Check out these practical tips on how to prepare real food meals in the summer! Cooking food without heating up your home is possible!
By Sarah Nichols, Contributing Writer
It is officially summer, and as I sit at my keyboard typing this post, the city I live in is under an excessive heat warning. Just yesterday it was a balmy 117 degrees. I know not everyone lives in the desert, but even 90 degrees can be quite uncomfortable if you don’t have an air conditioner.
For the millions of people trying to live on a budget, summertime can be quite difficult. You want to save money by not cooling down the house too much, but you also need to save money by cooking your meals at home. Cooking at home is great, except it heats up the house and can become very uncomfortable.
Thankfully, I have learned some helpful strategies along the way on how to feed my family during the summer without heating up my home. Sometimes it requires creativity and straying from the usual repertoire of meals, but that often adds some whimsical fun to the long summer days and can create some great family memories.
So grab yourself a nice ice-cold glass of your favorite summertime drink and enjoy the following tips.
Tips for Cooking Food Without Heating up Your Home
1. Turn off the oven in exchange for other appliances that produce less heat.
- Use a blender to make smoothies, sauces, and dips. Think hummus with sliced veggies, marinara sauce or pesto to go over zucchini noodles, guacamole. If you have a high-end blender, you can also make and heat up a variety of soups without using the stove top.
- Employ your waffle maker to make more than just waffles. For a fraction of the heat, you can make everything from hash browns to quesadillas in your waffle maker. Check out this list for some fun ideas!
- Break out the rice cooker and use it to make more than just rice. Macaroni and cheese, sausage jambalaya, oatmeal, and taco soup are just some of the fun things you can make with no fuss in a rice cooker! Check out this post for a bunch of ideas.
- Put all of those slow-cooker recipes you have pinned on Pinterest to good use. Plan ahead by creating a bunch of freezer meals and you won’t even have to worry about food prep/dishes on those days.
- A pressure cooker is another great appliance that can help keep the kitchen cool and make a variety of tasty dishes!
- If you have a spiralizer or veggie noodler, it is really easy to make your own, healthy veggie noodles and will save you from having to boil water to cook regular pasta noodles. A lot of recipes call for sauteeing veggie noodles, but if you really don’t want to heat up that stove top, this step can often be skipped without a big sacrifice in taste.
2. Take those appliances and stick them outside!
This is one of my favorite tips for reducing heat. I just stick the crock pot or the roaster oven or the rice cooker outside to do the cooking. Make sure to put it in a safe place where it won’t be a fire hazard or subjected to wind/rain etc.
3. Cook in large batches.
If you absolutely have to heat up the oven or an appliance, go ahead and triple or quadruple whatever you are doing, so in the future, when you need that ingredient, you can pull it out of the refrigerator or freezer already cooked. You can read how I do this with potatoes here. Meat, beans and rice are other great options to cook in large batches. If you are using your oven, be sure to do it in the early morning or late evening instead of during the hottest part of the day.
4. Fire up the grill!
Grilling outside in the heat isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to do, but it is often worth it to keep the house nice and cool. You can also break out the camping stove.
5. If you are really adventurous, invest in a solar oven.
I have not tried cooking with a solar oven, but it’s something I would like to look into. I think it would make some fun family memories and teach important survival skills. Here’s some great information about cooking with a solar oven.
6. Use your stovetop wisely.
If your options are limited and you have to use your stove top, use the smallest burner possible and use a lid to trap the heat and help the food to cook faster. On these days I use a portable fan in the kitchen to keep the air circulating.
7. Opt for meals that don’t require cooking.
Here’s to surviving summer on a budget! You can keep your house cool while eating home-cooked meals.