Wellness Matters

6 Tips for Healthy Summertime Cooking

June 24, 2016

During the dog days of summer, the last thing anyone wants to do is spend time in a sweltering kitchen making hot food. Besides, when you factor in summer cookouts and grab-and-go meals from the grocery store, the spike in your summer food bill can rival the spike in the thermometer. How do you keep from breaking the bank?

Creative meal strategies are the answer. Here are six tips for meal planning that will make your at-home dining easier, healthier and more affordable this summer:
  1. Check out your local grocery store’s food specials for the week, either through their sale paper at the front door of the store or on their website. Take 10-15 minutes once a week and try to plan your weekly menu around what is on sale. More than likely you will be inspired by the interesting foods that are on special. This is a good year-round strategy.
  2. Visit one of our local farmers markets in our area, not the least of which is the massive Robert G. Shaws Piedmont Triad Farmers Market in Colfax just off of Interstate 40. An early morning weekend visit to a farmers market can yield a relaxed, not–too-crowded shopping experience where you can chat with the folks who grow the food you are buying. Because there is no shipping and marketing cost, the food is typically 25 percent cheaper. And because it is from the field direct to you, the food can be fresher than at your local grocery store.
  3. When you grill, do so for several meals. Making barbecue chicken breasts for dinner? Cook a few extra breasts so you can slice up what you don’t use tonight for grilled chicken salads tomorrow and wraps the the following day.
  4. Make a foil packet meal on the grill. It’s a great way to increase vegetable intake. Dice fresh carrots, mushrooms, squash and zucchini. Season them with olive oil, fresh ground pepper and rosemary. Wrap them up in foil and toss them on the grill for 15 minutes, turning every so often. By the time your meat is done, you will have a great side dish with no heat in the kitchen.
  5. Use your microwave and crock pot. These appliances cook well and give off very little external heat, keeping the kitchen cool. There are great recipes available for many different types of healthy meals using these cooking alternatives.
  6. Make cool meals. Consider making a meal of pasta or quinoa salad, salad greens with some protein such as cheese, beans or egg, or deli-style sandwiches that would make Dagwood proud! How about some fresh fruit on the side? Cut your melons as soon as they are purchased to keep in the fridge for a healthy, cool snack. Slice oranges, lemons or lime and put them into water in a large pitcher and let them infuse for a refreshing, healthy drink.
Cooking in the summer can undoubtedly be a hot chore. However, with a little planning and preparation, summertime meals can be a breeze.


About the Author

Debbie Underwood, RD, LDN, CNSC
Clinical Nutrition Manager

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