Summer can mean different things to different people – summer travel, kids out of school, summer camp, etc. But one thing we can all agree on is sunshine and warmer weather. With that upcoming heat, it may make you cringe just thinking about cooking in it. But don’t worry, we’ve outlined 10 tips to keep it cool so you don’t miss a beat this summer:
- Cook Light – summer is a great time to take advantage of and cook with the many fruits and vegetables that are in season right now. In season vegetables include: cucumbers, arugula, beets, bell peppers, carrots, garlic, corn, zucchini and rhubarb. Fruits include: cherries, blackberries, nectarines, strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, melon, lemons and limes. In addition to the many nutritious benefits each of these foods have, they are also wonderful in the summer to avoid feeling too heavy or full after a meal. With the summer heat in full swing, these lighter foods can help you feel energized and keep on going. From salads to side dishes, there are many ways to add these foods to your meals this summer.
Tip: For a healthy Cucumber Tomato Salad with Zucchini and Black Olives in a Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette, try this recipe. Nutritious and delicious!
- Meal Prep – even if you aren’t the “meal prep” type, consider setting aside some time right when you get home from the store to tackle all of your washing, peeling, slicing and dicing right away. By having your food washed and ready to eat, it often will go to waste less and you’ll be able to quickly set it out to enjoy or get your cooking done faster with it.
Tip: reference this article on How to Store Fruits and Vegetables. It’s important to keep an eye on how long each is good for so you don’t eat rotten food or prematurely throw it away.
- Make it a Double – no, we’re not talking about drinks in this article. Rather, it is recommended doubling up your recipes! If you go through the hard work to make dinner, consider making extra so you and your family can enjoy the meal for the next day or two. Leftovers do wonders when you’re not in the mood to cook or just aren’t feeling it the next day. Plus it can help save money on take-out since you’re already buying those ingredients.
Tip: get creative, perhaps try a pasta recipe that will keep for days--you may even triple up (or more) the recipe. Doublemyrecipe.com helps convert the recipe so no math required!
- Be Resourceful – although you may only associate your slow cooker with soups in the fall and winter seasons, it can also be your friend in the summer. There’s nothing like dropping all the ingredients in and having a delicious meal ready for you when you get home. Don’t forget the blender for smoothies or even your food processor for fresh salsa. Lots of resources are at your fingertips to get creative this summer.
Tip: click here for a fresh salsa recipe you can simply drop in your food processor and enjoy!
- Go the No-Bake Route: there are lots of delicious options that don’t require the oven, which can add more heat to your home (and especially in the kitchen where you may be working!). If possible, find recipes that don’t require heat, and give your stove or oven a rest.
Tip: for a sweet treat that can also cool you down, try at-home popsicles. There are a ton of different options using fruit, yogurt, chocolate, etc. The fun is you can experiment with all your favorite ingredients. To get you started, try this simple and easy Strawberry Lemonade Ice Pop recipe.
- Take it Outside – it’s no surprise that summer means grill season. This can cut down on dishes and allows you to enjoy being outside, while making dinner! Be adventurous with what you throw on the grill – meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, you name it!
Tip: Reference this roundup of different summer grilling recipes. What better time to find a new meal to add to your grilling rotation.
- Start a Garden – you don’t need to be an avid gardener to try growing your own herbs, fruits or vegetables. After all, you have to start somewhere and you may just find you enjoy the activity of gardening.
Tip: did you know you can grow your own food even in an apartment or if you have a smaller space? Check out this article for beginner, easy starter vegetable gardening ideas.
- Include the Whole Family – summer is a great time to include the whole family in making your meals. You may find kids with no homework or the longer days as a great opportunity to make it a family event.
Tip: choose 1 night a week for family cook night! Depending on ages, you can even assign each family member in charge of making a part of the meal. Or, to focus more on kids learning to cook, consider cooking clubs for kids – such as Raddish Kids. Summer is the perfect time to dedicate to cooking together and making memories in the kitchen.
- Throw a Party – and by party, we also mean potluck! Who doesn’t love a good potluck? A potluck is an easy was to get friends together, enjoy the summer season and especially some good food – thanks to a team effort of everyone bringing a dish. All you need to do is get the house cleaned and set up for some fun.
Tip: leverage a Google Doc to have your guests sign up for the food items they wish to bring. This will limit your need to coordinate and provides everyone with insight into who’s bringing what and what’s left to sign up for (plus encourages friends to sign up earlier than later to get what they want to bring). There are even free templates online if you want to make it a snazzy sign-up sheet!
- Enjoy the Summer – it should go without saying, enjoy the summer season and all it has to offer! Make new memories with family and friends and don’t let the burden of cooking get to you. Instead, use it to add new and fresh foods to your meals, try new recipes and include your whole crew in the fun!
Cheers to a healthy, happy and enjoyable summer!