In the heat of summer, it's nice to avoid overheating the kitchen while making your meals. Here are a few no-cook meal ideas to help you stay cool while staying full!
No-Cook Meal Ideas
When we think of making dinner, it's common to think of turning on the oven, firing up the grill, or lighting the stove. Why's that? Sometimes, nothing beats a nice hot meal.
Plus, some things—such as many meats—just need to be cooked before they become safe to consume. So we end up investing some serious sweat equity in the kitchen just to get some food on the table.
It doesn't always have to be this way! A hot summertime is a great season to minimize time spent using an extra furnace in your home. Here's five easy ideas to get you brainstorming about ways to spend less time tending the fire and more time relaxing in comfort.
Easy No-Cook Meals
Some no-cook meals are just that: there's no heating in the preparation from start to finish. Technically Oreos are a no-cook meal, with that broad of a definition, though it probably isn't the best to specialize that much...
That said, sometimes it's just as valuable to have meals that minimize cooking (one-cook meals, I guess you could call them). One of the nice things about meal-prepping in the summer is that you can do the heat-centric work (cooking meats, pastas, rice, etc.) toward the beginning of the week, and enjoy things at a cooler temperature in the following days.
These five no-cook meal ideas contain a couple of meals that might involve cooking at some stage, but are delicious served cold. Plus, some of that cooking could be avoided, such as by using canned chicken for the Chicken Salad or buying pre-made pasta salad.
1. Pasta Salads
Pasta salad is slightly more complicated than it may seem at first blush. Some people just think of it as a standard pasta dish served cold, yet I defy them to find anyone (outside of college) who's choosing to have their spaghetti and meatballs chilled.
The question about the identity of a pasta salad—is it pasta served as a salad, or is it salad made with pasta?—is something like the question of zebra's stripes. Whatever it is, really, it's certain you can find one that you'll like. One of my favorites? This Summer Orzo Pasta Salad.
2. Charcuterie Boards
Some people see the word charcuterie and their eyes glaze over. Others start drooling. Whatever your feelings, it's a great way to avoid doing any cooking for a delicious snack—or entire meal!
There's like more going on in the cured meats section at your local grocery than you realized. Of course, there are pre-made charcuterie packs on offer, but you'll have more fun if you make your own.
How to make a charcuterie board
- Get some cured meats.
- Grab a couple of fun-looking cheeses.
- Grapes? Berries? Jellies? Jams? Give them a go.
- Olives? Savory spreads? Grab those too.
- Crackers? Breads? Mini toasts? Do it.
- Got a big fancy wooden board? Use it. You can also just use whatever you've got, such as a large plate or baking sheet. Whatever you use, arrange everything in a way that makes you feel fancy.
- Enjoy your delicious charcuterie board.
3. Spring Rolls
There's a decent amount of variation in what people mean by "spring roll." I'm thinking rice paper wrappers, fresh veggies, and a delicious peanut sauce for dipping. The kind that are so freakin' tasty and so cool you'll almost swear they're quenching your thirst.
I'm referring to a fresh Vietnamese spring roll. There can be some cooking involved here (noodles, shrimp, etc.), but again that can be circumvented depending on how dedicated you are to staying cool.
Don't be intimidated by the rice paper! The ability to make an excellent spring roll is well within your ability, and you owe it to yourself to try!
4. Chicken Salad Sandwiches
I probably don't need to explain what a chicken salad sandwich is. Get one of your favorite chicken salad recipes, put it on some bread, and profit.
Like I mentioned before, you can use canned chicken if you want to avoid the whole chicken-cooking process, but chicken salads are also good for batch-cooking, so you'll only have the bear the heat once.
You could also substitute tuna, egg, or tofu for chicken here. It's all pretty yummy.
5. Poke Bowls
Are you skeptical of fads? You might have steered clear of Poke restaurants, as it seemed like these were popping up all over the place in the past decade or so (at least in the U.S.). If you've done that, you've been missing out a pretty tasty thing—plus the restaurants are like frozen yogurt shops for your main course!
You can make yourself a poke bowl at home. Yes, you'll have to apply some heat to your rice to cook it, and you might choose to sear your protein (such as tuna or salmon), but these are a cold-first dish that make for a delicious summertime meal.
Need a recipe? Try my spicy tuna poke bowl.
6. Overnight Oats
Having these in the fridge as a go-to breakfast pick-me-up is a WONDER in the summer. I can prep several at a time and know that I'll be able to find what I need. If you tend to avoid overnight oats because you don't like oatmeal, I promise you can find a recipe that'll be a winner for you.
I've collected several of my favorite overnight oats recipes, but I feel like I am always trying to branch out.
These cookies and cream overnight oats are my all-time favorite oats recipe (there's actual Oreo cookies in it!!)
Here's a roundup of 10+ healthy oats recipes to try!
7. No-bake snacks
While you're keeping the oven off, you might want to make something that isn't a whole feast. Sometimes you need something a bit lighter, and there are some serious winners in the no-bake snacks department.
Here's a few of my favorites!
The oreo chocolate bowl is a great dessert option that feels refreshing. You can keep your fridge (or even freezer) loaded with some of these snacks that you've prepared ahead of time, so you can always grab-n'-go (or grab-n'-relax) when you need to.
S'mores without fire? Honestly, you might not even miss it—or at least you won't miss smelling like smoke for the next few days.
You need a reason to eat some cookies? How about getting some protein while you're doing it? I'd say that's reason enough to try out these monster cookie protein bars, which are delicious out of the fridge or freezer.
While we're getting some extra protein, why not whip up a batch of rice krispie treats?
Check out what one review said about these coconut chocolate chip bliss bars: "I even made them for a dessert party and out of 20 desserts there- these were the crowd favorite and I was the only one to come home with an empty plate!"
Don't come home with left over dessert. Make these bars.
Want more recipes?
Whether you want more no-cook meal ideas (or some good old-fashioned meal ideas), you can check out what I've got at Jordo's World!