items tend to move fast in my fridge).  Sure, you might have to heat up the stove to boil water for the pasta, but it can save you for the hectic nights ahead.  A good pasta salad is especially great when it is hot and humid out and you aren’t really hungry but need to eat something.


No Cook Ideas:

  • Charcuterie board – make it as fancy or as simple as you want.  Slice up cheese and line up some crackers.  Add some grapes.  Or go wild with fun items like cheese spreads, fancy olives, specialty cheeses.
  • Sandwiches with chips, fruit, cut veggies and dip.  Basically lunch for dinner.  Buy fancy buns, or special condiments and toppings if you feel the need to up your game a bit.

Appliance based Meals:

  • Instant Pot (this is great when we have been running around all day and need dinner fast.  You can put frozen meat in and it cooks in [generally] under an hour!)
  • Crockpot (this is great when I am on the ball and we are gonna be gone all day)
  • Grill (always a great, if not a bit obvious, summer option)
  • Random appliances
    • Waffle maker – obviously for waffles, but also works great as a panini press!
      • We use Kodiak mix (I buy mine at Costco) and the kids use it all of the time.  I love how versatile it is; use with water, or mik, add an egg!  My kids like to try different syrups, too, and sometimes I make my own!
    • Electric skillet – Instead of using the stovetop (mine is gas and lets off a ton of heat, plus our A/C is on the fritz so whatever I can use helps), we will use this for grilled cheese, eggs, pancakes…you get the gist
    • George Foreman Grill – we use our almost mainly for paninis, but anything you can grill outside you can grill on the GF!
    • Vitamix/Blendtec/blender – the reason I was specific about these if because I know my Vitamix can make HOT soup, so that is an additional plus (though if it is hot out do we want hot soup?  Prolly not).  One of my favorite things to do, especially when the greens in the garden are going crazy, is to make smoothies for dinner and supplement with something crazy easy.  We are talking peanut butter toast or steak or a one item sort of main dish.  It started when I didn’t really have a great item to serve with hamburgers one night (besides fries) but I did have greens and frozen berries.  Heck, you could have chips and salsa or nachos or maybe you have a ton of leftover dip from your 4th of July party….eat it for dinner, but whip up a nutritiously yummy smoothie and suddenly it is a meal.  You’re welcome.
    • Air Fryer – ever since I made wings in this bad boy I have loved it!  I hate using all of that oil with a deep fryer so I especially love this appliance.  I haven’t yet perfected a french fry that rivals the traditional deep fried version, but everything else we have made has been good enough for the 5 of us to ditch the deep fryer for forever.  Check out our pinterest board on air fryer recipes!

One last note – meal planning always helps me SO MUCH in the summer!!  Partly because I know to get that crockpot recipe in by noon, or even just so that I can prep things as I go about my day.

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