We’re all just trying to keep our cool during these hot summer months, right? I for one, don’t prefer working up a sweat just to get dinner on the table. And I don’t know about you, but where I live, this weather has been sizzling!
This post will give you a few tips on how to keep cool while cooking delicious and healthy meals all summer long!
Keeping it Cool
I usually try to keep oven use down in the summer, to save on energy costs.
But our AC has been slowly dying, which has made it all the more helpful to NOT have a huge oven heating up everything in sight. That’s getting fixed, thankfully. 🙂
During this hot weather, I’ve been challenging myself to see just how far I can go without using my oven for cooking.
It’s been a fun challenge, and I’ve enjoyed trying out a ton of crockpot recipes!
In the last couple of weeks, I only remember using the oven like, TWICE.
That’s a win, in my book.
So, here’s how I’ve kept my kitchen cool, and how you can too!
1. Use the crockpot!
Okay, let me just say that right now, my crockpot is one of my favorite things.
Not only does the crockpot keep the heat in the kitchen down, it doesn’t require much babysitting either!
I continue to be amazed at how many things you can cook in the crockpot, and how well they turn out!
Crockpot Cooking Ideas
Breakfast quiche– this always turns out great. So fluffy!
Granola– I know, who would have thought!?
Breads– I’ve made gluten-free cornbread, but what I really want to try, is my favorite banana bread recipe!
Desserts– There are a ton of recipes for berry or peach crisp, made in the crockpot.
And thanks to the turn-it-on-and-leave-it feature, I can stick dinner in there, and go hang in one of my favorite places….the patio.
See, in my opinion, right as the sun is setting and things are cooling off, is one of the best times right now to soak up some sunshine and fresh air.
So I’ll take my time on the patio as the crockpot does all the work, rather than hanging around a stove INSIDE.
2. Make one-pan meals on the stovetop
Sheet-pan dinners are really popular, and they’re amazing. But one-pan STOVETOP meals are even better for summer weather.
And they don’t HAVE to be ONE pan. But it certainly cuts down on heat (especially if you have a gas stove like I do) to have only one burner going at a time.
Its simple food with less dishes. What’s not to like?
Some of my favorite one pan meals are:
- One-pan Chicken Eggplant Dinner from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
- Paleo Taco Salad by Stupid Easy Paleo
- Sloppy-Joe Inspired Lentil Chili by Me 🙂
- And this Sweet Potato Cheeseburger Casserole -this has been on my list for months because it looks so good, but for some reason I have yet to try it.
3. Use a dehydrator to make crispy snacks and treats, rather than a 400 degree oven
A dehydrator can be pretty handy.
I mainly use mine to crisp up nuts that have been soaked, and to dry apples and bananas. There are so many other possibilities, though!
My latest epiphany, is that its SOOO much easier to make delicious kale chips in the dehydrator, than it is the oven. More kale chips are in my future!
So if you own a dehydrator, try making vegetable chips or dried fruit for a fun treat!
4. Eat lots of cold salads, fresh vegetables, and fruits
Obviously, a lot of raw foods may not be for everyone. If you can’t tolerate a lot of raw vegetables, try steaming them.
Better yet, sauté them! It can give a nice browned flavor with a little crunch left, yet uses way less heat than roasting in the oven.
You can also cook vegetables, then use them cold in salads (roasted broccoli is my favorite).
Just a few of the many options when it comes to salads:
- Tabouleh salad (you can sub riced cauliflower for the grains….delish!)
- Potato salad
- Egg salad
- Tuna salad
- Greek Chopped Salad (this is so easy and delicious. I like adding kale to mine, along with a little more olive oil.)
#5. (Bonus Tip)
Leave the refrigerator door open accidentally, as you prep dinner
Actually, lingering a little by the open freezer door is the best. 😉
So, to recap, the 4 ways you can keep cool in the kitchen are:
- use your crockpot
- make one-pan wonders on the stovetop
- use a dehydrator
- eat lots of fresh, raw, or simply cold foods
To finish it off, here’s a week’s worth of crockpot/stovetop lunches and dinners that won’t heat up your kitchen.
These are the meals we’ve been eating lately, and I can say that they’re ALL delicious!
Summer Meal Plan
L- Taco Salad from Stupid Easy Paleo, w/ extra veggies
D- Panfried burgers & Rainbow Salad from Predominantly Paleo
Double or triple the recipe for leftovers.
L- Leftovers of burgers and Rainbow Salad
D- Slow Cooker Honey Mustard Chicken w/ veggies & potatoes
Try adding the potatoes in with the chicken.
L- Leftovers of Taco Salad
D- Gluten-free Zuppa Toscana from Noshtastic
L- Ultimate Greek Chopped Salad from the Garden Grazer
D- Stuffed Zucchini Boats from Beautiful Foods
I did this in the crockpot, adding the zucchini later…in hindsight, it probably would have worked better if I’d just chopped the zucchini in large chunks, then added for the last hour or two of cooking.
L- Zucchini Leftovers
D- Paleo Crockpot Sweet Potato Meatloaf from the Yankee Homestead
L- Leftovers of Ultimate Greek Chopped Salad
L- Leftovers! Or something easy, like salad with canned salmon.
D- More leftovers! (that’s how we roll most weekends….leftovers are pretty much a favorite)
More Recipe Inspiration:
- Crockpot Granola
- Crockpot Omelet
- Slow Cooker Coconut Peach Crisp
- Here are 10 ways to have Banana Ice Cream
What are your favorite summer meals? Do you have any other tips for keeping the heat down in the kitchen?