By: Jodie Shield, RD
If you can’t stand the heat . . . get out of the kitchen. But your family’s hungry, so what do you do? No sweat! Cook-less summer meals can be ready in no time. The following tips will help you get dinner on the table in a hurry.
Maximize food groups. Use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPyramid Menu Planner to plan your family’s dinner menus (www.mypyramid.gov). It will help you make sure that everyone is eating the recommended number of servings from each of the food groups: Grains, Fruit, Vegetable, Milk, and Meat and Beans. And you can also print a MyPyramid daily eating plan for each family member, too.
Minimize cooking time. The rule of thumb for cooking in hot weather is the less heat you use, the better. During the dog days of summer, take a vacation from baking and broiling, because they generate the most heat and will make your kitchen feel like an oven. Try cooking those burgers and marinated chicken breasts on an outdoor grill instead. stir-frying pork strips or sea scallops in a wok is a quick way to prepare dinner without heating up the kitchen. And remember, microwaving is another quick way to cook that will help keep your kitchen cool.
Think convenience. Shop for items that are precooked, such as deli-roasted chicken or casseroles and prewashed and peeled vegetables. A ready-to-eat salad in a bag topped with vegetables from your garden, tuna, and grated cheese is a meal in itself. Although convenience foods do cost a little more, you’ll save precious time.
Cook when it’s cool. Take advantage of the cooler weather or cooler parts of the day like early morning by making an extra pan of lasagna or loaf of banana bread and stashing it in your freezer.
This summer turn off the stove but not nutrition with these easy meal-prep tips. Got any tips you’d like to share?