7 Simple Ways to Be Happier in the Kitchen This Summer

published Jun 12, 2019
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The realization that summer is right around the corner hit me the other day, when I decided to make chicken Parm in my windowless galley kitchen with temps hovering just under 80 degrees. There I was, pan-frying chicken cutlets next to a giant pot of boiling pasta water, cranking the oven up to 450 degrees.

Once we were ready to dig in, I was on the receiving end of a steam-blasted chicken Parm facial. Even the ice cream we had for dessert turned into cookie dough soup before every last bit was scraped up. As delicious as the whole meal was, I forgot how miserable I can get in the kitchen during the summer months. It’s not just a heat issue, either — sometimes I resent being in the kitchen instead of being outside!

But not this summer! Here are the things I’m going to be doing in order to be happier in the kitchen. Try them along with me?

1. Get more plants.

Bring the outside in! Potted plants brighten the room and supposedly create more oxygen. (That might be a myth, but I’m down for the placebo effect too.) Oh, and while you’re at it, here’s how to stop killing all of those house plants you’ve acquired on our behalf.

2. Lay off the oven.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: Under no circumstances should you be roasting chickens or broiling casseroles for any extended amount of time during the summer. Every time you open the door, a heat wave will consume you and your kitchen. Summer is your chance to really lean into your countertop appliances like the Instant Pot and your slow cooker for easy, breezy meals. Blender soups work great, too!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Embrace the snack smorgasbord.

Instead of spending time making dinner, assemble a giant snack board. I’m talking crudités, cured meats, cheese, olives, hummus, dips, chips — the works. Add a chilled glass of vino and you’ve got a meal that I want to eat every single night. Just try to be unhappy while noshing on these treats. It’s not possible.

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

4. Practice power hour-ing.

Condense the bulk of your weekly cooking time into an intense power hour session that you can strategically plan when the forecast calls for afternoon rain. (So you’re not missing any fun outside time!) During a super-focused power hour, you can cook everything you need for a week of eats — minimal assembly required. New to meal prep? We’ve got you covered on that front.

5. Leave the lights off.

Don’t forget about the oldest trick in the book: Kill the lights. I remember when my teachers, desperate for some reprieve toward the end of the school year, would leave their classrooms dark and roll in the giant TV because it was too darn hot. That always felt like a fun treat! Try the same method in your kitchen this summer and bask in any natural sunlight your kitchen gets.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

6. Take on the 10-minute tidy.

If you get in the habit of the well-executed 10-minute tidy, you won’t need to spend all day in the kitchen cleaning. Clean up spills as they happen, unload the dishwasher and drying rack, put ingredients back in the pantry, sweep the floor, and you’re done. Don’t worry about scrubbing that oven door right now.

7. Keep the air flowing.

Open the windows. Every single one of them. And invest in a fan to get more air circulating. A breeze can do wonders for your spirit! Here are our favorite picks for small spaces and beyond.

What do you do to be happier in the kitchen?