Food and Recipes Healthy Living

Fresh and Easy Summer Meal Ideas without Using Your Oven

Here are a few summer meal ideas that are fresh, flavorful and won’t heat up your house by using your oven.

A friend recently asked me for some summer meal ideas because she was in a rut. She said she prefers cooking fall/winter meals but she wanted more refreshing summer fares.

I can totally relate. I love cooking hearty fall meals such as stews and casseroles. I love using winter squash and root vegetables. I love throwing together easy crockpot meals that help to warm out kitchen as well as our family’s bellies.

But I don’t like using the oven or crockpot as often in the summer. I don’t like heating up the house any more than the hot Georgia sun already does. So in the summer, I’m trying my best to use our instant pot, stovetop (one-pot meals) and grill for our meals. Not only does it keep the house a little cooler, but this means meals are typically quicker to prep so that I can spend my time having fun outdoors instead of being stuck inside.

summer meal ideas

We own the 6-quart Cuisinart Instant Pot and have really embraced it over the past couple months. My husband will make batches of meals for himself for lunch and I’ve loved making dinners in the Instant Pot in the summer because I can wait until late afternoon to throw something together.

Summer fare also has an appeal all its own with vibrant colored vegetables and fruits. And many times, even simple recipes have so much flavor thanks to seasonal ingredients. So here are a few ideas for delicious summer meals in case you’re looking to change things up and need some inspiration.

13 Summer Meal Ideas to Get You Out of the Rut

Chicken Tortilla Soup {instant pot}

So good and easy. I threw in a can of diced green chiles and used the juice from 1.5 limes. Just adjust the salt to taste. Top with corn chips, sweet potato chips, avocado, cheese, sour cream, etc. Even my kids ate this.

Chicken Corn Chowder {instant pot}

I found this recipe as I was searching for instant pot recipes. This recipe was great and refreshing thanks to the fresh corn I used. I subbed the heavy cream and flour at the end of the recipe for coconut milk and gluten free flour.

summer meal ideas

Seasonal Shish Kabobs

There are a million variations of shish kabobs. We have been using metal skewers (also great for s’mores!) but have also used bamboo in the past. A couple weeks ago, I was given some homegrown squash and zucchini. As I was wracking my brain for something to make at the last minute for dinner, I settled upon shish kabobs. I marinated the yellow squash, zucchini, red bell pepper, onion and Aidell’s chicken sausage in balsamic, olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper for a while before layering it on skewers. It was so fresh and tasty—and beyond easy.

Buffalo Chicken Soup {instant pot or stovetop}

Has it really been 5.5 years since I posted this recipe? I still love it and it’s a great take on a summer soup. I made it recently in the instant pot but I left out the cauliflower because I didn’t have any on hand. If you can’t handle much heat (like me), cut back on the hot sauce and gradually add more in as your taste prefers.

Beef Gyros {instant pot}

I have yet to try this recipe but it’s on my list for this month simply because it’s something a little different and it’s the perfect way to incorporate fresh summer veggies such as tomatoes and cucumbers.

crockpot carnitas

Pork Carnitas {crockpot or instant pot}

This is a crockpot meal, but it is well worth the 8 hours of cooking time to have a huge batch of carnitas meat. Oftentimes, I double the recipe so I can freeze half. My favorite way to eat the carnitas meat is in soft shell corn tortillas topped with sauteed onions and bell pepper and topped with magic green sauce. I also love eating the meat on top of mega salads and my kids love it by itself. Leftovers are also great in Tamale Pie.

Omelet with seasonal veggies {stovetop}

An omelet with fresh summer veggies is the epitome of an easy summer meal. Simply make a big salad to go along with it and you’ve got a healthy dinner that’s chock full of vegetables.

Philly Cheese Steak Sloppy Joes {stovetop}

Before I had to cut out dairy for the baby’s sake, I was making this recipe at least once a month. It’s an upgrade to typical sloppy joes and all my kids love it. I always use red or orange bell peppers in lieu of green ones, but if you like a stronger pepper flavor go for green. Once I stop nursing, I will also try making it with manchego cheese (from sheep’s milk) so that my dairy-free kid can also eat it.

Chicken Burrito Bowls {stovetop}

This is another easy one-pan dinner that kids are sure to love. It’s also pretty inexpensive to make (except for that pricey organic chicken) because of the rice, beans and corn in it. I have made it once without cheese and I will admit that it’s just not as tasty. So if you’re dairy-free, this may be one to skip unless you can do manchego cheese.

Egg Roll in a Bowl {stovetop}

I have yet to make this recipe, but I’ve earmarked it because it looks simple and tasty and it’s made with ingredients that I always have on hand. Two of my kids are allergic to soy, and in general we are big fans of the estrogenic qualities of soy, so we’ve used coconut aminos for years back when you could barely find it on the shelves. Now, nearly every grocery store carries it, though I still tend to buy coconut aminos in bulk from Amazon.

Salmon Burgers {stovetop}

This is a refreshing meal that my kids love. I substitute Ian’s gluten free breadcrumbs or quick oats for regular breadcrumbs and it works out well. Costco carries wild caught canned salmon at a good price. I make sure I always have some stocked in the pantry so I can make salmon burgers as a last-minute meal.

Fish Tacos {stovetop}

Fish tacos is a classic summer fare. This is one I need to make again soon. We’ve used everything from fresh caught red snapper from the Gulf to frozen wild caught fish from Costco. We love the fish blackened (but not too spicy) and then of course lots of lime and avocado.

mega salad

Mega Salad

My fallback when I don’t have any leftovers for lunch is a mega salad. Because my husband always has hyrdoponic greens growing, for me, it’s as simple as going down to the basement to harvest some stuff for a mega salad. Even if you don’t grow your own greens, summer is a great season for salads because of all the garden fresh toppings such as tomatoes, cucumbers and fruits. To make it a meal, add deli meat and/or boiled eggs for a take on a Cobb salad. To me, any leftover meat is great on salads.

What are your favorite summer meal ideas?

summer meal ideas


I'm a full-time wife and semi-stay-at-home mom to four young kids. Day to day, I help my husband with his small business, but when I have any extra time, you can find me cooking or being active outdoors with my family. We live at the foothills of the North Georgia mountains and are embracing modern homesteading month by month.

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