I find that the seasons really dictate how much time I spend in the kitchen and what kind of meals I prepare for my family. For example, you can usually find me making some veggie soup on a chilly, rainy day or roasting a chicken and some butternut squash during the month of January. I really enjoy spending time in the kitchen during the cooler months–not so much when temps are scorching hot and the humidity is high.
Although we’re only into June, my community has already weathered a few heat waves and I’m certain more are on their way over the next few months. Since completely avoiding the kitchen isn’t an option, I have to come up with ways to minimize my meal preparation time and make things that are appetizing during the summer months. This is when I look to fruits and vegetables more than ever. Meals and their prep during summer are all about quick, easy and light!
Salads, wraps, cold soups like gazpacho–they’re all perfect for warm weather and easy to prepare. Plus, the fact that so many fruits and veggies are at their peak of flavor this season makes these options even more appealing. Rather than heat up the kitchen by turning on the oven, I take advantage of the grill. Aside from the obvious (chicken, burgers and steak), so many vegetables (and fruit!) can be grilled.
This is also a great opportunity to pull out my slow cooker where one pot meals can be made with ease. For example, add cut up veggies like potatoes, carrots, onions and peas along with boneless, skinless chicken breast to the slow cooker in the morning. Pour in a can of reduced fat cream of mushroom soup along with some extra herbs for flavor and set the cooker on low. By that evening you’ll have a meal that is very similar to chicken pot pie without the crust. Add a salad and some whole grain bread and you’ve got yourself dinner. Little effort, little mess and little time spent in the kitchen.
There are two recent Insider’s Viewpoint entries, which I think are very helpful. Gear Up for the Grill has great tips for grilling fruits and vegetables. Fruit & Veggie Combos for Salads or Wraps has some interesting pairings you should try while so many items are in season. Enjoy and stay cool this summer!