There’s always so much going on in summer that it’s hard to pass up all the fun activities which present themselves. There are the usual graduation parties, weddings and play dates to work in, plus so many fun community events to attend. The farmer’s market, the community wide yard sale summer reading programs and events at the library and concerts in the park. Add to that any activities the kids are in and you’ve got yourself one busy summer! To be able to fit in most of these activities, and not sacrifice our health or budget, we aim for easy summer dinners. I try not to crack open my cookbooks and opt for simple meals that can be put together in minutes. Here are some of our family’s favorite quick summer supper meal ideas:
A hearty meal that includes plenty of protein, starches and veggies (I like to also toss in chopped onions and green and red peppers for an added nutritional boost) that takes less than half an hour from start to finish. Let everyone top off their portion with sour cream, guacamole and hot sauce and add a fresh fruit salad and you’ve got a meal.
Baked Potato Bar
This was my mom’s go-to supper when time was tight. She’d scrub some potatoes and toss them in the microwave (but baking potatoes on the grill is an option) while she got the toppings ready. Toppings were highly dependent on what was on hand but often included: left over taco meat or grilled chicken, a can of black beans, chopped green onions, shredded cheddar or pepper-jack cheese, sour cream, crumbled bacon, diced tomatoes and chopped bell peppers. We’d pile our potato high with toppings to create a filling meal. You can also adapt this idea for a quick taco, burrito or quesadilla meal.
Take this childhood staple to a whole new level with sourdough bread, fine cheese and fresh veggies. Eaten regularly enough, my kids now prefer this to the traditional white bread and processed cheese variety. I like to pair this with a fresh salad for a filling, veggie-packed meal for a light summer supper.
Kids love these! Split a banana in half and spread nut butter on the cut sides. Top with generous dollops of yogurt. Top with a sprinkling of granola, blueberries and chopped strawberries.
This is perfect for leftovers but can be made fresh as well. Just toss some meat (about a cup) and veggies (one cup per person; we like onions, bell peppers, carrots and cabbage) together in a skillet with a bit of olive oil and sauté for a few minutes. Add some cooked rice and some soy sauce and you’ve got a filling meal.
Crock Pot Chicken
An easy set-it-and-forget-it recipe that you cannot screw up! Place 4-5 frozen chicken breasts in the crock pot; top with a packet of dry Lipton Onion Soup Mix and chopped potatoes, onions, carrots and celery. Add water to cover the ingredients and cook on medium-low all day. To switch this up: swap out the chicken for a beef or pork roast, or forgo the soup mix and add a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce.
What’s on your simple summer dinner menu?