Too hot to cook?
July 13, 2023—During a heat wave, does the thought of cooking make you cringe?
Summer is a great time to switch up your meal-making routine. Try these simple strategies to save time and energy—and keep your kitchen cooler. Plus, you'll avoid hot-and-heavy meals that are harder to digest and that heat you up from the inside out.
Make no-cook foods
Switch to light summer favorites like green salads or fresh veggies and hummus. Or, simply salt and pepper sliced, ripe tomatoes, top them with fresh mozzarella cheese (optional) and a basil leaf, and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Lighten your entrée menu by going meatless. You could start with a Mexican-inspired salad. Just mix black beans, corn, chopped onions, bell peppers, avocado, jicama and other veggies of your choice. Toss with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and spices like cumin and ground chili pepper. Serve on a bed of crunchy lettuce and top with whole-grain tortilla chips.
Creamy broccoli salad or a vinaigrette-dressed cabbage slaw are great no-cook alternatives to potato or macaroni salads.
And don't forget fruit! Cut up your favorites, add a lemon-based dressing, and enjoy.
Explore more options with our summer produce ideas that make great no-cook snacks.
To help keep your kitchen cool, ditch the stove and oven and switch to smaller appliances, such as toasters, toaster ovens or slow cookers.
A slow cooker also is the perfect way to make a big batch of pulled pork or pulled chicken. Use these in sandwiches; quesadillas; and meals-in-a-bowl, with rice, veggies and toppings like cheese and sour cream.
The microwave is your secret weapon
Nuke your food to cook or reheat it. Potatoes are the perfect choice for this strategy, especially when they are part of this quick and healthy Greek potato salad.
Plus, microwave cooking is quick and energy-efficient. It also preserves the nutritional value of your food by heating it up fast without water.
Use the grill to keep your house chill
The American Heart Association offers these ideas to keep grilling healthy:
- Use pepper and other spices on meat or in marinades to reduce harmful chemical reactions from high-heat cooking.
- Reduce grilling time by cutting up meat or pre-cooking it.
- Grill veggies like sweet potatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini, corn or portobello mushrooms.
- Choose heart-healthy sides like whole-grain buns or high-fiber bean salads.
These terrific turkey burgers are what summertime meal memories are made of.
Drinking enough fluids will also keep you cooler. Avoid alcohol or very sugary drinks, which can cause dehydration. And stay away from icy cold drinks. They can cause stomach cramps.
- AARP. "6 Ways to Keep Your Home Cool." https://www.aarp.org/home-family/your-home/info-2017/tips-cooling-home-summer-heat-wave-fd.html.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "5 Quick and Healthy Meals Without Using the Stove." https://www.eatright.org/food/food-preparation/cooking-tips/5-quick-and-healthy-meals-without-using-the-stove.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Summer Is Time for Kids to Try New Foods." https://www.eatright.org/food/food-preparation/seasonal-foods/summer-is-time-for-kids-to-try-new-foods.
- American Heart Association. "5 Steps for a Heart-Healthy Grilling Season." https://www.heart.org/en/news/2022/06/27/5-steps-for-a-heart-healthy-grilling-season.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness." https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.html.
- National Weather Service. "During a Heat Wave." https://www.weather.gov/safety/heat-during.
- Produce for Better Health. "Top 10 Ways to Feature Fruit and Veggies at Your Next Picnic." https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/the-perfect-picnic.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Microwave Ovens." https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/resources-you-radiation-emitting-products/microwave-ovens#Cooking_with_Microwaves.