What to Cook to Beat the Summer Heat!

Written by UConn Extension Summer Intern Jenna Zydanowicz

We all love summer activities: the sunshine, the beach, sitting outside to catch up with friends, and family picnics. We don’t always love the hot and humid air that can make the thought of cooking a meal in a hot kitchen, or even eating a hot meal, undesirable. However, we do need to stay nourished and hydrated and on those hot days, it can be appealing to have something to eat that feels refreshing, tasty, and cool. It is also nice when you have recipes that avoid using the oven or stove to prevent heating up your house. A few of my favorite summertime fruits and vegetables are watermelon, peaches, strawberries, zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant. Fruits are often enjoyed “as they are”, but an easy way to cook some of the seasonal vegetables is by marinating them in a favorite oil and vinegar dressing, even a mustard dressing, and putting them on the grill.

Meal and snack ideas for when it’s too hot to cook:         aerial view of picnic table with summer meals on it                 


  • Overnight refrigerated oats
  • Yogurt parfait
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Whole grain toast with peanut butter and

sliced strawberries


  • Arugula (or other greens) watermelon feta salad
  • Turkey avocado lettuce tomato sandwich
  • Chicken salad sandwich (add a sprinkle of curry powder!)
  • Cold pasta salad


  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Vegetables with hummus
  • Smoothie bowls (your favorite smoothie topped with granola, fruit, honey, shredded coconut)


  • Taco salads to use leftover cooked ground beef
  • Stir-fry chicken with seasonal veggies (make earlier in the day!)
  • Three bean salad (add chunks of tofu or grilled chicken)
  • Grain bowls (can be made with rice, quinoa, vegetables, beans, proteins that have been chilled in the fridge

A lot of these foods can be prepared ahead of time, and you can just grab them when you are ready to eat. On cooler days, brown ground meat, bake chicken, boil rice or quinoa, and sauté veggies so these items are already cooked and ready to use in your recipes.

Happy Summer Eating!

This material is funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

This institution is an equal opportunity provider