Easy Summer Meals Ideas

When meal planning, I try to make or prep as much as I can, ahead of time. This is especially helpful in the summer when I don’t want to do much cooking.

Below are some suggestions on how to save yourself time!

Collage of summer meals like buns, shortcake, wings, and salad.

Tips for Summer cooking

Main Entrees:

  • Marinate chicken and meat the night before and keep in fridge.
  • Make grains like pasta, potatoes, or rice 1-2 days in advance. This is especially great if they will be served cold, as it will help the other ingredients stay chilled longer.

Plate of pasta salad with feta and veggies.

Appetizers and Sides:

  • Make condiments, salad dressings, and sauces a few days in advance.
  • Salad components like canned beans or vegetables can be rinsed and stored in the fridge.
  • Wash and dice fresh vegetables several hours earlier or even the night before. Carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, and bell peppers are great to add to salads or use in kabobs.

Joby's Test Kitchen bowl of salad with dressing

Beverages and Desserts:

  • Most beverages, both alcoholic and non, can be prepped earlier. The base of the drink can be kept chilled in the fridge. Alcohol, ice cubes, or club soda can be added right before serving.
  • Homemade bread, buns, cakes, cookies, or muffins can be made ahead of time and kept in the freezer till needed. Just thaw the night before.
  • Make desserts like cheesecake and ice cream a few days in advance. Fruit pies and cobblers are actually best made earlier in the day or the night before, so the filling and flavors can meld together.

2 glasses of mango lassi with frozen mangos and topped with saffron.

Tips for Summer Baking

Speaking of baking, though I don’t like to use the oven on hot summer days, sometimes it’s unavoidable. My tips:

  • Bake early in the morning, before your house gets too hot. 
  • Bake late in the evening when you can open the windows and let in the cool breeze.
  • Schedule baking on the coolest day of the week and then freeze the baked items to enjoy later.

Joby's Test Kitchen Individual strawberry shortcake with mint leaf and whipped cream.

So if you’re planning an outdoor gathering, serving a light lunch, or simply need a quick dinner, check out the recipes below!

From appetizers to desserts, you’re sure to find something delicious to make.

Easy summer appetizers

Simple Cornmeal Muffins
These corn muffins are truly simple to make and a kid-friendly favorite!
Check out this recipe
Closeup of homemade corn muffin.
Turmeric Spiced Hummus
Creamy hummus made with simple spices for an Indian twist!
Check out this recipe
Turmeric spiced hummus with paprika sprinkled on top.
Indian Style Chicken Wings
Flavorful chicken wings with a hint of Indian spice!
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen Indian style chicken wings with chili powder, cilantro, and lemon slices.

Quick Easy summer dinners

Pasta Salad with Feta and Grilled Veggies
Pasta and grilled veggies mixed with a creamy feta dressing.
Check out this recipe
Plate of pasta salad with feta and veggies.
Lamb Burgers with Feta Sauce
Savory lamb burgers with both spicy and tangy flavors.
Check out this recipe
Closeup of lamb burger with feta sauce with cheese, spinach, and tomatoes.
Broiled Masala Salmon
Salmon seasoned with coriander, turmeric, and chili, then broiled to perfection!
Check out this recipe
Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Spinach
This pasta dish utilizes fresh summer tomatoes and baby spinach. 
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen bowl of pasta with mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes, spinach.
Salami Wrap with Dill and Cream Cheese
A savory wrap made with salami, crunchy veggies, and a creamy dill and cream cheese spread.
Check out this recipe
Sliced salami wrap with dill and cream cheese on plate.

Summer vegetable recipes

Tomato Cucumber Raita
This popular Kerala condiment is served at almost every Indian function!
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen bowl of yogurt tomato raita.
Pasta Salad with Feta and Grilled Veggies
Pasta and grilled veggies mixed with a creamy feta dressing.
Check out this recipe
Plate of pasta salad with feta and veggies.
Beet Salad with Feta and Walnuts
A fresh salad full of heart healthy ingredients and flavor!
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen bowl of beet and feta salad with walnuts, spinach, and purple onions.
Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing
This salad is full of all the good things that go into a hummus wrap: chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, and of course garlic & tahini!
Check out this recipe
Chickpea salad with tahini dressing, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley.
Indian Corn on the Cob
Sweet corn with a spicy and tangy kick!
Check out this recipe
Plate of 2 corn on the cob withs spices, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Summer Dessert recipes

Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream
Creamy chocolate ice cream with chunks of fudge brownie.
Check out this recipe
Bowl of 2 scoops chocolate brownie ice cream.
Cookie Dough Ice Cream
Check out this unique way to make your very own cookie dough ice cream!
Check out this recipe
White bowl of homemade vanilla cookie dough ice cream.
Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes
These mini cheesecakes have a golden graham cracker crust and a simple strawberry topping.
Check out this recipe
Mini strawberry cheesecake.
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Creamy sweet vanilla ice cream made with only a handful of ingredients.
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen homemade vanilla ice cream in waffle cone.
Mini Dark Chocolate Raspberry Tarts
These mini chocolate tarts are not only fun to eat, but also make a great heart healthy dessert!
Check out this recipe
Plate with mini chocolate tarts and raspberries on top.
Simple Plum Cake
A mildly sweet, tender buttery cake, with swirls of tart plums.
Check out this recipe
Mango Lassi with Frozen Mango
Creamy and sweet mango lassi, is the perfect Summer treat!
Check out this recipe
Mango lassi with frozen mango, topped with saffron in glass.
Individual Strawberry Shortcakes
Fluffy buttery biscuits topped with fresh strawberries and sweet cream!
Check out this recipe
Joby's Test Kitchen individual strawberry shortcake with fresh berries, whipped cream, and mint.

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