Wanted: Meal Ideas That Don’t Require Heat

This morning on our Facebook page, Melissa asked for meal ideas that don’t require heat.  I’m with her – not even grilling sounds attractive at this point!  (Although, who am I kidding – Jeremy is the one who grills in our family but he’s not going to want to do it until midnight.)  And, as much as I would like it to, our trip to Freddy’s last night doesn’t really count as a no-heat meal.

What types of things do you fix when it’s hot outside?  I know crockpots, sandwiches, and salads are always popular suggestions, but if you can share links or ideas for specific recipes, that would be awesome!

I wish I’d saw this coming and had a bunch of freezer meals ready, but that didn’t happen and it’s a little late to get started on that now.  Though, it is a good time to clean out the refrigerator and freezer and enjoy that cool air…

Over on Denver Bargains, I’m writing posts for the Eat Well, Spend Less series with a group of other bloggers, and there were some great ideas for tips on cooking when it’s hot outside, or if you’re dealing with a super busy summer schedule.  Here’s a list of ideas from the Eat Well, Spend Less bloggers:

Please share your easy, no/little-cook summer recipes by leaving a comment!



  1. One of the dressings that we’ve been enjoying lately is this Parmesan Peppercorn recipe from Cook’s Country: http://www.cookscountry.com/recipes/Low-Fat-Parmesan-Peppercorn-Dressing/8443/ A nice change up from our usual Caesar salad.

    One thing that I’ve done to change up sandwiches is to toast them. I know, I know, you have to turn on the stove and heat up a griddle, but my husband enjoys sandwiches so much more if they are toasted. Feels more like a meal and less like a picnic. :)

  2. we do smoothies and toast. boring, but refreshing. Or make up a pasta salad or a bean salad in the morning when it’s cool enough to boil some water so that it’s ready for dinner.

    I also did a pinterest search and found a decent amount of ideas. Still a lot of sandwiches and salads.

  3. Oh, another thing that is *little* cooking is pancakes. Still have to heat up a griddle but compared to what I normally do, that’s “little” cooking to me. We love Alton Brown’s recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/instant-pancake-mix-recipe/index.html

  4. I’ve been cooking things at night, when it’s cooler, for the next day. For example, last night I made some hard boiled eggs, popped popcorn and cooked pasta. We are still using the microwave to heat some things, but it keeps the total heat down by quite a bit.

    One of our standard cool (or at least cooler) meals is a big salad with grilled chicken. In cooler months we would have it with some cheese-garlic bread. Lately, I’ve been making a small dish of dried basil, oregano, garlic, etc. and olive oil for dipping un-toasted bread – no oven that way, and it’s a nice change of pace.

    I don’t have a specific recipe to link to, but things like tuna salad sandwiches, chicken salad on a bed of greens (we home-can chicken and turkey in the cold weather, so I don’t have to cook anything to make it now) and pasta salads (make the pasta at night) are all good. You can make potato salad with canned potatoes too – my neighbor only makes potato salad that way, and hers is really good.

    Last night we had ‘nibbles’. I filled a serving tray with little bowls of cherries, grapes, cheese cubes, crackers, bite-size raw vegetables, a dip and some peanuts. We just nibbled, and it was good…and cool. :) It also cleared out a lot of odds and ends from our fridge!

    • We have done “nibbles” some lately, too – love that it clears out the refrigerator!

  5. Jessica says:

    I grilled a bunch of chicken early this morning when it wasn’t too hot. My plan is to now use it in several salads, easy fix meals during this hot week.

  6. Pat Floyd says:

    Great minds think alike, when it comes to this topic in Colorado…especially up here in Fort Collins. It has been brutal. Ran across this awesome list on Food Network the other day….it sparked alot of other ideas for things that could be done on the grill in a foil packet!!
    The other thing that we have discovered is AWESOME on the grill is Pizza. There is currently a great Fine Cooking special magazine in the checkout stands on PIZZA ON THE GRILL……They are so awesome. Pizza and a cold beer or margarita…..BEAT THE HEAT!

  7. Wouldn’t it work to crock pot on the deck or in a clean garage? It seems like that would keep the heat from the crock away from the kitchen.

  8. While I don’t still live in Colorado (and do have a/c), I like to keep the heat out of the house as much as possible. I like to grill a whole bunch of stuff at once and then use it over the next several days. In one session, I might grill hotdogs, a large flank steak and several chicken breasts. Have hotdogs the first night and then as leftovers for lunch the next day. Slice 2/3 of the flank steak to be used as a meat (warmed in the microwave) for 2 separate meals served with raw fruits and veggies and then cut the rest of the steak into bite sized pieces to be used in cold in salads or wraps, or warmed (microwave) as the meat for tacos. Then the chicken breasts can be cut up and used in tons of things: tacos, green salads, wraps, chicken salad, etc. We can get about 10 meals out of all of this including a last “use it all up” meal of the leftover bits and pieces!

    I also make homemade granola late at night. Bake it for 10 minutes at 375 and then stir and put back in the oven, turn the oven off and let the granola stay in there until morning. Perfect granola and it can be eaten with milk like cereal or with yogurt – it makes a great no-heat breakfast!

    • I just made granola tonight, after dark and when things had cooled off outside. Next time I’ll use your method – I had the oven on longer, but at a lower temp. Thanks for the tip! :)

  9. I use a toaster oven on my patio for bagel pizzas, popcorn chicken, fries, sandwiches wrapped in foil. I even baked a peach blueberry cobbler in it.

  10. Sharon F. says:

    I set my turkey roaster or crockpot out on the patio to cook in the summer. It needs only a little tending, then we have fresh food. I never thought to do the same with a toaster over – great idea, Cindy! A friend sets up her camp stove out back to cook.

  11. Meredith says:

    If you’re brave enough to try it allrecipes.com has microwave recipes for all sorts of things…even meatloaf. This would mean the only heat produced would be from the hot food.

  12. Really useful links, thanks. I love spending time in my kitchen, but when you’re busy, sometimes you need something that’s just instant…but I still want to be healthy!

    You can also never go wrong with the muesli, milk and fruit option ;)

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