I'm a Dietitian & Swear By These No-Cook Meals for When It's Too Hot to Cook
Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where assistant nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two, and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.
Dare I say it, but it seems like the dog days of summer are here. As the weather warms, there are several things I look forward to. For example, I love going to the beach, taking a bike ride or a night time walk with friends. One thing I do not love to do in the summer, though, is to turn on my oven or stove. I live in a small apartment without air conditioning, so any additional heat on really hot days makes it pretty unbearable. That said, we all still need nourishing meals even if cooking is out of the question (and I don't exactly have the budget for endless takeout). To help me stay healthy and fueled, these are my favorite no-cook meals for when it's too hot to cook.
Seafood can be notoriously expensive, but there are a few ways to beat the system and save money. Canned tuna is a budget-friendly food that is always in my kitchen. It is a great source of protein, nutrients and omega-3s and helped me make a filling meal in minutes. Tuna salad is one of my no-cook go-to meals because it hits all of the flavors I love. Creamy mayo, savory tuna, crispy greens and tangy herbs all come together for a crave-worthy meal that doesn't require any heat. You can even add beans, like our Tuna, White Bean & Dill Salad for some extra protein and fiber.
Crudite & Dips
Veggies and dip for dinner? Sign me up! I usually add some crackers, bread, fruit or nuts to make a mini platter and make sure my meal fills me up. As long your dip has protein, healthy fat and fiber, there is no reason it can't pair with sliced vegetables for a balanced summery meal. Dips like our Classic Hummus, Easy Black Bean Dip & Avocado-Yogurt Dip are all super filling and ready in 10 minutes or less.
For something zesty and refreshing, I always turn to our No-Cook Black Bean Salad. It is packed with protein, fiber, vitamins and nutrients that will keep you feeling full and satisfied for hours. The tangy vinaigrette and herbs are a great touch to cool you down on a hot day. Plus, the recipe relies on ingredients like canned black beans, frozen corn and shelf-stable produce like onions and garlic that are budget-friendly and long lasting.
Though it is a super popular appetizer option for a crowd, I think of charcuterie as a deconstructed no-cook meal perfectly suitable for lunch or dinner. Add ingredients like cheese, meat, nuts, vegetables, fruit or dried fruit and crackers or a sliced baguette for a balanced meal that requires no cooking and almost no clean up. Including produce, protein and healthy fats will help you feel nourished and satisfied. Pro tip: cut on the board you use to serve. Our recipes like the Mediterranean Appetizer Board and Summer Melon & Cheese Board are totally Instagram-worthy. If you are keeping it plant-based, we even have this Vegan Charcuterie Board for you.
When in doubt, a veggie-packed sandwich or wrap is a great meal that can be thrown together with whatever you have on hand and need to use up. Have leftover hummus or dip from crudite earlier in the week? Or cheese from a charcuterie board? Add some greens and lots of veggies on whole grain bread or a wrap and call it a meal. Mix in a protein (like cheese or meat) and some healthy fat (like hummus or avocado) to round out the vegetables and whole grains. Feel free to get creative with this, but we also have recipes like Veggie & Hummus Sandwich and Whole-Wheat Veggie Wrap if you want more inspiration.