Summer is here – at least for us living in the northern hemisphere. School is over, the weather is hot, and it can also be humid in many areas. I bet you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen all day long!
Everybody is touting that the abundant fruits and vegetables during summer make it easy to eat healthily. That’s true. However, it still requires some planning and meal prep to achieve that.
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In this post, I am giving tips that have worked for my family to create quick, easy, healthy, and flavorful meals, whether we are spending our summer in the US or Greece (where temperatures can reach 110F).
Below you’ll discover how to create quick, easy, healthy, and flavorful meals without having to stand at the stove and sweat the entire time during the hot summer days. In addition, you’ll be able to enjoy the summer with the rest of your family without hitting the local fast food or pizza place when lunch or dinner time comes.
Keep fruits and vegetables washed and ready to eat.
During summer, we all crave something chilled and juicy. So instead of reaching for ice cream or some other sugar-laden or fat-heavy snack, fruit and vegetables are the way to go!
Try your local farmer’s market to take advantage of the best seasonal produce, bring home that farm-to-table freshness, and save some money.
Wash the fruit and vegetables as soon as you bring them home, cut them into pieces (if needed), and store them in containers, so they are always at hand and ready to eat.
This makes it easy to add something fresh to every meal or just as a snack. It is the perfect time to indulge and enjoy all the fresh produce available.
Tip: Bring your kids to the farmer’s market. This is a great and budget-friendly summer activity for the whole family!
Another great way to use fresh produce is to make at-home smoothies!
They are also so refreshing in the summer, giving you that sweet, sugary flavor without all that added sugar of a store-bought one. Like with every other recipe, you have complete control over every ingredient when you make your smoothies at home.
Another reason to make smoothies at home is that they are a great way to get hidden veggies into your kids’ diet.
So, put your blender to good use and make some smoothies!
Slow cookers are not a winter-only appliance. They are also great for use in the summer, as you dump the recipe’s ingredients into the slow cooker insert, turn it on, and let it cook while you’re out for a day of fun. Then, when you get home, dinner will be ready!
This is a great, and maybe the easiest, way to save time in the kitchen. Just cook a double batch of the recipe or two meals simultaneously.
Since you’ll already be cooking, adding a second dish to the oven or on the stovetop won’t take any extra time. And the next day you’ll be glad you don’t have to cook for that day too!
One of my favorite ways to have cooling, healthy and delicious meals is to search for recipes where I don’t have to cook. Think of meal-worthy salads (pasta salads, quinoa salads, bean salads, green salads, etc.), sandwiches, fruit salads for something sweet, and overnight oats for breakfast.
By boiling the pasta and quinoa ahead of time, you can save time. And having some low-sodium cans or various beans makes preparing a meal-worthy salad a breeze.
Eating healthy during the hot and lazy summer days can be challenging. However, with some meal planning, you can create better food choices than going to get some fast food.
Need some ideas for no-cook meals? Check out this post
Meal or Menu Planning
Plan your weekly meals. That way prepping is easier and faster. If you’re unsure what meal is to come during the week, you could spend a long time going through your cupboards to figure out what sounds good or with an extra trip to the grocery store.
This does take time if you do it yourself, but meal planning services will do it for you. They include the week’s or month’s menu, plus a grocery list matching the recipes. You then print off the grocery list and the recipes, and you are good to go.
Next, go through your cupboards and cross out anything you already have. Add groceries like snacks, and you’ve just saved hours of planning time.
Prep Meals Ahead
Prepping saves you time and is the best way to make an easy meal. There are a few different ways to prep your meals. One would be to pick a day during the weekend or when you have time off from work.
Cut and prepare the ingredients for all the meals of the week ahead. You can even cook most of them. Think of salads (add the dressing just before serving), grilling chicken, cooking beans, or marinating meat.
When making casseroles, slow cooker meals, and soups, make an extra portion and put it in the freezer. Another way to get healthy freezer meals is to create a menu and schedule a day to get it all done.
You can freeze things like rice and quinoa in individual or family-size portions. Plus, brown rice is great to have cooked and frozen since it takes quite a while to cook, so pre-made helps.
Everybody I know agrees that one of the easiest ways to make fun, flavorful, and healthy meals is to use the grill. So you are getting to spend time outside, with the bonus that whatever you cook will be healthier.
Grilling takes very little time to prepare. Put your vegetables in foil, a grilling mat/basket, or right on the grill. The side dish can also be simple, like potatoes in foil with some seasoning.
Preferably, pick a lean protein, but the great thing about grills is that they don’t hold the fats in the pan while it is being cooked. Instead, they drip down into the BBQ, producing naturally low-fat meals.
Remember that we can gravitate to barbecues with steak burgers in the summer. Still, red meat is only consumed in small amounts in the Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle.
Opt for fish, seafood, and poultry as your go-to protein for the barbeque. It is lighter while still leaving you full. So get some chicken breasts, cook whole chickens, and get a good amount of fish and seafood. Shrimp, salmon, tuna, and halibut are all great for the summer.
There are many ways to create quick, easy healthy, and delicious summer meals, and the ones above are some that you can start using immediately. Try them out, and let me know which ones work best for you and your family in the comments.
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- What is the Mediterranean Diet?
- Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle
- Mediterranean Diet Food List
- Mediterranean Diet Resources