Even in the middle of this crazy pandemic time, I feel like summer is still fairly busy at our house. Even if we aren’t going as many places, we keep busy cleaning, reading, playing in the yard, riding bikes, etc. That means by dinner time, none of us are in the mood for a big complicated dinner that will take hours to cook. Also, I don’t mind eating hot food even when it is hot outside, but I don’t want my oven on forever heating up the house.
Today, I’m sharing some tips for simplifying summer meals.
1) Make it a family affair. Rotate who has the job for meals each night. If your kids aren’t old enough to cook, you can have them at least help you pick out one night’s meal. If possible, rotate between you and your spouse. It feels less overwhelming when more people take turns.
2) Go fresh. Now is the time for fresh fruits and vegetables. Let the freshness shine! We have been eating our version of a veggie tray as our side dish for a lot of dinners. I buy the fresh veggies we like, cut them up, and have them waiting in the fridge ready to go. Homemade ranch has also been a huge hit this summer. Watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, pineapple, cherries. All of these are beautiful as is. Just slice, chill and serve!
3) Grill. Grill. Grill. Grilled food just tastes like summer. It also cooks quickly, is generally healthy, and doesn’t heat up your house. Kebabs, chicken breast, fish, and vegetables are great items to grill. Even the traditional hamburgers and hot dogs can fit in a healthy diet. Just pair them with the simple fruits and veggies from above.
4) Prep ahead when possible. By the end of a long, hot day, everyone is tired. So prep as much as you can in the morning or at lunch time. Slow cookers are great for this. But you can slice veggies or fruit, make kebabs, marinate meat, etc. By moving the grunt work to when you have energy and enthusiasm, you are more likely to eat better later.
5) Store standbys. When possible, I like to keep ingredients for quick meals I know my family likes on hand. The pressure cooker chicken tacos I shared recently are a great example. Everything is freezer or shelf safe. Spaghetti, homemade macaroni and cheese, black bean nachos, and potato soup are just a few examples. Then, even when I’m tired and what I originally planned sounds like too much work or I don’t have enough time, I know I have a back up that can be ready in a flash.
Hope these tips help you have a healthy and fun summer!