Easy Summer Dinners – Minimal Effort Required

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It was a very busy day and when dinner time rolled around I was pretty much over the whole thing.  I surveyed what I had in my fridge, freezer and pantry and felt very uninspired.  What I ended up serving for dinner was avocado toast and hard boiled eggs.  Then I did what any normal person would do, I shared my dinner plan on Facebook with the hashtag, #Whatever.  Everyone I know “liked” it and I got tons of comments telling me that I was basically a genius and congratulating me on serving my family a well-balanced and healthy meal.  Yeah, I did!  I was being critical of myself, but now I’ve since changed my tune and have served this easy summer meal for dinner a couple times since.   

Easy Summer Dinners

With summer fast approaching, I got to thinking, “what other easy, summer dinner ideas could I come up with that involve zero to very little effort and preparation?”  I think we can all agree that cooking dinner in Phoenix in the summer time is probably the worst activity there is, but the people need to eat and they need to eat multiple times a day.  With the help of many of my Facebook friends (I called in the experts of my community), I came up with a list of summer dinners that meet the criteria of zero to minimal effort.  My plan is to take 14 meals, which gives me a two-week rotation, and that’s what I would make for dinners throughout the summer season.  Feeling pretty good about this plan, I had to share it with Scottsdale Moms.  This is a list of 21 summer dinners because your family might not like the same things that my family likes and if you like everything on this list, you now have 3 weeks of meals with minimal effort required.  None of them require the use of the oven. You’re welcome!  Oh, and by the way, my family is dairy free due to food allergies so none of these dinners are made with dairy in our home, although we do use some dairy alternatives, like Daiya cheese, Earth Balance butter, Follow Your Heart vegan ranch dressing, and Kite Hill yogurt & cream cheese.  If you would like the exact recipe to any of these dinners, please email me at [email protected] and I will happily give them to you!   

  1. Avocado toast with hard boiled egg or another protein of choice – the dinner that started it all! 
  2. Gyros from Trader Joe’s with cucumbers, tomatoes, homemade tzatziki sauce or ranch – serve as a pita or salad. 
  3. Bean & cheese tostadas or burritos – Salsa counts as a vegetable serving, FYI.  
  4. Grilled chicken (marinated in soy sauce, ginger, lemon juice), grilled veggies, potato salad or slaw. Consider prepping the day before and grilling super early in the morning and be sure to make extra so you also have lunch. 
  5. Instant Pot chicken, shredded and used for tacos or salads or anything else you can think of. 
  6. Charcuterie board – baguette, salami, olives, leftover grilled veggies, hummus, sliced apples and strawberries.  Of course, cheese would be an excellent addition.  
  7. Asian noodle salad – rice noodles, shredded chicken, red & yellow bell peppers, snow peas, carrots, homemade ginger soy dressing.   
  8. Mediterranean quinoa salad – quinoa, shredded chicken, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, green and/or black olives, fresh basil, homemade lemon garlic balsamic dressing 
  9. Sandwiches, chips, fruit salad – my family loves to make their own sub sandwiches. 
  10. Pasta salad with pepperoni, olives, marinated mushrooms, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, veggies, Italian dressing.  
  11. Dippy Food Night – Think of your family’s favorite dips and serve with pita, carrots, cucumbers, fruit. 
  12. Rotisserie chicken with superfood salad and corn on the cob. 
  13. Grizzly Bear Dinner – Smoked salmon from Costco, served on a cutting board with Ritz crackers, avocado, fruit and whatever else is in the fridge that needs to be eaten.  We sit on the floor in the living room and watch a movie together. No plates!  
  14. Breakfast – scrambled eggs, already cooked bacon, toast, OJ, mimosa for mom. My friend says she makes a gigantic batch of pancakes and freezes them to pop into the toaster as needed.  
  15. Make your own pizzas – use Naan bread or English muffins, add whatever toppings you want and put in toaster oven to cook  
  16. Lemony, minty chicken orzo salad – shredded chicken from Instant Pot or leftovers from rotisserie chicken, orzo pasta, asparagus, peas, fresh mint leaves, homemade honey lemon garlic dressing. Use frozen peas and toss into the boiling water for orzo at the last minute of boiling.  My kids love asparagus but only the tips or the skinniest stalks, which I sauté in butter. This is also very delicious as a green salad, omitting the orzo.  Shrimp would also be a delicious swap for chicken.  
  17. Any of these summer salads from a previous SMB post.  If your kids refuse to eat salads, just serve the fixings to them.  
  18. Hamburgers on the grill – You literally cannot go the summer without grilling hamburgers.  We don’t have an air fryer, but my parents do and they use it to make frozen French fries or tater tots.  
  19. Fish tacos – Thawed from frozen tilapia pan fried with olive oil, salt & pepper to season, served with cole slaw or superfood salad, diced pineapple or mango. Serve with corn tortillas.  If you like a bit of heat, thinly slice jalapeño and squeeze lime juice over with a dash of salt, let soak for at least 30 minutes.  I make big batches of this and use on all kinds of things.   
  20. Caveman Dinner – Take everything out of your fridge that needs to be eaten and put on the table.  Let them fend for themselves.  
  21. Get takeout – Let someone else do the cooking! 

*Bonus dinner option – Mom, call your girlfriends and go out to eat while Dad and the kids have fun at home eating PB&Js.   

If you have a super easy, minimal effort, summer dinner idea, please share it with us in the comment section.  We all need some inspiration when it comes to dinner time. 

6 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks so much for this list! Lifesaver! One thing I’m trying to do this summer is keep eating fish, so tuna salad, tuna wraps, or tuna sandwiches (we love tuna melts!) are happening here. Also, we love sweet potato and black bean tostadas. Use leftover (or canned) sweet potatoes and mash them on a toasted tostada. Top with black beans and Monterey Jack cheese (if you eat dairy), a sprinkle of cumin and some salt and toast in the toaster oven.

    • I love black bean & sweet potato mixed together! I like to use for enchiladas, but tostadas would be yummy! Thanks for the idea! Also, I do love a good tuna melt! Thanks for reading and commenting! xoxo, Jennie

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