Meal Planning Monday ~ Keeping It Cool in the Kitchen

This week’s blog post is by Christine Luken.


We’ve been blessed with a nice cool spell here in the Ohio River Valley, which has been a welcome relief to the sweltering heat.  As the saying goes, nothing good lasts forever!  August is bound to have some red-hot days, which makes me NOT want to turn on the oven to make dinner.  The good news is that there are plenty of ways to get a tasty meal on the table without adding too much extra heat in the kitchen.  Besides the obvious choice of grilling, here are some of my favorites.

  • Stovetop – If there’s any way I can make something on the stovetop versus the oven in the summer, I’ll do it.  Using the stovetop does put off some heat, but not nearly as much as using the oven.  Rather than baking fish or chicken, I’ll pan-fry it with a little bit of olive oil or Smart Balance cooking spray.  Stir-frying meat and veggies makes a great summer dinner, too.


  • Toaster Oven – I use my toaster oven all the time!  Since it’s just my husband and I, it’s the perfect size to roast some cauliflower, bake some sweet potato fries, or cook up a piece or two of salmon.  Because of its small size, it doesn’t put off much heat at all.  However, if you have a large family, this may not be a good option for you.


  • Crock Pot – Some people tend to think of the crock pot as a winter appliance, which always puzzles me.  We love bone-in chicken in the crock pot!  Whenever our local Kroger store has chicken on sale, I stock up the freezer.  Because I’ve got so many great recipes, we could have chicken in the crock pot once a week and not get tired of it.  Last week I threw in some carrots, potatoes, chicken broth, and a little parsley and basil with the chicken and it was fantastic!  Some of my other favorite recipes are Maple Dijon Chicken Thighs, Beer Chicken, Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken, Pesto Ranch Chicken, and Chicken with Artichoke Hearts.  You can even make dessert in the crock pot!

    • Steamer – Several of my friends and my husband are convinced that the microwave is not good for us, so we’re trying to use it less.  I picked up this steamer (pictured above with my homegrown Swiss chard) at Wal-Mart for $20, and I must say that I love it!  There’s a second basket that can be stacked on top, so that you can steam two different things at once.  Veggies taste so delicious in the steamer; they almost don’t even need butter!  We also like to steam ears of corn, but they have to be broken in half to fit in the basket.  The base is less than 12 inches across, so it doesn’t take up much room in the cabinet or on the counter, which is another big plus.

  • “Baking” with the Grill – The obvious choice for summer cooking is the grill.  Think outside of the box for firing up the grill!  Many recipes that are baked in the oven can also be made on the grill.  We purchased a new grill this summer and I love that it has a temperature gauge.  I can now “bake” my roasted salmon or my Portobello mushroom pizzas without worrying about  vercooking (or burning) our dinner!


  •  Zero Heat Cooking – Sometimes we will take leftover grilled chicken, steak, or shrimp, or taco meat and make some huge dinner salads.  A satisfying dinner with zero heat required!

What is your favorite summer recipe to make that doesn’t require slaving over a hot stove?


  1. I feel for you…I honestly do.
    We built our house so we got AC put in right from the start.
    Can not imagine life with out it.
    Sometimes I “forget” so I pull out the active fry and make dinner that way.
    We also tend to BBQ a lot and when its cooler in the day I will make a pasta salad to go whatever we are having for dinner.
    Sandwiches work well too!

  2. Andy Hayes says:

    Great tips – since we don’t have air conditioning, we use all of these! The crock pot is definitely a popular one, and we also grill out constantly. I also did a bunch of no-bake hacks this summer, mostly to success!

  3. Thank you for sharing so many cooking alternatives.

  4. christy karch says:

    I totally understand in the summer it is so hot I hate to use my oven and like you I have alternatives, I live my grill, toaster over and crockpot!!

  5. Malia says:

    I love using my crockpot!

  6. ian says:

    I like to use the slow cooker… most people tend to use it more in the winter but I just love having that smell of cooking around the house. I am also a big fan of BBQ’s

  7. I am hot all the time so I use alot of these tips already. Thanks for sharing!!

  8. Cyndie says:

    I live in SC and the heat in the kitchen is unbearable at times. i use my crock pot quite a bit and we grill a lot, too.

  9. Same here… Cooking in the oven is one of the thing that I don’t liked to do in the house in the summer time. I liked to cooked in the crock pot. Or, on the stove and the grill.

  10. Kristin says:

    Slow cooker all the way! Any recipe that involves it too LOL :)

  11. Debra says:

    I always forget about the crock pot in the summer, but I should really plan some summer meals using it.

  12. We have a steamer for rice and veggies, a crock pot for meals and now an electric pressure cooker too. I told my hubby we may as well get rid of the stove.

  13. Corinne says:

    I’m with you–I try as hard as possible to avoid turning on the oven during the summer. Consequently we do a lot of grilling or stove top meals. Occasionally I pull out the crockpot, but we don’t use it as much since I rely on it during the school year when it gets hectic.

  14. Ashley says:

    I’ve used the crock pot twice this week in the middle of summer! I love my crockpot..

  15. Beeb says:

    Yes to all of these!! I love my George Foreman grill, I’ve even used it to make lasagna with. Though when it gets really hot, all I want is a cold salad!

  16. I love using my toaster oven! I also use a veggie steamer and we grill a lot! I hardly ever use my oven!!

  17. Danielle says:

    Fantastic ideas! I find that I use my slow cooker quite a bit in the summer, especially since we are generally outside from early in the day, and then home much closer to evening. And who wants to cook after a long day outside, anyway? ;)

  18. Mommy2Jam says:

    Thanks for sharing, I need to buy a crock pot! My son broke my lid, my boys also melted my toaster (don’t ask) so I bought a toaster oven, it should be safer :)

  19. I love using the crockpot and grill. Grill in summer. Crock pot in winter. :)

  20. Jenny says:

    We don’t have any of those things. We aren’t really big on meal planning, we just kinda throw stuff together & hope it works xD

  21. One solution we have is having raw dinner i.e. fruits and raw salads :-)

  22. Sophie S says:

    I love baking outside on the grill and in a crockpot for the summer. Its super easy and keeps the house cool!