Next Week’s Meal Plan: A Week of Oven-Free Dinners When It’s Too Hot to Cook

updated Jun 11, 2019
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Credit: From Left to Right: Joe Lingeman, Leela Cyd, Joe Lingeman

Welcome to Next Week’s Meal Plan! Meal planning isn’t always easy — especially if you’re just getting started. But I’m a firm believer that it’s the secret to stress-free weeknight dinners. I want to help you find inspiration and ease some of the pain points that come with getting dinner on the table night after night, whether you’re cooking for one or a family of eight. Every week, I’ll be sharing a new meal plan solution specifically customized for you from reader requests, or from a guest contributor.

This week’s meal plan request comes from a reader looking for dinners that don’t require the oven or stove so that her kitchen stays cool on these increasingly hot days. While that might sound restrictive, there are actually a lot of recipes that fit the bill — none of which are salads or cold sandwiches. Consider summer the ideal time to take advantage of your slow cooker, Instant Pot, air fryer, and grill, which all allow you to cook without actually heating up the house.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Just because you’re leaving the stove off doesn’t mean pasta night is out of the question. This fast slow cooker dinner covers all the bases. It starts with a couple of bags of your favorite kind of cheese tortellini and mixes in a bag of spinach for a serving of vegetables.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

The key to nailing this 20-minute meal is layering the ingredients (the rice goes on top), and waiting until the end of cooking to stir it all together. Round out dinner with some chopped avocado and tortilla chips. If you have leftovers, wrap them in flour tortillas for a handheld lunch.

Credit: Leela Cyd

Sure it takes a little longer than the stovetop, but these drop-and-go slow cooker sloppy Joes keep the kitchen totally cool. Grab a pack of buns and toss together a quick slaw to round out dinner.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

The beauty of rice noodles is that they cook by being soaked in hot water — meaning you don’t have to turn on the stovetop. As far as the veggies and herbs go, consider this your chance to clean out the crisper and use up any stragglers.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Wrap up the week by firing up the grill with some sweet and spicy chicken packets. Bring some extra veggies to the table by adding a couple ears of corn, thick-cut sweet potato slices, or broccoli to the grill.


New to meal planning? Start here.