Here Are 6 Weeks’ Worth of Our Laziest Summer Dinners

updated May 28, 2021
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I’m a different cook during the summer months than I am during the rest of the year. With the occasional exception, I have little drive to spend any more time in the kitchen than I have to. Dinners that require lengthy prep, standing at the stove, or my undivided attention are not in the cards right now.

In part it’s because most nights it feels too hot to consider turning on the oven to make anything. But also because I’d rather trade dinner duty for spending every last second I can outdoors, or extra time with a toddler who’s growing up entirely too fast. And then there are the nights I’m running on empty and just don’t have any energy.

Simply put, when summer arrives I become a lazy cook. And it’s more true this summer than ever before. Now is the time I want to lean on the fastest, easiest, lowest-effort recipes possible because dinner has to get made, even when I absolutely don’t feel like cooking. These are the meal plans I’m cooking from all summer.

Credit: From Left to Right: Amelia Rampe, Lauren Volo, Jesse Szewczyk, Faith Durand, Joe Lingeman

1. A Week of Lazy Summer Dinners

Between an herby one-pot pasta, grilled foil packet dinners, and sausage sandwiches, not only are these weeknight dinners easy to pull off with barely any prep, but each one also keeps the dirty dishes to a minimum.

Credit: From Left to Right: Kristin Teig, Jeff Roffman, Lauren Volo, Joe Lingeman

2. 5 Absolutely Easy, No-Heat Summer Dinners

Want to make dinner happen without the oven, stove, grill, or any appliances? This meal plan has you covered. Between black bean and corn burritos, caprese avocado toast, and Mediterranean tuna and white bean salad, these dinners call for nothing more than some chopping, stirring, and assembly.

Get the plan: 5 Absolutely Easy, No-Heat Summer Dinners

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

3. How I Prep a Week of No-Cook Meals in 1 Hour

This week’s meal plan, which sets you up for five days worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, just might make you a meal prep believer. It walks you through just one hour of upfront prep, and rewards you with meals like BBQ chicken bowls, spring rolls, and broccoli and tofu salad that just need some light assembly to get dinner on the table.

Get the plan: How to Turn One Hour of Cooking into a Week Where You Don’t Cook at All

Credit: Jeff Roffman

4. 5 No-Cook Dinners for When It’s Too Hot to Cook

Let this meal plan serve as your reminder that on the hottest days of summer, ice cream cones are a totally acceptable dinner. For the other nights of the week, lean on favorites that keep the oven off, like DIY summer rolls and a Mediterranean-inspired panzanella salad.

Get the plan: 5 No-Cook Dinners for When It’s Too Hot to Cook

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

5. How I Prep a Week of Easy Meals for the Grill in Just 1 Hour

Grilling is often my go-to on the nights I really don’t feel like cooking. For some reason cooking outdoors just feels easier and less effort than any cooking that would happen in the kitchen. Start the week with an hour of meal prep so getting tofu and veggie kebabs, hummus bowls, and grilled chicken sandwiches is even easier.

Get the plan: How I Prep a Week of Easy Meals for the Grill in Just 1 Hour

Credit: From Left to Right: Joe Lingeman, Shelly Westerhausen, Joe Lingeman

6. A Week of Easy Vegetarian Summer Dinners

If you’re looking to ways to use up the contents of your CSA or farmers market haul, or just want to eat more veggies, and not put a whole lot of effort into dinner, this week of meat-free meals is an easy solution. Enjoy new favorite like grilled gnocchi, Tuscan-inspired stuffed peppers, and chilled rice noodle bowls.

Get the plan: A Week of Easy Vegetarian Summer Dinners