6 No-Cook Dinner Ideas for Lazy Summer Evenings

Jan Scott April 27, 2016
Sandwich Toppings Bar

You know the drill. You arrive home from the beach/pool/splash pad around 3:30pm, feed the kids a snack, pour yourself a cup of cold coffee and take your first real break all day. And as you’€™re sitting down enjoying your much-deserved rest, you finally remember that you forgot to put together a plan for dinner.

Again.

I don’€™t know about you, but my meal planning capabilities seem to disappear along with the school textbooks as soon as summer officially arrives. I’€™m sure it has something to do with the lack of structure and routine in our days, and my devil-may-care daytime attitude tends to spill over into dinner hour, leaving us ‘hangry’ (the feeling of being so hungry you feel angry) and in need of nourishment.

Fortunately, I made peace with the idea of serving no-cook dinners throughout the summer months, and now they’€™ve become such a hit with my family they actually request that we don’€™t eat a ‘proper supper’ once a week. But here’€™s the thing: even though we’€™re not eating a traditional meal, we are avoiding junk food, fast food, and too much take-out, and I feel pretty good about that.

The following suggestions have been tested on my own family time and time again, and while each of us has our favourite no-cook dinner’€”mine is the DIY sandwich bar’€”any of the following options is usually a hit with the whole family.

    1. Make Your Own Sandwich Bar: Set out an assortment of bread, bagels, wraps, peanut butter, honey, jam, cream cheese, cheese, lettuce, meats, pickles (basically, whatever you have on hand) and let everyone make their own sandwiches.
    2. The Cheese and Cracker Platter: Serve hard and soft cheese with a variety of crackers, fresh seasonal fruit and/or veggie sticks, and leftover chicken, turkey, ham, or hard-boiled eggs.
    3. No-Cook Breakfast for Dinner: Offer sun-soaked kids a simple dinner of fruit smoothies and toast, or yogurt and fruit parfaits with granola and dried fruit.
    4. The Snack Station Dinner: A few bowls filled with popular snack options can easily double up as a decent dinner. Goodies like apple slices, grapes, air-popped popcorn, cherry tomatoes/cucumber slices and hummus, and homemade granola bars are popular picks that will please everyone at the table.
    5. The Cold Plate Dinner: Serve cold cuts, sliced cheeses, pickles, fresh baguettes, grapes, and veggie sticks for a family-friendly version of antipasto platter.
    6. Mom’€™s Buffet Special: Assorted leftovers in the fridge that require nothing but a quick reheat in the microwave or toaster oven.

How do you feel about a no-cook dinner? What do you serve when you don’€™t want to turn up the heat?

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