Simple Healthy Summer Meals

Photo Credit: Kirti Poddar

Note from Lindsay: My heart is full this week as I process all the intense images and knowledge I gained this past week in the Philippines. My body is also taking its precious time to adapt to the time change. Sleep has been avoiding me. I’m just trying to take it easy and pray for the Lord’s grace to just focus on my priorities this week. Going to launch right into our June theme where we will be sharing about cultivating simplicity and intentionality in the kitchen. Join us!

Post by Contributing Writer, Michele

Summer is usually a time of impromptu gatherings with friends, overnight visitors, and busy children’s activities in our family. On those hot summer days, standing in front of the oven is the last place I want to be, but everyone still needs to be fed.

To keep from resorting to ice cream for dinner (most of the time), I love having some frugal, simple-prep meals/ingredients on hand, using a combination of “once-a-month” meal preparations, a slow-cooker, and fresh produce.

Beans & Grains

Cook up a big batch of beans. You can put them in the slow cooker, if you just can’t bear to turn on the stove, and put it in your garage or shady porch to cook during the day.

I usually find black beans or chickpeas/garbanzo beans pretty versatile for summer meals. Store extras in freezer containers or baggies (stack bags flat in the freezer) for future meals. You can do the same with grains, such as millet or brown rice. (Cooked rice is perfect for making a fried rice to go along with a stir-fry!)

Some fun summer bean meals:

Photo Credit: roland

Blender Meals

On a hot day, a nutrient-rich smoothie can be a welcome side to a meal. You can make a Green Smoothie or a Fruit Smoothie, adding in plenty of whole milk yogurt or kefir. A chilled, blended soup can be refreshing on a hot evening, such as:

Eggs

When talking with fellow “real food” blogger friends last fall, most of us mentioned the favorite “busy day meal” trio of Popcorn, Smoothies, and Omelets (toss in some garden veggies!). Stuffed Deviled Eggs, Omelets, or even a “breakfast for dinner” of scrambled eggs & soaked waffles are simple, nourishing meals that won’t heat up the kitchen.

Photo Credit: sporkist

Batch Grilling

Not just for burgers; use the barbecue grill, and cook up a whole chicken, big batch of meats, or veggies while the coals are still hot! Leftover cold grilled chicken or beef is perfect for summer salads (such as Southwest Chicken Salad) or sandwiches. Grilled veggies or sausages are delicious in an omelet or soups, as well as Grilled Veggie Sandwiches.

Photo Credit: coanri

Fresh Produce

You may be gleaning produce items from your garden on an as-needed basis (such as lettuce, tomatoes, or carrots). But if you have a veggie drawer or fruit basket full, prep them into salads or veggie trays for quick snacks or appetizers (perfect for those drop-in guests!).

Use a melon baller to make quick work of a large melon, and toss together a fruit salad. A bowl of a nourishing homemade creamy dip is a great option to have on hand, too, with your veggie trays.

Cold salads can be made into meals, too! Stir in some shrimp or canned salmon, and serve in a wrap or stuffed into a bell pepper for a fun picnic meal.

You don’t have to do all your prep-cooking on one day.

Just make extra when you do cook a meal, and put it in the freezer- alongside the Strawberry Ice Cream! What are your favorite summer meals?

About Michele

Michele and her husband Calvin live a simple & sustainable life in rural Washington with their two- going on three- (busy!) little ones at Hampton Creek Inn. She takes joy in the daily ministry of delving into creativity, traditional homemaking & hospitality, homeschooling in everyday moments, and smooching her husband in the woods. Michele loves encouraging women and equipping them for frugal, natural living through her blog, Frugal Granola.

14 Responses to Simple Healthy Summer Meals

  1. Kelly June 29, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    We decided to simplify meals for a while to free up some time. I asked for ideas in another forum, then came across this and shared the link. Thanks!

  2. c June 11, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    Love the great ideas! I like frittata (have a post on that coming up) and making pizza on the grill. You heat a pizza stone on the hottest your grill will go while you stretch out the dough and put on toppings, and then slide the pizza from a cookie sheet or pizza peel with corn meal under it. It’s usually done in about 10 to 15 minutes, but may need to be turned half way through if there is a hot spot on the grill. Try not to open the grill too much and check it. I’m also going to be experimenting with “baking” granola and crackers in a closed up car on a hot day. I’ve been making sun preserves in the car and I made dried fruit too. Fruit leather would be very easy to make this way. I plan on doing some posts after I got it all figured out. Yogurt fruit popsicles are a big hit around here too. Thanks for the good ideas!

  3. Tammy June 9, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    Today we made an amazing smoothie. We opened a watermelon that was a little too ripe. Not wanting to waste, we scooped about a third of the melon into the blender, added one frozen banana and one can of whole coconut milk. It was very delicious and didn’t last long.

  4. Oh I’m going to enjoy this months theme! I especially love today’s title! I’m all about Simple and Healthy!! ;) Great ideas thanks for sharing!!! I have been thinking about putting my dehydrator in the garage so I wouldn’t heat up my kitchen… I hadn’t thought about the crock pot. I also like to use my rice cooker for cooking grains, it cooks them better and puts off less heat then the stove.

  5. Beth @ Turn 2 the Simple June 8, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    We love the “breakfast for supper” (AKA eggs) for a quick and easy meal!
    Also love fresh fruit and yogurt smoothies when we need a quick and cool side dish.

  6. Linda June 8, 2011 at 5:43 am #

    I get in a rut with shopping for the same groceries and making the same meals. Thanks for the fresh ideas. :)
    http://mamamiamcmasters.blogspot.com/2011/06/then-stuffed-chicken-whacked-me-in-face.html

  7. Linda June 8, 2011 at 5:42 am #

    I need all the meal time inspiration I can get. I get stuck in a rut with buying the same groceries and making the same meals… Thanks for some fresh ideas.
    http://mamamiamcmasters.blogspot.com/2011/06/then-stuffed-chicken-whacked-me-in-face.html

  8. Tawnya June 8, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    This is EXACTLY what I needed today! Thank you- you answered about 3 of my current ‘must figure out’ questions before my next shopping trip.
    Looking forward to some good eating!

  9. Amanda June 8, 2011 at 5:12 am #

    Thanks for the great ideas! I’ll definitely be coming back to these over and over. Yesterday was the first 100+ degree day in MN in 5 years, and I definitely didn’t feel much like cooking! I ended up defrosting some spaghetti sauce.

  10. Krista June 8, 2011 at 3:16 am #

    Wonderful post! I was dealing with the “I don’t want to cook” thoughts last night because my son and I were having so much fun playing outside : ) This will be a great “go-to” post in my bookmarks– thanks so much!

  11. Mary Ann June 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    These are great ideas! It’s already very hot here in the South and I’m determining to not use the oven unless absolutely necessary . I’ve been using the crockpot a lot. Also the grill. We’re on a very low-grain diet and some warm weather lunches we’ve been enjoying are lettuce wraps(any sandwich filling in lettuce leaves- egg salad is a favorite!), hard-boiled eggs, fresh veggies, cucumber slices or celery sticks with cream cheese, pre-cooked and sliced meat, hard-boiled eggs, cheese slices and fresh veggies as a cold plate, rice salads using whatever leftover meat and veggies I have on hand mixed with homemade vinaigrette dressing. Fresh fruit and smoothies make wonderful snacks/desserts!

    • Michele @ Frugal Granola June 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

      Everything sounds yummy! I love lettuce wraps. A favorite version in our family is “Asian”-spiced ground beef rolled up in the lettuce, with homemade (no-cook) peanut sauce for dipping. :)

      Blessings,
      Michele