I am not talking about Pinterest’s fancy, expensive meal plans here. This article comes at you from the heart of one hot, exhausted mother to another. I’m not a fan of blowing the budget at the grocery store week after week, and yet, somehow it happens. Having kids decide that they are starving -like, could die of hunger- every 42 minutes of the summer days is enough to drive a mother mad. I’m pretty sure that my days are consisting of meal prep, meal serving, meal cleaning, and kitchen cleaning – about 5-8 times a day.
My wallet and my patience need a little breathing room. I have decided to stick with a pretty basic meal plan for the rest of summer. I picked out about 8 meals to rotate through that do require cooking, but I make them in bulk and have enough for two dinners at a time. That being said, it is hot here, and I really don’t want to stand over the stove or have the oven going every day. The following meal ideas can be used for lunch or dinner. They can be packed in a cooler and taken out and about for sporting events, picnics, or playdates. A few are ‘Party-Worthy,’ but most are just plain easy.
Please don’t judge me on these meals! As long as all include high-quality (organic or as close as possible) food items, I don’t feel guilty – and neither should you. My crockpot, oven, stove, and every other heat-producing gadget gets plenty of love, so they all deserve a nice little vacation!
7 Summer Meals
That’s right, I said it. SANDWICHES. Just slap everyone’s favorites between two slices of bread and serve on a paper plate loaded with fresh fruit! You can get fancy and add creative toppings like avocado, bacon, hummus, or pesto, but there’s really no need. You kids won’t really appreciate it, and you will spend double the time in the kitchen. If anyone wants to judge your dinner options while you are watching one of your child’s late-night swim meet, just smile and toast your thermos of wine at them!
Shrimp, Edamame, and Pre-Cooked Quinoa
You can buy microwaveable pouches of mixed rice and quinoa, make it yourself earlier in the day, or use leftovers, but it’s pretty minimal effort on your part. You can let the kids top their starch with a few options: edamame, shrimp, corn, beans, squash, cucumber, avocado, hummus, the list is really endless! This is a favorite in our house and is a constant on our weekly meal plan.
Cheese, Crackers, Fruit, Veggie and Meat Buffet
Make sure you have wine for your ‘Cheese Night.’ You can cut (or buy pre-cut) several different cheeses, offer a selection of crackers and meats, such as pepperoni, turkey, ham, or salami. Include a few fruits to choose from and plenty of veggies cut up for dipping. You can have bowls of hummus, dressings, seafood dips, etc. to add to the meal.
This can be hit or miss with some kids, but if you offer toppings that they like, you should be in the clear. Everyone starts with a bowl of lettuces and then you let the toppings flow! Again, the options are endless and can include cut strawberries, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, sliced meats, and any vegetables you love. Dressing is always optional and can be traditional or out-of-the-box, like salsa!
BBQ Sandwiches (Hello Rotisserie Chicken!)
A quick $10-15 rotisserie chicken can be shredded and mixed with BBQ sauce for an easy meal. The clean-up may involve hosing children down outside, but the meal prep isn’t bad.
Shrimp Pasta Salad (You’ll cook the noodles earlier, but it is eaten cold)
Yes, you need to boil the noodles. Yes, that requires heat. But, it can be done earlier in the day, the night before, or whenever you have a spare 15 minutes. You take the pasta and mix in cold shrimp, bell peppers, peas, broccoli, edamame, and any other vegetable that you love. Stir in a bottle of Italian dressing and let it marinate together in the fridge.
Black Bean and Avocado Salsa
Dice up tomatoes, peppers, onions, avocado; add in corn, black beans, and shredded rotisserie chicken. Combine lime juice, cilantro, and vinegar with the spices of your choice and mix it all together. Top it with some sprinkle cheese and serve with tortilla chips.