HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Summertime make ahead meals


I hate cooking dinner on Fridays and Saturdays but like to have something available for my husband to eat. During the rest of the year I'll have soup, stew or something that can be heated and served over rice available. But I'm stumped for summertime meals. I thought of quiche, salads and antipasto but beyond that what can I make? My husband prefers that meat or another protein be included and that it not be too unhealthy, e.g. casserole with two cups of cheese.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If worse comes to worst, you can pick up a rotisserie chicken...as a chicken dinner one night, over salad the next.

    I try to keep a couple of bags of frozen shrimp in the fridge...really versatile and cook up quickly on the stovetop (rather than the oven).

    If you have a grill, you can grill sausages, or saute up some sausages, onions, and arugula.

    1. Does he cook?
      We like to keep those frozen chicken tenderloins on hand, they defrost and cook quickly, and are quite versatile.

      1. Do you have a Foreman grill? I have a little one (thrift shop - $3) that I use in situations like you describe. A pasta salad made in advance with lots of chopped veggies, marinate a chicken breast in Dijon vinaigrette, slap it in the Foreman for a few minutes and presto, dinner.

        1. I really like Ina Garten's Roasted Vegetable Orzo. To add some protein, you can easily add some chopped cooked chicken from a rotisserie chicken or grill some up yourself if you'd rather. Shrimp would also work well.


          1. I watch the forecast like a hawk, and when there's a cool evening I make several quarts of soup, even if it's at 2 a.m.
            Into the fridge and freezer it goes, once cooled. This is Better than Bouillon weather, no time to do homemade stock.
            I buy good bread or rolls to accompany it, sometimes toasting with some shredded cheese. Reheat the soup in the microwave, and use the toaster oven for the bread.

            You can also make a large batch of scrambled egg with diced sausage, onion, and peppers. Lay out an assembly line of shredded cheese and tortillas, to make "breakfast burritos" that you will have as lunches and dinners. Roll them up, Saran wrap tightly, and freeze them all in a big container or baggie. To eat one, nuke the frozen, still-wrapped burrito for 60-90 seconds. Leave it wrapped until the temp equalizes a bit.

              1. To deal this this week's heat I made grilled chicken breasts, a big tub of pimento cheese and a big tub of beans. The chicken breasts have topped salads and eaten cold.The pimento cheese has been made into sandwiches and slathered on crackers. And the beans are waiting to be quickly heated in the microwave and wrapped in tortillas. I've mainly eaten yogurt for dinner.

                1. Cold meats are nice for summer. Poach some chicken breasts or cook a roast in the slow cooker, let it cool, slice it, and have it on a salad, or serve with mustard or horseradish.

                  1. Pasta dishes that can be eaten cold or warmed. I have a terrific "salad" that calls for grilled sirloin steak, penne pasta, cooked /chilled green beans and a dressing of 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 Tablespoon dried
                    3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (yes, this much)
                    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
                    1 teaspoon extravirgin olive oil

                    Roll-up sandwiches, using flatbread.

                    Seafood salad that can be scooped onto quatered tomato, served with dinner roll.

                    Chicken salad in half-melon bowl.

                    Microwave "baked" potato, topped with commericial BBQ beef.

                    Sloppy jo / beefburger sandwiches.

                    1. One of my favorite summertime meals, once the tomatoes are ripe is a spicy gazpacho with an egg salad sandwich on the side. Everything can be made ahead of time, and it's great for lunch or dinner.

                      1. Thanks for all of the great suggestions! I'm definitely thinking rotisserie chicken is a good starting point. I hadn't considered pasta salads or pre-made sandwiches. Thank you!

                        No, unfortunately my husband doesn't cook.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: dmjordan

                          Maybe he should learn. Especially if he wants to eat.;)

                          1. re: wyogal

                            His specialties (all of them) are hot dogs and soup (just heating up). Every time that I think that he should do some simple cooking I remember all the "manly" chores he does that I want no part of!

                            1. re: dmjordan

                              hahahaha! I hear ya. I scrub the toilet, and my husband changes the cat box. Every time I think about asking him to clean the bathroom, I remind myself of that!

                        2. Not sure if you are home or not on those nights from the way your post is worded or if you just don't eAt or if you are both eating but I recommend checking Mark Bittman's 101 list of summer 10 minute meals. Minimal cooking and husband can do the clean up.


                          Some are pasta and that can be cooked ahead. Or cook extra of some protein one night to eat on salad. I like the antipasto for dinner route.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: melpy

                            No, I'm home. Just lazy on Friday and Saturday nights, which is quite pitiful since I'm a teacher and I'm off all summer. But I don't mind cooking something earlier in the day.

                            Thanks for that link. I'm sure of the 101 ideas, I'll find a bunch to try!

                          2. Ina's chinese chicken salad is easy to make ahead and serve w/ a green salad or as sandwich:


                            I've also mixed it w/ chinese fresh noodles as a cold dish.

                            This time of year, lean meats work well, quickly grilled: flank steak, chicken breast, pork loin. All quickly seared but not too long or they overcook. Marinate the meat and have him grill. It takes minutes.

                            1. A family in Brittany served this to me one summer. Salad of tuna, corn and fresh tomatoes, tossed in a wine vinaigrette and topped with chiffonaded basil. Melon for dessert. Super simple and keeps for a couple days.

                              1. Make some chicken taco meat filling that can easily be reheated and put into a taco along with fresh toppings. Just throw some chicken, salsa, chili powder and cumin into a crock pot or pressure cooker. You can also throw in some black beans to stretch out the meat and add fiber. It's practically fat free.

                                Some grilled chicken sandwiches on a crusty french bread with pesto, roasted red peppers, cheese and greens will hold up well in the fridge as well.

                                1. I was watching Pioneer Woman, she was making freezer meals, and she had a bag of grilled chicken tenders in the freezer. I thought, duh, that is such a great idea!
                                  Get a bag of frozen chicken tenders, thaw them (I use the microwave), and grill them. Put into zippered plastic freezer bags. Ready for easy, fast meals.