This post could also be titled, “It’s Getting Hot in Here, So Stop Cooking With The Oven”. (I. am. getting so hot, I need to turn my oven off!!)
As we’re coming into July with all the festivities of the fourth looming in the very near future, I wanted to share some of my favorite summer meals. The decision was also inspired by a monthly meal plan I saw on Pinterest last night. I thought, oh goody!, some quick and easy meals for a busy summer. And then I realized almost every dinner required significant oven time: meatloaf, pot roast, baked chicken. Now don’t get me wrong, these are all great meals but clearly this woman lives in a house where you can run an oven for two hours and not totally offset the effects of the air conditioner. (Old homes FTW!) Plus, I don’t like to run the air conditioner unless absolutely necessary, and on warm days, as much as I love summer, I do not love smoldering in the kitchen for a heavy meal. Lastly, my family may work up at appetite in the pool or at the beach, but we rarely want to sit down to a meal of mashed potatoes, gravy, creamed vegetables and pot roast in July. January; yes please, but not this month.
I think the menu plan also showed how far our society has come from eating seasonally. Since we can eat the same food year round, in climate controlled homes, we do. While there’s nothing wrong with that, I think some families may miss out on some seasonal favorites because they’re locked into a regular meal plan.
This month, as you plan out your meals and write your grocery shopping list, consider preparing a few of these summer favorites to keep your house cooler.
1. Beer can chicken – My absolute favorite summer meal. I’ve made beer can chicken in our oven before, but I much prefer the grill version. Plus, the leftovers are great for chicken salad or just eating cold. Who says you need to reheat? Chicken tacos and quesadillas are also great summer meals with little heat output, unless you use the ultra hot and spicy salsa.
2. Cool pasta salad – My family likes one made with imitation crab. I cook the noodles and prepare the salad in the morning before things heat up. After sitting in the fridge all day, the flavors have melded beautifully and it’s the perfect meal to sit down to after a day of running around.
If I can’t even bring myself to cook noodles, I’ll sometimes make an Asian Slaw with some extra nuts or leftover chicken tossed in.
3. Slow cooker meals – My cooker can still put out a lot of heat, so in the summer I usually park it someone other than the kitchen, such as the basement. The trick is to not over fill it before carrying it to another room. Pulled pork is always a hit.
Same thing with your rice cooker; don’t hesitate to use it and move it to keep heat at a minimum in your living spaces. After a busy day, you can’t go wrong with stir fry and rice. Heck, have your kids make it for you.
4. Pizza, on the grill– I enjoy making pizza, but there is no way I’m jacking my oven up to 450 for an hour in July.
5. Hearty salads – Even if all the lettuce in your garden has bolted, salads can make a great summer dinner, with or without the green.
Bonus – We also sometimes splurge on sweets for dinner. Strawberry shortcake for dinner? It’s happened. In the winter on snow days, it’s not uncommon for me to bake apple pies for supper. Don’t be afraid to prepare something special featuring fresh, seasonal produce. Grilled peaches anyone??
Need more ideas?
Once you’re done writing up your meal plan, swing back to Mama’s for more of the Favorites.