{FF} Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot in the Kitchen

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.

summer cooking button

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.

Corn Salad

Broccoli Salad

Black Bean Salad

Cucumber Salad

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?

Follow Kelly’s board Summer Cooking on Pinterest.

Once you’re done writing up your meal plan, swing back to Mama’s for more of the Favorites.


  1. We used to live in an un-airconditioned house (and this is in Tennessee, with summer temps in the 90s many days). I could not stand to cook until maybe 9 p.m. if then. And I so agree with you about the seasonal eating thing. I love eating certain things at only certain times of year, like the tomato, cucumber, and onion salad I had yesterday.

  2. Ok, I laughed so hard at your first line because that is TOTALLY the song I sing in my kitchen when I am cooking dinner! (and always, ALWAYS, my husband will sing the falsetto part if he is home almost like it’s a trigger reaction) (I’m not sure he even knows he does it!) I live in Texas and my house is from the 1940s. If I wanted to die from sweating, I’d turn my oven on and make a pot roast. Seriously. So, oodles and oodles of thanks for more recipes that will feed my family and keep me from melting into a puddle!

  3. Great recipe ideas, thanks! I was just talking with my mother-in-law last night about cooking with the seasons, not in spite of them. We only have A/C in our upstairs bedrooms, so the idea of making an elaborate hot dinner in July is about as appealing as me crawling into the oven to keep the lasagna company.

  4. YES! The oven is my friend in the winter, but turning it on during the summer is not my fave.
    Thanks for such a good collection of recipes that prevent that added heat-wave!

  5. Yes to the problems of not eating seasonally! We have an old house and just have two floor units (one on each of the upper floors) so my kitchen is 85-87 degrees all summer long. I do not want to have the oven on (or even the stovetop) for that matter! I use the toaster oven, or the panini maker like a George Foreman grill, or if I have to, I’ll fire up the gas grill, but honestly, walking in and out of the kitchen in 100 degree heat to tend the grill is not my favorite thing. Thanks for the great meal ideas!

    I’ve also been making spinach and strawberry salad with a homemade poppyseed dressing and crispy gardein to top it off (I’m allergic to chicken, so real chicken would work just as well). So delicious.

    I also have a fake chicken and peach salsa with kale topping taco recipe that we eat when peaches come into season. A few more weeks, I think.

  6. My kitchen runs so hot in the summer that I have to turn off the lights as well as the stove! I’m with you on grilled peaches – one of my top favorite things for summer. Jamie Oliver has a great arugula salad with grilled peaches, yum!

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