Budget Summer Meals for Those Insanely hot Days

When the weather warms up the kitchen menu changes and many of us are looking for some budget summer meals.

budget summer meals


Guys, it’s HOT this week.  Like, heat wave weather.  It’s only the end of June and we’ve had a few heat waves already.  That’s a little unusual for our side of the world.  We definitely get at least a heat wave or two each summer, but usually it doesn’t happen till at least mid-July or August.

I’m thinking it’s going to be a HOT summer.

You know what I HATE doing on hot days?  Cooking.  Heating up the kitchen.  Ain’t no central air here.

I love how my produce always seems to be ready to can on the hottest days of the year as well.  It’s like my tomato pants say, “it’s a heatwave!  Time to ripen so Amanda has to make tomato sauce.”

Canning is the worst in a heatwave.  Oh, sure, you are always thankful you did it while you enjoy the abundance of your garden in the middle of the winter, but in late August when you are leaning over a steaming canning pot you seriously start to question your sanity.

Anyways, all that to say, I like to minimize the amount of times I use the oven in the summer.  Much to my family’s disappointment I tend to bake a lot less in the summer as well.  Oh, I’ll definitely make pies when the blueberries come in season, and every now and then I’ll bake some muffins, but I save my regular weekly baking for the cooler months.

I don’t let all that good summer fruit I use for baking go to waste though.  I tend to just freeze it so I can use it at a later time.  Right now my freezer is storing a ton of rhubarb that I recently picked so I can use it to bake with on days that are a little cooler.  Also, side note – rhubarb is a vegetable, not a fruit. 🙂

I’m always on the lookout for some cheap summer meals to make at this time of year.  The ones that I can make with minimal use of the oven.  Extra points if the recipe includes the BBQ because then I don’t have to make dinner.  That’s right, the BBQ is my husband’s domain and I’m very happy to keep it that way.  If I don’t know how to use it I can’t cook dinner on the nights the BBQ is required, right?

Today I’m going to share with you some budget summer meals you can make all season long that are delicious, cheap, and don’t require too much oven or stove use.


Cheddar BLT Cobb Salad – If you have your own garden salads are a great choice in the second part of summer but even if you don’t produce is cheaper at this time of year as well.  Eggs are cheap, whether you have chickens or buy them.  This salad has bacon on it but you could also add some chicken to it if you like to make it more substantial.

Ground Beef Tacos – I love tacos because it’s always amazing to me how they make a pound of beef stretch so far.  While you do cook the meat on the stovetop it doesn’t take that long and you don’t have to cook anything else so it’s perfect for those warmer nights.

Marinated Pork Chops – This recipe actually tells you how to cook these pork chops on the stove but you can take this recipe and cook them on the grill instead.  We’ve done it plenty of times.  We buy the pork loin when it is on sale and slice it into chops for a cheaper option.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork – The slow cooker is your friend in the hotter months.  It doesn’t heat up the kitchen nearly as much as the oven, and if you really wanted to you can even plug the cooker outside.  Pulled pork is an easy meal that is pretty affordable when you buy pork loin on sale.  Serve it on some buns with a side of coleslaw and you’ve got yourself an easy dinner.

BLTs – Chances are you don’t need a recipe for this one but I’m sharing one anyways, in the odd case that someone has never had a BLT and are not sure what it is.  This is another great idea for dinner if you have a garden with a lot of tomatoes and lettuce.

Grilled Pizza – That’s right, pizza can be cooked on the grill.  Homemade pizza is amazing as it is, but cooking it on the grill just adds a whole other dimension!

Summer Rice Salad – A few years ago rice salads were my go-to lunches in the summer months.  They are so cheap to make, and really satisfying.  They are also very versatile too.  You can add beans or chicken for something a little more substantial.  I always used whatever vegetables I had on hand mixed with some rice vinegar and oil.  I would make one big pot of rice and use it for meals for the rest of the week.

Grilled Italian Sausage Wraps – Sausages on the BBQ are a perfect summer meal and these wraps give a little twist on your traditional sausage dinner.

Sloppy Joes – This is another one that you WILL use the stove for, but only for a very short time so it doesn’t heat up the house too much.  It’s affordable, and quick to make.  Perfect for the summer months.

BLT Pasta Salad – This salad is hearty enough to be a full meal.  Pasta is so cheap, and who wants hot pasta in the summer? Not me.  Cold pasta salad is the way to go.  This is another great one to take to picnics or BBQs.  It’s definitely a crowd pleaser, and an affordable crowd pleaser at that!



I find the best meals in the summertime are the ones that are simple to make with minimal cooking.  Summer is a busy season – whether it’s work on a homestead or just having a lot of good outdoor fun.  In the summer we are in and out a lot more between trips to the beach, canoeing, or visiting friends and so I don’t want to waste a lot of time in the kitchen.  I enjoy cooking in the cooler months, but in the summer it’s time to take a bit of a break.

One of the ways to minimize the amount of times you are using the stove or oven in the week is to cook a bunch of food at one time.  So, for example, if you need chicken for salads you can cook a bunch of it at one time and use it up over the next few days.  The same goes for making a big pot of rice like I mentioned earlier.  You can store it in the fridge for a few days and eat it for multiple meals.

And of course, using appliances like slow cookers and BBQs will help minimize how much heat you have indoors.  Our house stays a lot cooler if we aren’t cooking too much on those really hot days.

What about you?  Is there a favorite summer meal you like to make?  I’d love to hear what it is.  leave it in the comments below.




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