It’s HOT out there. Having a tiny kitchen in a house with no air conditioning does not help! I don’t feel like cooking or baking anything unless it’s absolutely necessary.
But we still have to eat!
No-Cook Meal Ideas
It’s beginning to warm up outside and that means that busier days and less time spent inside are on the horizon. But a family still must eat! So just how do we feed our family when we just want to be outside and we would rather not spend extra on our air conditioning costs as we heat up the oven to cook?
There are a few great solutions to this problem. Here are some simple ideas on how to handle the too-hot-to-cook summer days. These meals and ideas are perfect for the days when you don’t want to heat up your home during the day by turning on the oven.
Alternative Cooking Methods
One good option is slow cooker meals. You won’t heat up your kitchen and house and you still will get a great filling meal. The only downside to this solution is the meal will be a hot dish so if you are already warm you may not feel like eating a hot meal!
Some of our very favorite slow cooker meals are:
- Slow Cooker Steak
- BBQ Meatballs
- Shredded Beef
- Homemade Vegetable Soup (with fresh garden veggies of course!)
- Scalloped Potatoes
Plus you can find 77 more super simple slow cooker recipes here.
Don’t want to pull out the slow cooker? How about the grill or the air fryer?
We have a large griddle-style grill on our deck off the kitchen that I frequently use in the summer when the temps are too high to cook indoors. I don’t have an air fryer but I know many people that love cooking that way as well!
Make It Now Eat It Later
Another great option is to make up some make ahead or freezer meals. Even though you do have to heat up the oven to make most of those meals, you could try and make as many of them as possible at night when it is a little cooler in the house or when you can open the windows and let in some cooler air while you are cooking.
I love doing make-ahead meals at our house (especially for things like sides and breads), here are some of our favorites:
- Homemade Sausage Patties
- Easy Refried Beans
- Slice and Bake Sugar Cookies
- Homemade Beef and Bean Burritos for the Freezer
- Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches
- Cheesy Chicken Crescents Freezer Meal Recipe
- Freezer Cooking in an Hour (Gluten Free & Real Food!)
- Cook Ahead Freezer Rice
Cold Cut Plate
One of my kids’ favorite summer “meals” is a very un’fancy charcuterie tray. We often have this for an easy lunch because I don’t usually feel like cooking right in the middle of a hot day. Some of our favorite items to have on our “big plate” are:
- Any cold-cut meats
- Pretzels or Crackers
- Celery with veggie dip
Find Recipes with Fewer Ingredients
It may not sound like a big change, but if you make recipes that contain fewer ingredients, you will spend less time in the kitchen because you will have less to prep and less to clean up.
Just because you use fewer ingredients doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on flavor! Here are some recipes that we love to make with 5 ingredients or less:
- Quick 5 Ingredient or Less Recipes
- Fresh Garden Recipes With 5 Ingredients Or Less
- Simple 5 Ingredient Recipe for White Cheese Dip
- 3 Ingredient Raspberry Sherbert Recipe
- 3 Ingredient Mac and Cheese
- Three Ingredient Biscuits
Here are more great no cook meal ideas to try as well:
- Taco Salad -with cold refried beans (these are good to have in the freezer) and Homemade Salsa
- Cold Pasta (make the evening before when it’s not hot and refrigerate) – with a sharp or aged cheese and fresh veggies mixed in, topped with a vinegar based dressing.
- Tacos – with cold refried black beans and fresh garden veggies
- Anything Grilled!
- Avocado Feta Hummus
- 7 Layer Taco Dip
- Chef Salad
- Waldorf Chicken Salad or Egg Salad (make the night before) or this Best Creamy Cucumber Salad Recipe
- Chef Salad – with homemade dressing! (Like Ranch Dressing, Dorthy Lynch, Russian Dressing, ect)
- BLT Salad (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato!)
- Strawberry Spinach Salad
- Sandwiches – with various cold cuts or meats
- Peach Blueberry Salad
- Spinach, Apple, and Glazed Pecan Salad
No Cook Meal Ideas from Readers
Many of you also shared some of your great no-cook meal ideas with me so I’m adding them to this blog post for everyone to enjoy!
- Macaroni salad and cold cuts. – Cheryl
- Deviled eggs – Mary
- Lettuce wraps. – Jane
- Taco salad. – Jane
- Always Potato or Macaroni Salad or ..Cole Slaw – Debbie
- Taco salad with leftover cooked chicken. – Laura
- Chef salad. – Jerry
- Grain salads with lots of veggies- couscous or bulgar. – Sam
- Chicken salad (using canned chicken). – Roni
- Asian chicken salad with leftover Costco chicken rotisserie. I add Mandarin oranges and won ton strips. – Ellen
- Leftover steak I slice and make NamTok ( my version) steak salad( Thai dish) or a peanut sauce dressing over rotisserie chicken and salad or even cold spaghetti noodles and slivered cucumbers. – Ellen
- You can do Ramen noodle salad too( you do have to boil those Al dente and add fresh green onions and slivered carrots/cucumbers). Or you can crumble the dry Ramen and add it to salad to replace won ton strips. – Ellen
- Pita bread( I like soft and fluffy ones so like naan) with hummus( fresh better), cucumber and tomato salad or tabbouleh(Trader Joe’s has ones already made in little tubs) and I make a mint chutney yogurt sauce from my garden( very refreshing). – Ellen
- Chinese chicken salad. Get Rotisserie chicken from the store, Cabbage, Sliced roasted unsalted almonds, 1 pkg Ramen noodles broken into pieces by hand, Green onions (i leave these out, just a personal preference), and Asian Sesame dressing. Easy to throw together and very yummy. – Sally
- Charcuterie boards, caprese salad, or any kind of fresh green salads. – Mary
Don’t forget the desserts! Here are some yummy no bake desserts:
- No Bake Cookies
- No Bake Cookie Dough Treat
- No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
- Simple Chocolate Truffles
And of course, there is plenty of fresh garden produce this time of year to feast on! Be sure and make frequent stops at the Farmer’s Market on the days that they are open to be able to indulge in the freshest in-season produce.
Hopefully, you’ve been able to find some great inspiration for no-cook meals in this article for when it’s just too hot or busy to turn on the oven during the day and put in much effort in the kitchen.
What are some of your favorite no cook meal ideas for hot summer days?
This article on No Cook Meals for Hot Summer Days was originally posted on Little House Living in July 2014 and has been updated in July 2022.