Too Hot To Cook! Summer Cooking Tips

too hot to cookIt’s still early June here in Hotlanta, but it’s already getting too hot to cook. The last thing I want to do is heat up my kitchen these days. It sounds like a lot of other people are experiencing a heat wave too.

I was brainstorming the other day of some ways to cook without heating up the kitchen, and here are a couple of ideas that I came up with. Maybe these will help keep your kitchen cool this summer too.

Too Hot To Cook: Summer Cooking Tips

I’ll start with dinner. During the hottest part of the day, the last thing you want to do is heat up the kitchen to cook dinner. Here are some tips on feeding your family and keeping it cool.

Sandwich Night
Every mom should have a weekly sandwich night, just because it’s not fair to have to cook every night of the week! But another great reason to adopt sandwich night is to avoid heating up the kitchen.

Gather up your family’s favorite sandwich fixin’s and go to town. Get creative. If turkey and cheese is getting boring, how about a “salad” sandwich? This is one of my family’s favorites. We spread cream cheese on lightly toasted whole grain bread (the garden vegetable cream cheese is really nice for this), then add sliced tomato, cucumber, lettuce, avocado and a sprinkle of herbs and sea salt. Yum!

If sandwiches are getting boring, try wraps with tortillas instead of bread. Or large pieces of butter lettuce instead of bread. More healthy sandwich recipes can be found here.

Main Dish Salads
What’s nicer on a hot day than a cool, crisp, crunchy salad?

In the summertime your body needs the additional water so give it what it’s craving by making a main dish salad.

To make a meal out of a salad, add cooked and cooled chicken, shrimp, tuna, beans, cheese and hardboiled eggs for additional protein.

Experiment with pasta salads too. Try some of the whole grain and alternative grain (spelt, kamut, rice, quinoa) pastas for variety.

===> If you need some help coming up with more ideas for hearty salads, check out this salad cookbook.

Take It Outside
To the grill, that is. Cook your meat and veggies outside on the grill and keep the heat out of your kitchen. Then serve a nice cold fruit salad for dessert. Refreshing!

You could also plug in your slow cooker or toaster oven outside on a table on your porch and then when the food is cooked, bring it inside.

How about building a small solar oven? Or buy one, like this Solar Oven from Gaiam. At the very least, brew some sun tea to harness the free energy of the sun and avoid turning on your stove.

More Summer Dinner Ideas:

Sushi – you can cook the rice in a rice cooker (I love mine!) early in the day to avoid using your stove.

The rest of the ingredients are raw (or purchased precooked) so no cooking required. Here’s an easy recipe for Nori Rolls.

Sushi is actually quite easy to make. Several years ago I bought this Sushi Chef Sushi-Making Kit and it’s a lot of fun to use.

Gazpacho – serve your soup cold in the hot summer.

Chips with bean dip, homemade salsa and guacamole – who says dinner has to be formal? Chips and salsa are my favorite part of eating at the local Mexican restaurant. And no cooking required.

Hummus with Pita bread and veggies – the Middle Eastern version of chips and dip. :)

Antipasto: Mozzarella slices, still warm from the farmer’s market tomatoes with fresh basil, crusty bread (purchased from the bakery so you don’t heat up your kitchen baking!) with olive oil, artichoke hearts, a variety of olives – oh man I’m getting hungry just typing!

If you just have to have a hot supper, here are some tips:

Eat things that cook fast like Omelets, Quesadillas and Stir fries.
Use a smaller appliance to cook with, like your toaster oven and slow cooker, as these won’t heat up the kitchen like your stove or oven do.

Now some ideas for the other meals of the day.

Summertime Breakfast and Lunch Ideas

This one is actually pretty easy. Some of the foods we enjoy eating in the morning are typically served cool or raw. Such as:

Smoothies – These are so delicious and hydrating in the hot summer.

If you’re having one for lunch and want it to have more staying power, add protein and fat.

Ingredients like: full fat yogurt, peanut and other nut butters, crushed almonds, sunflower seeds or other nuts, coconut milk, coconut oil, etc will give your afternoon smoothie a bit more stick-to-the-ribsness.

Smoothies are wonderful for experimentation, but if you need some help, check out these smoothie recipes.

Fresh Fruit and Fruit Salads – Fresh fruit in season is nice for snacks, breakfast and dessert. I love this breakfast ambrosia any time. And what about this strawberry dessert soup? Can’t wait to try this one!

Yogurt – My new favorite breakfast is a dish of organic yogurt with chopped berries on top. It’s so light and refreshing in the heat.

A little granola with yogurt is a nice breakfast too.

Keep it simple

It’s ok to keep it simple, especially in the summertime. Sometimes me and the kids will eat a piece of fruit, some cheese and nuts for a meal.

Eat more raw food

Summertime is a nice time to investigate raw food recipes. While I’m not an advocate of a 100% raw food diet, our bodies do seem to gravitate towards raw foods during the heat, so we should listen to that. Search for raw food cookbooks here.

What are some of your favorite summer cooking tips?

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14 Responses to Too Hot To Cook! Summer Cooking Tips

  1. Treece says:

    Great ideas! This heat-wave sure took the thrill out of cooking dinner. I’m going to bookmark this one. Somehow calling our sandwiches “wraps” or “paninis” makes our family think it’s not just a run-of-the-mill sandwich night.

  2. Lisa says:

    This is great Carrie. When it is so hot out it is sometimes difficult to think about what to make for dinner. So, having this ideas at my fingertips is a big help.

    We had lots of salad this week from lettuce that I planted with the kids. They loved it! I can’t wait for out beans to start so that we can add those to our salads too.

  3. Cynthia Overfield says:

    I am all for the sandwich night! I think we may have more sandwiches this summer with some of the wonderful recipes from your 365 Salad Recipe Book. YUM

  4. LaTara says:

    These are great tips for easy lite summer cooking. My husband and I are focusing on more raw and fresh fruit and vegetable juices through the summer.

  5. Tiffany says:

    Ah yes…summer. Gives me an excuse to drink smoothies for two meals a day.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the great ideas, Carrie! Thanks for giving us all permission not to have to provide a fully-cooked meal every single night of the week! :)

    In our house we have “make-your-own-burrito” night, when I set out bowls of fixin’s and warmed tortillas and let the kids build their own. I use dried bean mixes from the bins in Whole Foods and only have to heat water in the kettle to rehydrate as much as I want.

  7. Diana Walker says:

    Fantastic post, Carrie!
    Love all your ideas

    The photos look deliciously enticing!!

    This is the perfect time to eat more raw foods and smoothies.
    I’m with you, that’s for sure!

  8. Jenn says:

    YUMMY!! Excellent ideas. I especially love the smoothies for the kids. They are a healthy treat!

  9. Wendy says:

    Great ideas Carrie. I tend to grill the majority of the time when the heat rises but I want to “spice” things up this summer with more variety and your ideas for salads is just the thing I’m thinking of doing more of. :)

  10. Robin says:

    Of course I can count on you to give me some ideas. I am to the point where I can’t think of anything for summer meals and I dread grocery shopping! Thank you again Carrie.

  11. Aurelia says:

    My Grandmother used to institute a Sandwich night and It was so much fun. I think I will add that to my meal plan a few times this summer for sure!

    Isaac took 1 look at the Smoothies and swears that HAVE to make them for him and Isreal :)

  12. Lindsey says:

    My family loves to make their own sandwiches (from fixings I’ve provided) and then “panini” them. It’s cheap and cool! Clean up is a breeze as well….which is better than anything.

    I also use the crockpot a LOT during the summer. It’s so much better than heating up the kitchen (and easier on the pocketbook when the electric bill comes due).

    Thanks for the great tips and recipes!

  13. geekbearinggifts says:

    Thanks for all the ideas!

    I’ve been eating something similar to your Salad Sandwich since my college days (a local hang-out served them.) I don’t toast the bread, though it sounds good, too, and I add shredded carrot. Sometimes I use sprouts instead of lettuce. Yummy! I do the same thing with hummus, just substituting it for the cream cheese.

    Gazpacho is one of our go-to meals in the summer, too. Turn it into Mexican Shrimp Cocktail by adding a good amount of chopped cilantro and your favorite hot sauce before chilling, then ladle into bowls each containing 1/2 cup of chilled cooked shrimp and 1/4 of a small avocado. Squeeze lime or lemon juice over to taste.

  14. Mel T says:

    Great ideas, thanks!

    I’m living in Australia at present, so it’s nearly summer here – these tips will come in really handy.

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