Summer time in Texas is full of beauty, fun, and heat! When it’s sweltering outside, the last thing I want to do is swelter in the kitchen. But alas, the family still needs to eat healthy meals. With a few changes to our school-year cooking routine, I easily overcome the desire to stay out of the kitchen!
Find recipes that do not require cooking.
- Fruit – This is the season for fruit! Instead of allowing kids to snack on chips and junk food all day, keep plenty of fruit on hand. If your child isn’t a fruit eater, make smoothies or puree the fruit and freeze as popsicles. Frozen grapes are a favorite pool side snack! We love fresh watermelon, but one watermelon will get mushy before our family finishes it. Whatever we don’t eat after a day or two, I put in a blender then freeze as popsicles. Added coconut milk changes it into a creamy treat!
- Salads – I eat salads all year, but in the summer I make some changes. Adding specialty cheeses or fruit gives salads a new twist. This is also the perfect back-drop to eat leftovers. Grilled steak from the night before becomes a fancy salad with goat cheese and cold sliced steak.
- Smoothies – Adding peanut butter, chia seeds, or flax can up the protein and nutrients.
When you do cook, make extra for another day. I’m a huge fan of once a month cooking. This wasn’t always the case. After taking a course and learning a new approach, I’ve embraced it enthusiastically over the winter months. (Check out Meals Masters) Now that summer is quickly approaching, most of my recipes are winter fare. Before summer arrives, I will be revamping my once a month cooking recipes to make them summer friendly. So far, I’ve come up with a few twists on our family faves.
I roast at least two chickens a week. We eat the meat for our lunches (cheaper alternative to lunch meat) and I use the rest of the chicken for healthy chicken broth. For the summer, I will still roast chickens and make broth, however, instead of eating chicken hot out of the oven, I’ll use the chicken to make cold chicken salad. With a side of fruit, this will make a delish cold alternative for the hot summer days. Instead of using the broth for chicken chili, I have a new butternut squash soup recipe that can be eaten hot or cold.
Move the cooking outdoors and GRILL!!! As long as the weather is nice, we cook and eat outdoors. Some of our favorite meals that were cooked in the oven will be moved to the grill. However, this is Texas, so I know the day is quickly approaching that even grilling outside is just too hot!
Another tip: I’m moving the crock pot to the garage. I’m not sure if it really does keep the kitchen cooler, but it just feels like it will. And that’s half the battle of beating the heat in the kitchen.
Get your kids into the kitchen! With kids out of school for the summer, this is the perfect opportunity to teach them how to cook. Some of our favorite summer nights are the ones where the kids cook. Each child is assigned a night every week or so. I help the younger kids while the older ones are encouraged to learn a new technique. They pick the meal, make a shopping list, grocery shop with me, cook, and clean. It’s their special night! Some nights we’ve had sandwiches for dinner and ice cream sandwiches for dessert. We’ve also had dippers meals, where everything was finger food that had different dips: chicken nuggets with choice of sauces, fruit in peanut butter, carrots dipped in ranch, and an assortment of items dipped in chocolate.
My new favorite place to find recipes is Pinterest. Check out my board called Beat the Heat – Summer Recipes. Hopefully it will give you inspiration to beat the heat in the kitchen while still cooking healthy, family friendly meals.