Summer is my favorite time of year. But cooking during hot summer days can be a real nightmare. Especially considering the high humidity that we often experience here in Toronto. And cooking while running an AC is just a huge waste of energy.
This is why I totally change my approach to cooking during the hot summer month and follow a completely different routine which I am sharing with you in this post.
In short, I make sure that my fridge, freezer, and pantry are stocked up with foods I need to prepare meals with short cooking times or meals that don’t require any cooking at all.
Below you will find the outline of my meal-prep during a heatwave as well as the list of my favorite healthy no-cook recipes.
What Do You Eat When It’s Too Hot to Cook?
In summer, we mostly eat raw vegetable salads topped with flavor-boosting as well as with high protein toppings.
My favorite flavor-boosting toppings are olives, feta cheese, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, guacamole, and salsa. My favorite protein toppings are beans, cooked or canned salmon, and chicken.
I also love to make and eat cold soups. They take just a few minutes to prepare and are incredibly refreshing and filling.
For breakfast, I often make overnight oats, muesli or chia pudding.
Light Meal Ideas for Hot Weather
At the end of this post, you will find a list of healthy no-cook recipes you can make during hot weather. And here are a few general ideas on what to eat on a hot summer day:
- raw vegetable salad;
- bean and grain bowl;
- bean and legume salad;
- grain and bean salad;
- wrap or sandwich;
- lettuce wrap;
- cold soup;
- healthy yogurt parfait;
- no-cook steel-cut oats.
Meal-Prep Ideas for a Heatwave
Meal-prep is the most important step in putting healthy meals on the table every day. Here are a few meal-prep ideas that will help you avoid overheating your home in summer:
Foods to Buy For the Fridge:
Vegetables will make a base of your raw salads. If you have a good variety of fresh vegetables in your fridge you can make a filling salad in just a few minutes. You can also pre-chop them and store in glass containers to use later for lunch and dinner.
2. Fruits and berries
Fruits and berries are in season in summer so they are a must-have during a heatwave. You can eat them like a snack or dessert. Fresh fruits and berries also make great toppings for breakfast dishes such as muesli, yogurt parfait, or smoothies.
3. Rotisserie chicken
If your grocery store sells rotisserie chicken, buy one instead of heating up your home while preparing your own. Separate the meat from the bones and use the meat to add to salads and grain bowls. You can freeze the bones and use them later to make homemade chicken stock.
4. Flavor-boosting salad toppings
Many people don’t like eating raw vegetable salads because they can taste pretty boring. The secret to preparing delicious salads everyone will want to eat is to add flavor-boosting salad toppings such as olives, feta cheese, goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, fresh herbs, guacamole, salsa, etc.
Foods to Buy and Prep For the Freezer:
1. Blanch and freeze some leafy greens
Blanching leafy greens is just as easy as adding them to boiling water, letting them cook until tender and then transferring them to an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Freeze blanched greens in portions so that you can easily use them as needed. Blanched leafy greens can be added to veggie and grain bowls, salads and even sandwiches.
2. Cook and freeze some grains
Healthy low-glycemic grains make great side-dishes and can be added to salads and veggie and grain bowls. To avoid heating your home too much during a heatwave, choose grains with short cooking times such as quinoa, buckwheat, and bulgur. Freeze cooked grains in portions so that you can grab them out of the freezer as needed.
3. Make and freeze smoothie packs
Smoothies can be a great solution for summer days because they are light and refreshing. Frozen smoothie packs can be a real lifesaver, especially for busy mornings. When making smoothies, make sure that they don’t just consist of fruits and berries because this can make them high in sugar. Make smoothies more balanced by adding protein powder, yogurt and/or nut butter.
4. Buy a pack of shrimps
If you love seafood, having a bag of frozen shrimps in your freezer can be quite helpful when preparing meals during a heatwave. Shrimps cook very quickly and can be added to salads, grain bowls, wraps, and cold soups to make them more filling.
Foods to Buy For the Pantry:
1. Good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar will take your raw vegetable salad from good to great. So, buy the best oil and vinegar you can afford. Good quality balsamic vinegar is usually pretty concentrated so you will use less of it compared to a diluted cheaper option.
2. Canned Beans, Chickpeas, and Lentils
Most beans and legumes take a long time to cook. So cooking them from scratch is really not an option when you are trying to keep your home cool. Canned beans, chickpeas, and lentils make delicious protein-rich toppings for salads and can also be added to veggie and grain bowls.
3. Canned salmon and tuna
Canned salmon and tuna are handy to have in your pantry to use as a protein-boosting salad topping. They are very convenient, easy to store in a pantry and have a long shelf life.
4. Nuts and nut butter
Nuts and different types of nut butter are rich in healthy fats which makes them very filling. They are great for snacking and can be added to muesli or yogurt parfait. Nuts are convenient and easy to take with you on walks and road trips for a healthy snack on the road.
Things to Research:
1. Recipes with Short Cooking Times
It’s helpful to have a collection of recipes with short cooking times to quickly prepare weeknight dinners. Not only quick-cooking meals are time-saving, but they are also very helpful in summer because you don’t have to have your stove on for hours.
For example, you only need to have the burner on for 7 minutes to make these Easy Sauteed Zucchini or this PanFried Rainbow Trout. And if you have some frozen quinoa in the fridge, you can make this Green Quinoa Salad in just a few minutes without turning on the stove.
2. Healthy No-Cook Recipes
No-cook recipes are perfect for hot weather because you don’t even need to turn on the oven. Below you will find a few of my favorite recipes that I keep in rotation every summer.
Steel-cut oats take a long time to cook, so cooking them when it's hot is really not an option. But did you know that you can make no-cook steel cut oats? Overnight steel-cut oats are quite easy to prepare and make for a delicious, filling and convenient breakfast.
Everyone loves yogurt parfait. But store-bought yogurt parfait can be full of sugar and artificial fillers. Learn how you can easily build your own yogurt parfait to eat for breakfast or as a snack.
Muesli makes a perfect breakfast and you can also eat it as a snack. But store-bought muesli can be quite expensive and is often full of ingredients you don't really need in muesli. Making your own DIY muesli mix is much easier then you think. Find out how in this post.
Having friends over for a drink? Serve this colorful Caprese appetizer tray. All the favorite flavors of Caprese salad displayed on a platter.
This cucumber salad is super refreshing. You can make it as a side dish for a weeknight dinner or as a salad for a BBQ party. Two dressing options are provided so everyone can enjoy it.
This is a healthy alternative to a popular creamy coleslaw. This cabbage salad is perfect for a weeknight and for entertaining. It's very budget-friendly and tastes even better the next day.
This salad can be eaten as a meal. I know it's topped which chicken so it's not completely a no-cook salad. But if you buy a rotisserie chicken as suggested in my meal-prep outlined above, you can make this salad without having to cook.
This Mediterranean tomato salad is incredibly flavorful. You can enjoy it as is or add some rotisserie chicken to it if you want to make it more filling. Also great to make for a crowd.
This is my most favorite summer recipe because I need less than 5 minutes to make it! You can enjoy it as is or top it off with some chicken or shrimp to make it more filling.
Let's not forget about dessert! This blueberry frozen yogurt is very easy to make and you don't need an ice cream maker to whip up a batch. It's very easy to store in the freezer for a quick healthy dessert.
Chia pudding makes a perfect summer dessert! This chocolate and raspberry chia pudding can be served four different ways. Chocolate and raspberries are a divine combination and as a bonus, the desserts are very pretty too.
Let's not forget about drinks! This homemade strawberry soda is refreshing and makes a perfect summer drink. Pour it over ice and you will be glad you've made it.