Why I Grocery Shop Less in the Summer (Plus, 5 Other Ways to Avoid Kitchen Heat)

published Jun 24, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Woman shopping for fresh organic groceries in supermarket.
Credit: d3sign / Getty Images

I spent the first 25 years of my life in Texas, which you’d think would make me pretty heat-tolerant, but I’m actually air-conditioning-dependent. I hate feeling hot. So, of course, after fleeing the heat to move to Portland, Oregon, I discovered that my lovely little apartment did not come with central AC. I’ve learned that when it’s hot, the best strategy for surviving it (with my family harmony intact) is to reduce the amount of indoor domestic tasks. 

To stay cool — and sane! — here are six simple ways I avoid making a mess in the kitchen, so I don’t have to clean it during a heat wave.

1. Everyone eats outside, and that iced coffee counts.

I don’t care if it’s 100 degrees — my thermodynamic rage will make it feel hotter inside if I have to clean sticky Popsicle juice off the floor. So no matter what meal it is (or even if it’s just a snack or a drink), you’ll find my husband and kids eating outside on the porch or in the backyard. It gets them outside, and means we all spend less time rage-cleaning inside.

2. Reuse, reuse, reuse.

It’s time to pretend we’re camping, folks. Unless there is butter or oil on that plate, we’re using it all day long. And when it’s time to retire the oft-used hand-drying towel, give the counters a quick wipe-down with it. Not one thing is single-use during a heat wave — we can even call it habit-stacking.

3. Buy a minimal amount of groceries.

More groceries means more shopping, unloading, reorganizing, and lots more cooking. I’m basically buying ice cream, sandwich fixings, kombucha, and nothing else all summer. Trust me — there are plenty of ready-to-eat meals and groceries (wherever you shop) to fit any palette.

4. Prep the day’s meals first thing in the morning. 

Whether you’re taking my advice and sticking to no-cook meals, or indulging in some nice summer salads or barely cook bowls, if all the chopping happens first thing, I only have to clear the kitchen once, after breakfast. It usually isn’t too hot in the morning, and it keeps cleaning to a minimum. 

5. Don’t splash.

Gazpacho bowls may be rinsed in the bottom of the sink, or placed straight into the dishwasher, but I will not, I repeat, not be scrubbing food splatters around the sink in this heat. That’s what the dishwasher is for, after all.

6. I’m allowed one 15-minute reset per day. 

Immediately after breakfast, I direct the fan at myself and do 15 minutes of kitchen tidying. No more. Whatever I get to in those 15 relatively cool minutes is all that will get done. Work any longer and I’ll be hot-mad, and nobody wants that. 

Honestly, the more I think about our heat wave coping strategies, implementing them year-round is starting to look pretty attractive.

How do you minimize mess to avoid cleaning? Let us know in the comments!