HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Dinner suggestions for a hot day for hungry, outdoor-working husband

My husband works outside here in Chicago (labor intensive) and today it's been 95 and sunny since this morning. In winter for bitter cold days I go to heavy soups and stews to quell his enormous appetitie, but I don't know what to do for really hot days/weeks like we're having now. Any suggestions? He eats the equivalent of what 2 or 3 people would, but is fit as a fiddle as the saying goes.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. For the really hot days where you don't even want to eat warm food - how about potato or pasta salads? Add a protein like tuna or cooked salmon, or salami. I have a "pick 3" salad idea I use frequently in the summer. Corn kernels, canned beans, avocado, tomato, cucumber, cubed cheese, etc - toss together in a bowl, dress with your favorite salad dressing (or just mayo/vinegar).

    1. Steak and cheesy polenta-both cooked on the stove top to not use the oven
      sausage and orichettie (sp?) pasta with broccoli or spinach
      pasta carbonara
      Carmelized salmon with garlic/cilantro potato salad.
      And a cold beer. Good luck.

      1. Well, it also sounds like it would be nice not to heat up the house, since it's so hot outside, so plan around stovetop meal, the crockpot, and meals prepared early in the day before it heats up. With that in mind, great big tacos would be wonderful. You could do a braised meat with chile sauce on the stove and have shredded steak tacos, nice and hearty with add-ons: strips of roasted green chiles (available canned, and in good Mexican markets, at the meat counter.) Salsa, Cotija cheese, chopped onion, nice thick corn tortillas......never better. You could do a side of rice cooked in chicken broth (canned is fine for this as well) with onions and garlic, salt, pepper, and a black bean salad (beans-canned, rinsed, drained), diced fresh tomato, diced fresh avocado, sliced green onions, diced white onions, cilantro and lime dressing w/ some cumin...corn kernels are nice in this, and it can also be a hot, succotash-type dish..Simplify by making taco meat out of lean ground beef.
        If he likes salads, marinated steak salad is good stuff, especially w. crumbled blue cheese on top and a Dijon dressing. Big hunks of garlic bread on the side.
        Do a corned beef in the crockpot, and cool, slice, and use in Reuben sandwiches. Serve w/ potato salad and pickles.
        Good old classic Spaghetti, with meat sauce and meatballs that you brown on the stove and finish cooking in the sauce. Green salad, garlic bread. (you can do the bread stovetop, with a griddle. Just lay the garlic-buttered slices on a preheated pan, and let them brown. I like to mix parmesan cheese into the butter.
        Pan-grilled teriyaki pork chops, stir-fried long beans with garlic and sliced onion, hoisin broccoli, rice.
        Schnitzel, boiled potatoes w/ butter and parsley, salad.

        1. The grill is my best friend in the summer! Classic summer sandwiches for men around here are sausage, with peppers and onions. Can grill the sausage whole or cut it up and bake it in the oven with tomato sauce. Or marinate and grill chicken breast and serve on a nice roll with fresh mozz, and roasted peppers, drizzled with balsamic. Or change it up with some basil and sundried tomatoes? How about homemade po boys? Fried shrimp or oysters on an italian loaf? Serve with giardinera or pasta salad and some chips? Is he a veggie eater? Grilled portobello? Stuffed zucchini? Eggplant parm? Steamers on the grill? Cold fried chicken!

          1. Using the advanced search option of All Years, look for threads on wafflemaker or wafflebaker or waffle iron on this board. There are some inventive suggestions for "grilling" vegetables, sandwiches, and other foods using this appliance, which saves energy and kitchen heat.

            1. Mamachef beat me to the tacos. One of my boyfriend's favorite summer meals are fish tacos, with a cilantro and lime slaw, a spinach salad, and corn soup. Chorizo and eggs is also another easy, and filling, option for tortillas.

              Another one that he's always appreciative of is just a cold pasta salad. His favorite is balsamic vinegar, mayo, celery seed, s&p, pasta, tuna, olives, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, chickpeas, and spinach. Black bean soup with quesadillas are something else that makes a frequent appearance here, as do red beans and rice (served with a good bread), and sausage rolls with peppers and onions. Tonight, I'm making ratatouille: he'll eat his over pasta, with bread.

              Last week's coolness has fled, and we've got a few hot ones to endure this week, Mojave. Good luck!

              1. Macaroni Salad
                (I love this recipe)

                1 cup elbow macaroni (I use ring pasta)
                Salt and pepper
                1/3 cup mayonnaise
                2 T bbq sauce (I use KC Masterpiece)
                2 green onions, sliced thin
                1 tsp. chili powder

                Bring 2 quarts water to boil in pot. Add macaroni and 1/2 tablespoon salt to boiling water and cook until tender. Drain macaroni in colander and rinse with cold water until cool. Drain briefly, so that macaroni is still moist, then transfer to large bowl. Add mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, green onions, and chili powder to bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

                Mediterranean Picnic Sandwich
                Makes 8 servings
                Fig-Olive Filling:
                8 ounces (1 pkg.) Mission or Calimyrna Figs, stems removed
                1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
                1/3 cup pitted and chopped kalamata olives
                1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
                1/3 cup olive oil
                1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil (1 1/2 teaspoons dry basil)
                1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
                2 tablespoons water
                Salt and pepper to taste
                1 round (24 oz.) French or Italian bread, unsliced
                1 pound assorted sliced deli meats and cheeses (turkey, ham, salami, roast beef, and preferred cheese(s)
                Thinly slice figs. Combine with remaining filling ingredients; set aside. Cutting horizontally, remove top third of loaf. Hollow out bottom portion of loaf, leaving a 1-inch shell. Pack filling into bottom of loaf, reserving about 3 tablespoons of liquid. Brush liquid on cut side of top. Layer sliced meats over filling. Replace top of bread loaf. Wrap in airtight plastic bag. Place loaf upside down in refrigerator. Weight with 5-pounds (e.g. bag of sugar) and refrigerate for 3 to 12 hours. To serve, turn up-right and cut into wedges.

                1. Does he have a fridge where he can store his lunch and/or a microwave for reheating? If so, the options are really limitless...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: biondanonima

                    It's not for work, it's for at home, that's how I'm reading the OP. She wants ideas for suppers that satisfy his hunger, but are great for hot days when working outside all day.

                  2. During the summer we eat a lot of grilled meat w/ a huge salad on the side. I like to marinate whole cut up chickens - I found this recipe resposted here and it's a go-to for us now

                    My husband likes a (somewhat) homemade chipotle ranch salad dressing a lot and I make a chopped salad w/ avocado, bacon, corn, etc. and that goes great with the above chicken.

                    We also love sandwiches in the summer. We also do a lot of chicken salad sandwiches. I'll buy a bunch of chicken thighs and toss them on the grill when I'm making something else and make a couple batches throughout the week. I love doing a BBQ Chicken salad w/ a mix of BBQ sauce with a touch of mayo, red onions and cilantro - served on grilled bread of your choice w/ avocado slices. I also make a chicken salad w/ leftovers of the chipotle ranch dressing recipe my husband likes so much on salads. I make tuna sandwiches with loads of sprouts, cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions and avocados sometimes open face on a huge slice of fresh bread (from the Farmer's Market!). Often I'll just put the chicken thigh meat right on the sandwich without turning it into a chicken salad.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: tiffeecanoe

                      I made a huge pasta salad from all the components of a Greek salad (three colors of bell peppers, cucumber, red onion, tomato, feta, Kalamata olives, fresh oregano, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, red wine vinegar and garlic), plus the breasts of a rotisserie chicken, skinned, boned and cut in chunks. I chose a really hearty imported pasta shape (sort of like gemelli, but bigger). I cut the veggies into large chunks to go well with the pasta. I used quite a lot of feta, but it served as the salt in the dish, along with the olives. It was served cold, about an hour out of the refrigerator after many hours in the fridge, allowing the flavors to blend. The final product exceeded my expectations. My husband and I ate it on a very steamy evening, then he took the remaining containers to eat for lunch at work over the next 3 days.

                      For my next cold noodle dinner I'm thinking soba salad with a juilienne of assorted veggies, such as mushrooms, carrots, green onions, red pepper and a shredded meat, such as bbq duck or pork, or even grilled chicken, fish or shrimps. Any steak, lamb, pork leftover from the night before could work well in this salad as well. I'd dress this one lightly with a Japanese-inspired vinaigrette, but possibly would provide a heartier dipping sauce for the protein.

                      The nice thing about the pasta salad is that serving sizes can easily be adjusted to suit all appetites. As well, a huge variety of vegetables can be worked into these meals, not to mention smaller protein portions. If your outdoor worker husband burns many thousands of calories doing hard labor, an extra helping of protein and a drizzle of healthy oil or a sprinkle of nuts or seeds will keep him going.

                      1. re: tiffeecanoe


                        Can you share how you make the chipotle ranch dressing, please? Yummm. That would be ideal for me to mix with chicken for a chicken salad sandwich.

                        1. re: peppermint_sky

                          Sorry for my lateness! I just use the hidden valley mix (in the shaker) and instead of a cup of mayo I do about 1/2 sour cream, 1/2 mayo and the milk or less milk and more sour cream - whatever I'm feeling that day. Then I grab a chipotle in adobo from the freezer or two and put it all in the blender. If you ever purchase Penzey spices, I also like to add Northwoods Fire Seasoning.

                          1. re: peppermint_sky

                            oh, and I tend to add more sour cream than milk if i know I'm also going to make chicken salad with it! I hate low fat mayos and such, so cutting mayo with sour cream is at least a litttttle bit healthier ;)

                          2. re: tiffeecanoe

                            Yes, that Peruvian chicken that tiffeecanoe linked to is fabulous.

                          3. Swiss steak in the crockpot over rice.
                            Pulled pork in the crockpot with potato salad.
                            Oven bbqed pork tenderloin and some sausages with potato salad or yellow rice.
                            Serve plenty of ice tea although he may want beer.

                            1. I agree with the slow cooker ideas.
                              Lots of grain and pasta salads... rice, lentil, quinoa, barley, are just a few that come to mind. They are filling and are great for a summer day.
                              Different potato salads, too, try out some different recipes. Some basic yellow ones, German, Nicoise
                              Cobb salad, chopped up veggies, meats, cheeses.
                              Hot pasta with lighter sauces, veggies, broiled/grilled meat
                              Does he like cold soups? try carrot, pea, gazpacho... each have lots of variations

                              1. We've got that weather starting tomorrow. We are doing a BeerCan Chicken on the grill, with a green salad of some kind, the next day steak on the grill and salad, and the 3rd day the other half of the chicken made into Chicken salad, served taco style in leaves of hearts of Romaine leaves.
                                We don't eat pasta or potatoes, but those salads would be good accompianaments to the first 2 meals. And you could do 2 chickens on the grill the first day if quantity is needed. Good Luck.

                                1. I like the sandwiches idea - there, the possibilities are endless. The slow cooker stuff sounds like the stews that you give him in the winter - that doesn't sound summery to me! But maybe combine the two ideas into a sloppy joe? The bonus to that is that you can incorporate a lot of veggies into it for his health.

                                  If you're okay with using the oven in advance, a stromboli would be really satisfying for him. You can change up the fillings, plus whatever leftovers you have can be snacks or lunches for him.

                                  Last, I have a theory that anyone can be satisfied with a meatball, regardless of what protein you use for them. You could make big batches of chicken or beef meatballs and freeze them, then mix them up each day with different sauces. It works with red sauce all the way to jelly/vinegar mixes.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: katecm

                                    He loooves meatballs you are right there!

                                  2. I used to work outdoors (mail carrier - not so much physical labor but although the trucks look like they'd have good cross-ventilation, they are ovens). When temps were above 90, I could not even bear to think about beef or pork in any form. If I ate it at lunch it seemed to lodge in my gut.
                                    I would eat salads with cheese as the protein, or yogurt and fruit, and sometimes instead of a proper lunch, an ice cream cone. For dinner I would eat fish or cold chicken, potato salad and other salads, grilled cheese. Simply prepared vegetables like steamed or grilled, no sauces. But I didn't need as many calories as the OP's hubby requires.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      cook up a nice tri tip roast (or sirloin) on the bbq and slice really thin for a philly cheese steak sandwich, IMO the ultimate manly sandwich. Pair with a potato salad and green salad. If you don't feel like cooking the roast then just get some really good quality deli stuff and heat up in a fry pan, throw it all under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese (provolone is traditional). I am partial to green peppers, onions and mushrooms for my saute, even though these are not traditional.

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        As far as greygarious says, for a quick healthy cool side, how about steamed green beans in a Dijon shallot vinaigrette? Keep them slightly crunchy, mmm. When it is that hot and I have been outside, I can't take heavy dishes. Add some toasted nuts for crunch and protein.

                                        Found a recipe on epicurious for a salad that looks delicious -- some roasted chicken breast with mango, in a curry yogurt dressing. Recipe calls for the yogurt on side, whereas I will probably whisk right into the dressing.


                                        Also yogurt-marinated chicken in a wrap with cucumbers, olives, feta, Romaine, tomatoes. A few of those for him, in some nice thick lavash bread, with a grain salad on the side.

                                      2. My husband used to work in roofing which is an incredibly heat intensive job. Ater a long day of sweating and toiling, he wanted to come home, shower, and eat. I mean really eat. Cold salads would not do it. He wanted MEAT! Grilled was best for not heating up the kitchen. He was not concerned with eating lighter since he was burning so many calories, but he loves vegetables so I'd grill those too. He definitely ate salads, but only to hold him over until the main course.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: mojoeater

                                          Lol! My husband there. He does roofing on the side, he frames for concrete now. On the tops of hi-rises in all weather. You know exactly what I mean by the appetite! Same thing with salads. He ate a huge one before dinner the other day I guess because I was too slow ha ha. I only worry about how much beef he eats, it's his favorite but he could easily eat 40 grams of sat fat in one sitting....

                                          1. re: Mojave

                                            Can you just get leaner cuts? If he's eating loads of meat (and it sounds like he needs it), can you swap out the plain ground beef for 92/8 ground sirloin, or buy leaner steaks and roasts? The red meat isn't an issue, IMO, if it's high-quality and lean.

                                            1. re: LauraGrace

                                              I only buy lean red meat, I try not to buy below the 96/4 for ground beef except for the times I can't find it then I get the 93. There's a family history of heart attacks and early deaths from them (like in their 40s...)

                                              I'm not a big red meat eater and honestly, don't know what cuts are lean and which aren't lean....maybe an entire thread should be made about that one!

                                            2. re: Mojave

                                              My hubby has come around to also love fish and finds the fattier ones (ie: salmon) more satisfying. So we mix it up with beef, pork, chicken and fish. As long as there's enough satisfying protein, he's happy. If the meat portion is smaller than his liking, he'll cook up a couple eggs to add to the meal.

                                              1. re: mojoeater

                                                Sushi as an app is nice on a hot day.

                                          2. Salad nicoise was my first thought, like wyogal above -- extra tuna/salmon and potatoes for your hard-working man! :)

                                            What about grilled or pressed sandwiches with a cold soup like gazpacho on the side? I also thought of cold roast beef with potato salad and a nice big spinach salad with loads of crunchy veg. Chicken salad with a lot of grapes and pecans would be filling too, maybe on big crusty pumpernickel rolls. Cold grilled meats are fantastic and easy to do several days ahead. If he's a big meat-eater, why not grill a couple of pork tenderloins and a bag of chicken breasts over the weekend, so they'll be ready for you to throw on top of greens or into a sandwich for a filling but cold dinner?

                                            How about a nice icy granita for dessert?

                                            1. THANK YOU for all of the responses. We are in a heat wave here and I can't wait to read through them all. Thanks again, I really appreciate it!

                                              1. Let him cool off with a shower then relax with a cool drink and he will probably be ready to eat anything. To not heat up the house, use the crockpot and the grill. Crockpot: turkey breast, corned beef, barbecued beef or pork.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Querencia

                                                  Sometimes I will drink so much (water, tea, beer) that I fill myself up with liquid but I'm still hungry at the same time. Don't let him fill up with sweet drinks because they'll just make him thirstier.

                                                2. London broil is good served cold. Slice it against the grain, thinly. You could so much with it.

                                                  I love Ina's chinese chicken salad. I vary the vegetables w/ what's available and use combination dark/white meat.


                                                  As a side, try this toasted Israeli couscous w/ roasted vegetables. Again, vary the vegetables, add meat if you want:


                                                  1. One of my favorite, gut-busting, hot day foods is a good old Italian-American antipasto salad. Full of meats, cheeses and pickled veggies, it makes for a nice meal when paired with some dense, crusty bread. Mama's recipe:

                                                    "it's basically hard meats cut chunky, provolone and parmesan cut chunky, black olives sliced and whatever other olives you like (not sliced), sweet roasted red peppers (I like the Napoleon brand), artichoke hearts (little jars, you might want to use a couple - save the juice for the dressing...that's what grandma did), marinated mushrooms and whatever you like as far as things like celery goes and olive oil and the water from the artichoke hearts. Add some fresh chopped basil and oregano and mix. Then, if you're going to serve it in a big pasta bowl, you can line the outer edge with slices of genoa salami and prosciutto. "

                                                    This is one salad that doesn't require a main dish to follow.