Simple Summer Dinner Ideas

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When your house is a million degrees and all you’ve taken care of kids all day, the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven and spend an hour in the kitchen. Here are 8 simple summer dinner ideas that you can make in a flash without HAVING hot flashes.

No one wants to cook in the summer. These 8 simple summer dinner ideas involve minimal prep, heat, mess, and stress!
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Less Mess Simple Summer Dinners

These meals are some of my summer favorites because they have simple, fresh ingredients, are ready to go in minutes, and don’t heat your house.

Plus, they’re easy to mix and match fillings, toppings, and ingredients for variations to keep you from getting bored.

BLT Sandwiches

BLTs are the ultimate simple summer dinner idea.

I know I’m not the only one who appreciates a classic BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato) Sandwich. This meal hits a bunch of food groups, comes together quickly, and can easily be adjusted for preferences.

Picky eaters? Let them make different letter combos — one of my kids opts to skip the “T” and enjoys a BL.

I enjoy my BLTs on wheat toast with a little bit of mayo. Add in some turkey or avocado for a bit of a twist.

Chicken Avocado Sandwiches

I can’t properly convey to you how much my kids love this simple summer dinner. They love it so much I have a whole page dedicated to the recipe.

Chicken and avocado sandwiches are one of our favorite simple summer meals.

Chicken avocado sandwiches, made with just shredded chicken, mashed avocados, chopped onion, and lime juice, are perfect for hot summer days. We serve ours on kaiser rolls, but it would also be good on top of a garden salad.

Cook and shred chicken in advance (or buy it in a can) to reduce the time to get dinner on the table.

I regularly cook whole chickens in my crock pot, then shred the meat for meals throughout the week.

Garden Salad with Chicken or Tuna

Nothing beats the simplicity of a fresh salad and topped with meat on a hot summer day. If you’ve got a backyard garden, this dinner is even simpler (and cheaper).

Simple garden salads topped with grilled chicken are an ideal summer dinner.

Whether you opt to pick up a salad kit and good old frozen chicken fingers or chop up some romaine and toss some chicken breasts on the grill, this meal cooks up in less than 20 minutes and meets the veggie quotas.

Get your kids involved by having them wash and chop vegetables. Keep some crispy toppings and kid-pleasing dressings on hand.

We eat fresh salads once or twice a week during the summer.

Shish Kabobs on the Grill

Basically, anything on the grill is a winner for us in the summer, but shish kabobs takes it up a notch. Something about the skewer just gets everyone excited.

Shish kabobs take a little extra prep time as chopping and skewering, but they’re flexible and fun to customize.

Shish kabobs on the grill? Yes, please.

Starting with a protein such as chicken, steak, or shrimp. Next, add in some veggies such as tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Alternate each item on the skewer and then top with a favorite salad dressing or marinade.

We enjoy shish kabobs on rice or quinoa.

Crock Pot Sandwiches

Crock pot meals are fantastic in the summer because they only take minutes of prep work and don’t turn your kitchen into a sauna.

Pulled pork, barbeque chicken, and sloppy joes are simple summer dinner ideas that won't heat up your home!

Sandwich fillings made in the crock pot are hot, but once you put it on a bun and slap some potato salad on the side, it’s definitely a summer meal.

Some of our favorite crock pot sandwiches are:

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes in the crock-pot are stupid-easy. Ground beef, bell peppers, and onions are mixed with various kitchen staples to make everyone’s favorite mess of a sandwich. Cook it in the crock-pot while you head to the pool and serve dinner the minute you walk in the door.

Here’s a simple sloppy joe crock-pot recipe.

Pulled Pork

Have you tried the packets of pulled pork seasoning mix? You mix them with some ketchup and vinegar, pour them over pork in your crock-pot and walk away. Shred the pork when it’s done and serve on a roll or on top of rice.

BBQ Chicken

It doesn’t get any easier than this — I literally throw a pound or two of chicken breasts in a crock-pot, cover it with all the barbeque sauce I can squeeze out of a jar, and then let it sit. I shred it when it’s done cooking and serve it on kaiser rolls.

Simple Sushi Bowls

I don’t know if this is an actual thing anywhere outside of my home, but my kids absolutely love it. They love vegetarian sushi, but since we’re in various stages of major orthodontia work, actual sushi can be hard to chew and swallow.

Enter – sushi bowls.

We create this meal by prepping sushi rice (basically rice, sugar, and rice wine vinegar – find a recipe here) and then topping it with a variety of chopped fruits and vegetables.

Our favorite sushi bowl toppings:

  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Mango
  • Shredded Carrots
  • Bell Peppers

We are happy to keep this meal vegetarian, but if you prefer to add a protein, some good options are shrimp, crab, or tuna.

Winner, winner, snack tray dinner.

Leftover Snack Trays

I know this doesn’t sound like a dinner, but I promise, it’s a hit. Take a bunch of things that no one wants to eat, that have been sitting in the fridge for weeks and cut them up.

Put them on a platter or a tray and dump it in the middle of the table. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips around the tray for good measure (and don’t police them). It’s magic. 

I usually do this when my husband is away for dinner (mostly because he’ll clear the entire tray himself). It’s super casual and perfect for a living room picnic.

Here are some simple additions to any snack tray:

  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Crackers
  • Vegetables
  • Dip
  • Fruits
  • Pretzels
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs
  • Raisins/Craisins
  • Pickles
  • Olives

I am for simple finger foods, but literally anything goes.

Cold Pasta Salad

As with a few other meals I mentioned, this will take some prep work and heat when you make the pasta, but if you do it in the morning, it’s much less intense.

Cold pasta salad is a perfect dinner on a hot summer day.

Caprese is always my favorite. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the summer—especially when I can grab most of the ingredients fresh out of my garden. 

Basic Pasta Salad with fresh vegetables, cheese, olives, and pepperoni mixed up with a jar of your favorite Italian dressing is a simple crowd pleaser — it’s like a charcuterie board in a bowl.

Tuna and Apple Pasta Salad is another family favorite. We mix elbow noodles, a few cans of tuna (prepared with mayo), and an apple or two chopped into cubes altogether. Sprinkle the tiniest bit of black pepper on top and viola. Whenever I make this meal, it’s gone almost instantly.

Pasta salads are always a hit here. Add in some beans, grilled chicken or beef for a boost of protein.

Simple Summer Dinner Ideas

These are 8 of my favorite simple summer dinner ideas. They are quick to cook, easy to serve, and keep my family healthy and happy.

No one wants to cook in the summer. These simple summer dinner ideas involve minimal prep, heat, mess, and stress! Bring it on.

What simple summer meals would you add to this list?

2 thoughts on “Simple Summer Dinner Ideas”

  1. These are great ideas, Melissa! Thank you. Tuna and apple pasta salad. Never would I have thought to add apple with tuna. I must give this a try! Sounds like a perfect summer dinner!

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