I have purposely kept the list short. It isn't recipes but just ideas to jolt my inspiration. My goal was meal ideas that can be adapted in lots of different ways depending upon what produce is in season and how much time I have available.
Simple Summer Meals - My List
Stir-fry (beef, chicken, pork)
Tortilla (quesadilla, fajita, burrito, enchilada, wraps)
Salad (taco, chicken, minute steak)
Sandwich (pork bbq, sloppy joe, burgers, chicken salad)
Meat/Veggie (grill, crockpot, oven roasted)
This list gives enough variety that I can cycle endlessly through the list all summer long without feeling like we are stuck in a rut. This brief list works for me but here is a more detailed explanation of the list.
This is an all-time favorite at our house. I use whatever meat and vegetable I have on hand. Last week I made a quiche with eggplant, green pepper, tomato, and onion with a sprinkle of bacon. Yum! I use this basic quiche recipe.
I cook a big pot of rice and then stir-fry whatever meat and veggies fall out of the fridge. If I think ahead to marinade the meat (chicken, beef, pork, or even venison) a few hours before, even better. I pour on some stir-fry sauce, or teriyaki sauce, or soy sauce before serving.
I try to keep tortillas in the fridge all summer because of their endless meal options. Here are some ideas.
Quesadillas- Spread refried beans on a tortilla, sprinkle with cooked chicken, veggies (either raw or sauteed) such as pepper, mushrooms, olive or onions, sprinkle on cheese, layer another tortillas. Fry in pan on stove or (for a crowd) do several at a time on a baking sheet in 400 degree oven until slightly toasted.
Burritos - Fill a large tortilla with beans, meat, cheese, veggies, rice, salsa - whatever you wish and wrap up. Sometimes I make these ahead of time, place in a baking dish and heat. Makes a faster meal to serve. Other times I serve all the ingredients hot and allow everyone to make their own.
Enchiladas - Basically the same as the burritos but placed in a baking dish with enchilada sauce poured over them, sprinkled with cheese, and baked.
Fahitas - Small tortillas served with grilled meat and veggies.
Wraps - Tortillas spread with toppings and rolled. Options include chicken salad, taco meat and cheese, chicken/bacon/ranch. Check out this recipe for BLT wraps from a Home Joys reader.
We have pizza at least once a week. I've been known to add everything from broccoli to asparagus to a pizza. Change it up with using bbq sauce, Alfredo sauce, or ranch dressing instead of pizza sauce.
When we have fresh lettuce in the spring and fall, salads are common sights. Along with the lettuce and whatever raw or sauteed vegetables I have on hand, I add grilled chicken, minute steak, taco-seasoned ground beef, cooked ham, or hard-boiled eggs to make a complete meal. Next week I must bake some cornbread so I can make the bacon-tomato-cornbread salad.
I like to cook a large pork roast in my crockpot and make a pork bbq for several meals of sandwiches. This also works well for doing a large beef roast which can be shredded and seasoned for sandwiches. Of course there is grilled meat like sausage, chicken, or hamburgers that make great summer sandwiches. And my family loves sloppy joes.
Sometimes I just want a meat-and-potato meal. I might throw some chicken legs in the crockpot with some veggies. Or place sausage, potatoes, and carrots in a pan in the oven. Or bake chicken with some oven roasted veggies on the side. My seasonal recipe binder comes in handy when I want a vegetable side dish to go along with some kind of meat.
After typing up this list I found that I wrote about this before - six year ago. Check out this summer menu plan from 2010. I must be a slow learner. Or this proves that this general summer menu plan has been a staple for me for many years. I am wondering why I ever have a problem with meal planning.
But ideas are only the first step. I'll share the next step in my next post.