Fast, easy, affordable, and healthy meals for warmer weather

Fast, easy, affordable, and healthy? Now that’s a tall order. No one feels like running their oven when the weather gets warmer, and there’s more important things to do than staying inside and cooking, right? So far this spring, we’ve had some warm weather, some cool weather, YEAH–warmer weather again, cool weather…okay, warm weather must be coming again soon! Here’s what we’re craving around here in anticipation of spring and summer…

Chicken salad
I like to make variations like chicken cashew salad or curried chicken salad (add a bit of curry powder almonds, dried cranberries, or grapes if you like). It can be served in a wrap or on a roll, or if you want to go even lighter on crackers or on top of a bed of greens. I found this recipe that uses avocado instead of mayo in chicken salad. May have to try it soon.

Grilled veggies
The chopping can take a bit of time but it’s worth the effort because you end up with several easy meals for the week. Serve in quesadillas one night, over pasta or rice on another night, or on top of flatbreads or pizza dough on another night. Delicious with garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little basil. I also roast them in the oven. But since we’re trying not to run the oven you could saute or stir fry them quickly on the stove top, if you don’t have a grill.

Tomato and cucumber salad
This is an Italian favorite that I grew up with always featured at summer picnics and whenever tomatoes are in peak season. Just slice up cucumbers, tomatoes (remove chunky parts) and add olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, basil, and a bit of oregano. If you like spicy, add a little jalapeno pepper. It goes great with grilled chicken, portabella mushrooms, or burgers.

Pasta salad
The possibilities are endless with pasta salad and there’s no wrong way to do it. Someone made this recipe for me after I had my daughter. It was so good that I ended up making it for my sister-in-law’s wedding shower. It was a big hit there too. Link here.
 
BBQ in the slow cooker
Who says you can’t run the slow cooker in the summer? I think most people associate the slow cooker with colder weather but I’d run the slow cooker any day over my oven on a very warm day. I love BBQ so why not do it in the slow cooker. Chicken thighs or pork shoulder is great in the slow cooker. Shredded BBQ also freezes very well so you can make a big batch with some for now and some for later. Serve over corn bread, on a sandwich, by itself, on a quesadilla, or with some sides like cole slaw or potato salad. When I make homemade BBQ sauce, I use the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe here. When I use a jar, I like Dinosaur BBQ sauce.

Okay, now I’m hungry.

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