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!
Spend the day hiking or swimming while dinner simmers at home.
Add salmon to boiling seasoned water, cover, and turn off heat. Let rest a few minutes, plate, and spoon on sauce. So easy!
Friday night steak dinner? Make an extra for Saturday’s fun tacos.
Broccoli with cheese sauce in a bowl. No one turns this down.
Who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner? Includes my Cheep A$$ Bloody Mary
Change up your salsa game.
Get your burger fix with healthy salmon.
My Israeli Couscous Salad is one you’ll make over and over. Cool, refreshing, filling, fast.
Only a piece or two of rotisserie chicken left? Here’s dinner for 4 the next day.
When it’s too hot for anything but grilling and you want a special dinner. Includes my grilled peaches with goat cheese dessert recipe.
Light meal just when you need it.
Instant Pot rainy day special.
Keep shrimp in your freezer ready to make this big splash salad.
Got zucchini? Here’s a slew of my fave ideas, including the recipe for this frittata.
Light and bright. Use cod, haddock, tilapia, pollack, etc., in place of halibut.
Grilled individual turkey meatloaves stuffed with pepper jack and topped with salsa. All your favorite flavors in one spot. Plus beans + coleslaw, of course.
Some nights, only pancakes will do.
When the corn is “as high as an elephants eye” … it’s time for corn chowder.
Hot Tuna Stuffed Peppers
— Good cold, too.
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?
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!!
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.
MORE INFO THAN YOU WANTED:
You can also check amazon for a variety of calendars available for meal planning — hard copy, white board, etc.
Enjoy your summer; cook lots of good things together and stay cool,