5 Dinner Recipes to Eat Outdoors

Keep the kitchen cool by taking the cooking outside on the grill or for a family picnic in the backyard. This week’s meals include Carne Asada, Seafood Paella, and Lentil Salad with Summer Vegetables. Let’s get cooking!

This month, we welcome back Marta Rivera for more of her meal plans. Marta is a trained chef, mom of twins, Army wife, and a Simply Recipes recipe tester and developer!

Light and lively is the name of the game for this week’s meal plan!

Streamlining the cooking process and cutting down on how much heat I generate in the house is my primary goal during the hot summer months.

Cooking outdoors not only cuts down on the heat inside, but it also gives me a nice change of scenery while working. There’s something primal about cooking over fire (even a propane-fueled fire) that makes me feel very free and light-spirited.

Plan to stop by your fishmonger (or the seafood section) midweek to pick up the ingredients for Friday night’s paella. And don’t forget the wine!

One last thing: Looking for dinner ideas? You’re in the right spot! We just launched our new paid meal plan service. We have delicious meal plans to suit every taste and lifestyle — Healthy Eating, Family Favorites, and Vegetarian just to name a few. These one-week plans are $1.95 and, with them, you get a dessert and weekend prep recipe and a shopping list. They’re beautifully designed and perfect to print and save or simply load and cook right from your computer!

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Grilled Italian Sausage with Peppers, Onions, and Arugula

Think outside of the box when it comes to how you prepare your meals. “Light” meals aren’t bird food! They often look like this: a bed of arugula and the accompanying onions and peppers will cover your veg for this meal. The sausage is a hearty protein and your well-balanced dinner is ready.

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Chicken Salad with celery and bell pepper in a serving bowl

Use Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise to make this salad even lighter! The added fruit element in the salad’s dressing, as well as the chopped apple, lend a sweet note to an otherwise savory dish. Serve it atop a bed of greens – leftover arugula from last night’s meal provides a peppery contrast  – or as a sandwich filling.

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Carne Asada

This delicious steak shouldn’t be confined to tacos! Don’t get me wrong, a good carne asada taco is what a soul needs every once in a while. But, might I suggest something else? Serve tonight’s carne asada over a lightly-dressed jicama slaw or bed of greens. If it’s too much of a break from your norm (or if you’re really pining for tacos) you can always serve the warmed tortillas on the side.

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French Lentil Salad Recipe

I keep this recipe in my back pocket for those meals I didn’t plan in advance. Nothing in this dish is fussy—in fact, it’s about as straightforward as recipes go. Easy-to-prepare lentils don’t require long periods of soaking. The veggies in this dish are those you may already have on hand. For bigger appetites, a few slices of last night’s carne asada will top this salad spectacularly.

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Finished seafood paella from the grill in a skillet ready to serve

I’ve saved the most extravagant meal to celebrate the beginning of the weekend! Don’t subscribe to the myth that paella is too hard or labor-intensive to make. Befriend your fishmonger, and they’ll do most of the work for you—scrubbing and peeling seafood. Purchase your vegetables pre-chopped in the produce section and your workload becomes even lighter. Copious amounts of bread to nosh on and good Spanish wine are all you need to close out this week’s dinners.

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Weekend Baking

Overhead shot of a homemade keylime pie, covered with whipped cream and with a linen beside

I’m pretty sure you can’t get any lighter and livelier than this dessert. Pucker factor aside, its refreshing flavor and ease of prep are on par to close out this week’s meal plan. If you want to streamline the process, use a premade graham cracker crust and prepare it the evening before.

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Marta Rivera

Marta Rivera is trained chef with over 20 years in the culinary field and the blogger behind Sense & Edibility. She graduated from the Baltimore International Culinary College with degrees in Culinary Arts and Classical Pastries. Her cookbook is Taste and See Cooks.

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  1. Jelena

    I hear you about not heating up your house. My grandma had a so-called summer kitchen and I always had to wear a cardi inside, it was so cold. Thanks for the recipes!

  2. MarieD

    Thank you so much for these awesome 5 dinner meal plans. You are clearly a master planner. Love the variety and ideas! Much appreciated! Saludos.