What do you think of when you picture your perfect summer day? I see myself sitting by a pool reading with a glass of blended whole lemon lemonade in hand; or having a simple picnic outside with my friends in Los Angeles as we watch the sunset. I see ice cream trucks, long walks around too many lakes in Minnesota with my family, and drinking cans of ice-cold beer while staying up late playing board games.
What I don't see is staying inside and cooking all day. I don't see turning on an oven and making my already too-warm apartment even hotter. Don't get me wrong: I love cooking! But there's something about the summer where I crave ease. And this summer I'm leaning into it instead of feeling guilty. That's why Simply Recipes is giving you all of our tips, ideas, and recipes for the best easy summer dinners ever so you can enjoy everything else that the season has to offer. From Trader Joe's shortcuts to a simple (but delicious!) spicy cucumber noodles, we want to help you embrace your inner lazy—because it's actually the smartest option.
— Ariel Knutson, Editorial Director
Here at Simply Recipes, we are constantly looking for dinner inspiration, especially when we've been busy lounging poolside. So, we asked our readers (you!) to inspire us with your go-to easy summer dinner ideas. And you pulled through victoriously! Thank you!
Read the story: 15 Readers Share Their Easiest Summer Dinner Ideas
When Stephanie Ganz needs to get dinner on the table fast, she turns to her favorite grocery shortcuts. "I hit up my arsenal of Trader Joe’s secret weapons, my go-to shortcuts for getting dinner on the table quickly while staying cool." Here are her five favorite picks!
Read the story: My 5 Favorite Trader Joe's Shortcuts for Easy Summer Dinners
"Bagged salads are a convenient option when you’re short on time, but they can be a little lackluster," writes Laurel Randolph. Her solution? Throw in a couple easy ingredients (cheese! nuts!), and suddenly your dinner or lunch feels a lot more exciting—not to mention so easy.
Read the story: How to Upgrade Salads Kits For No-Stress Summer Meals
Annelies Zijderveld interviewed author Kendra Adachi, a champion of embracing what matters and letting go of what doesn't. "Be a genius about what matters. Be lazy about what doesn’t. And don’t judge each other," she says. Learn about how to let go of kitchen perfection.
Read the story: Let Author Kendra Adachi Guide Your Inner Lazy Genius
When writer Sheela Prakash's motivation to cook is low, she turns to hot smoked salmon. "It delivers the texture and satisfaction of cooked salmon without me having to crank up the oven or fire up the grill," she explains. Learn about how she uses it in salads, toast, and even as a quick dinner dip (yes, that's right).
Read the story: Hot Smoked Salmon Is My Secret to Easy, Flavor-Packed Summer Meals
When Stephanie Ganz just can't with turning on the oven, or stove, or any other kind of heat source in the kitchen, she leans on sandwiches. "Something about having sandwiches for dinner just feels different. It feels like breaking the rules, which kids love, and the secret truth of the matter is that moms love it too," she writes.
Read the story: Why Sandwiches Are the Ideal Lazy Summer Dinner for Families
While you might associate your Instant Pot with winter stews and soups, it can be used for so much more than that. "When the temperatures rise, I make all of my grains, beans, steamed veggies, hard-boiled eggs, and more in the device—even a few desserts," writes Laurel Randolph. Don't pack it away for the summer!
Read the story: The Instant Pot Should Be Your Go-To Summertime Gadget