WHAT’S FOR DINNER? Solved for the Whole Summer!!

SUMMER WEEKNIGHT MEAL PLANNING IS DONE. MAKE THESE 20 FUN RECIPES 3X EACH. Print them, along with a shopping list, place in a 3-ring binder or save them to a word file so you know just where they are for the next couple of months. Then make them again…and again!

Tired of trying to figure out what’s for dinner on any given night in June, July, or August? The summer struggle is real even if you sometimes take the time to write down the week’s menu and make a grocery list. Cooking at home for yourself, friends, or a family is a big commitment, but it’s also a wonderful thing to do to focus on health and togetherness; improve the use of your time; and rein in that food budget. Here’s a post highlighting 20 fun, MORE TIME AT THE TABLE lighter/easier recipes you can make over and over again — or with variations. I had an awful time choosing between so many yummy dinners and had to leave out things like Shrimp Ratatouille and BBQ Chicken Grilled Veggie Stack — next time, right? You can be sure your planning, shopping, prep, and cooking will become simpler/faster as you become better acquainted with each meal. Just click on RECIPE HERE to take you to the post, then scroll down to the recipe (there is sometimes a “jump to recipe” button) and print. Do throw in a COOK’S OFF! night every now and then so you can order pizza, go out, or let someone else make eggs and toast when you’re tired. If you like, make a big batch soup or extra chicken breasts once a week you can then also use for lunch. After the recipes, I’ve included some seasonal desserts, meal-planning basic information, cooking with kids ideas, and a few great links to get you going. So choose your favorites, make that grocery list (keep it on your phone from month to month?), and then it’s time to get busy with happy summer cooking!

1/20

Spend the day hiking or swimming while dinner simmers at home.

RECIPE HERE

2/20

Add salmon to boiling seasoned water, cover, and turn off heat. Let rest a few minutes, plate, and spoon on sauce. So easy!

RECIPE HERE

3/20

Friday night steak dinner? Make an extra for Saturday’s fun tacos.

RECIPE HERE

4/20

Broccoli with cheese sauce in a bowl. No one turns this down.

RECIPE HERE

5/20

Who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner? Includes my Cheep A$$ Bloody Mary

RECIPE HERE

6/20

Change up your salsa game.

RECIPE HERE.

7/20

Get your burger fix with healthy salmon.

RECIPE HERE.

8/20

My Israeli Couscous Salad is one you’ll make over and over. Cool, refreshing, filling, fast.

RECIPE HERE.

9/20

Only a piece or two of rotisserie chicken left? Here’s dinner for 4 the next day.

RECIPE HERE.

10/20

When it’s too hot for anything but grilling and you want a special dinner. Includes my grilled peaches with goat cheese dessert recipe.

RECIPE HERE

11/20

Light meal just when you need it.

RECIPE HERE.

12/20

Instant Pot rainy day special.

RECIPE HERE

13/20

Keep shrimp in your freezer ready to make this big splash salad.

RECIPE HERE

14/20

Got zucchini? Here’s a slew of my fave ideas, including the recipe for this frittata.

RECIPES HERE.

15/20

Light and bright. Use cod, haddock, tilapia, pollack, etc., in place of halibut.

RECIPE HERE

16/20

Grilled individual turkey meatloaves stuffed with pepper jack and topped with salsa. All your favorite flavors in one spot. Plus beans + coleslaw, of course.

RECIPE HERE.

17/20

Some nights, only pancakes will do.

RECIPE HERE.

18/20

Good Friends for dinner. They deserve the best! Hello, California cab.

RECIPE HERE

19/20

When the corn is “as high as an elephants eye” … it’s time for corn chowder.

RECIPE HERE.

20/20

Hot Tuna Stuffed Peppers

— Good cold, too.

RECIPE HERE.


BONUS RECIPE: Side? Main? Breakfast? You choose when you make Mango-Avocado Salad


HOW ABOUT A COOL PITCHER OF MARGARITA SANGRIA TO KEEP YOU COOL WHILE YOU COOK?

25 BEST SUMMER WINES/FOOD&WINE



SUMMER DESSERTS:

POST/RECIPE for Blueberry Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches…

She’s a Peach! Brown Sugar and Spice Peach Pie

Blueberry-Rhubarb Cinnamon Crisp

Peach Dream Ice Cream

Frozen Vanilla Yogurt with Strawberries and Blueberries for the 4th of July

Whipped Cream Filled Brownie Cupcakes

Mesa Apple Tart

Cherry-Berry Pie

This is one of my KIDS COOKING recipes. Try it out!

MEAL PLANNING HELPS:

EASIEST PLAN: While you can reinvent the wheel with brand new menus every week all year long, you could also create just 4 monthly meal plans, one for each season, and repeat them three times or repeat them with variations. (If my summer meal planning post goes over well, I’ll think about writing one for the other three seasons.) You’ll have easier monthly and weekly shopping and you can really take advantage of sales and buy a few pork loin when it’s on sale since you’re making it every 3rd Thursday anyway for January, February, and March, for instance. Another plus is getting to know well a finite number of shopping lists, preps, and recipes so that you almost plan and cook without thinking after a while.

NEED A NIGHT OFF FROM COOKING? Leave one day blank each week (COOK’S OFF!) to use up leftovers, order pizza or other take-out, go rogue, have someone else fix eggs and toast, grilled cheese, etc.

CONSIDER ONE MEAL A WEEK THAT’LL ALSO BE GOOD FOR LUNCHES: It’s not hard to make a big batch soup or to grill extra chicken breasts that can also be used for lunches. Even a large bowl of fruit salad divvied into small containers helps; just grab one along with a yogurt and you’re good to go.

GOT KIDS? Make one day a week the day when they cook, even if they need a lot of help. Search out kids’ recipes together or buy a kids’ cookbook, checking off/editing recipes as you try them. If you’re doing weekly or monthly planning, let them sit in/chime in or choose a certain number of meals. Kids who get to choose dinner are often happier cooks and eaters. Reading recipes and cooking teach and reinforce all sorts of skills. Think fractions! They’re also better prepared to leave home later on and bring tasty dishes to family or holiday dinners. Thinking ahead!!

10 Cooking Projects That Will Teach Your Kids Math, Science, and More/ALLRECIPES

DIY Kids’ Cooking Camp at Home/YUMMLY

Williams-Sonoma: Kids in the Kitchen

ORGANIZE THE RECIPES: Keep your printed recipes/grocery list(s) in a binder or in word documents –this can be exclusive if more than one of you cook — creating your own personal cookbook. Divide them into tabbed sections as you use them — by ingredient, by type of meal, or by cooking method (all slow cooker recipes together, for instance), and so on. If you have hard copies, you can tape them on the cabinet (see photo below) and cook from them, editing or making notes as needed. No worry about screens timing out, charging/plugging in, or spilling wine on your tablet. Also, others, including kids, can read or cook along with you or cook when you’re not home if you have a copy that’s communal –available and visible to all.

FOOD FREEZING GUIDE: Read up here/NDSU.EDU Cook once; eat twice. Invest in a good selection of freezer containers and a roll of blue paint tape and a Sharpie for labeling. Label ingredients and date every time, no exceptions. I keep quart, pint, and half-pint deli containers I buy in bulk online. Mine are dishwasher safe and reusable.

HOW DO I KNOW IF FOOD IS STILL SAFE TO EAT: Look it up here– stilltasty.com

SUBSCRIPTIONS: Add a delivery subscription to amazon or chewy, et al, for items used monthly such as paper towels, peanut butter, vitamins, dog food, brown rice, etc. or buy several at once, store and reorder when you’re down to the last couple. Can you afford milk delivery? What a great service if you can. I even order my favorite Dijon mustard six jars at time.

ORDER ONLINE AND PICK UP: Work on your grocery list all week, adding to it as you think of things and check sale fliers, then pay ahead and pick up your groceries after work on say Thursday evening. Many stores have free pickup over a certain $$ amount; ours is $35.00. In over a year of picking up groceries, we’ve had very few complaints and those were addressed quickly and completely. Less spontaneous shopping, too! You might save a few bucks.

PRINTED RECIPES TAPED ON THE CABINETSEASY FOR ALL TO SEE, READ, + MAKE NOTES

MORE INFO THAN YOU WANTED:

Healthy Eating: A Detailed Guide for Beginners/HEALTHLINE.COM

Dietary Guidelines for Americans/DIETARYGUIDELINES.GOV

Nutrition for Kids: Guidelines…/MAYOCLINIC

The Beginner’s Guide to Meal Planning: What to Know, How to Succeed, What to Skip/KITCHN.COM

The Best Meal Planning Apps/TASTEOFHOME

Want a meal plan for a month? Try this REAL SIMPLE version that includes a monthly shopping list at the start/REALSIMPLE.COM

Printable, Fill-in-the-Blank Weekly Meal Planning and Grocery List Form/REALSIMPLE.COM

Printable Monthly Calendars/TIMEANDDATE

You can also check amazon for a variety of calendars available for meal planning — hard copy, white board, etc.

Pantry, Refrigerator and Freezer Essentials Checklist; Cooking from the Pantry/FOODNETWORK



Enjoy your summer; cook lots of good things together and stay cool,

Alyce

DESPERATION HOT WEATHER DINNER: Hummus and Vegetables Platter. Just add pita bread. Or not.

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