On a hot summer's day, it's difficult to make a good meal while keeping the kitchen cool. Traditional cooking with the oven or stovetop can generate enough heat to raise the temperature in your kitchen area substantially. However, there are ways to eat well without overloading your air conditioning unit.
Use Countertop Appliances
On hot days, plan meals that involve the use of various countertop appliances, such as microwaves, convection ovens, slow cookers, electric skillets, multi-cookers, toaster ovens, grills, griddles, or sandwich makers. Any of these gadgets can either eliminate or reduce range oven use, which is the main cause of a hot kitchen. This is a great opportunity to get those appliances out and make an old favorite or try something new.
Cook Now, Serve Later
Even on hot summer days, the mornings tend to be cooler than the late afternoons when you might usually prepare dinner. Plan to prepare a meal that can be made ahead of time and then served later. For example, you could make a cold pasta salad in the morning by cooking the pasta on the stove and baking chicken in the oven, and then assembling it and placing it in the refrigerator. At dinner time, you have food ready without having to heat up the kitchen.
Serve a Cold Buffet
A cold buffet spread is very refreshing on hot days and involves very few—if any—cooking appliances. A buffet meal lets your diners pick and choose their favorite selections from an assortment of salads, greens, vegetables, dips, pickles and relishes, assorted cold cuts, and fresh bread or buns.
Keep the heat out by doing all the cooking on an outdoor barbecue, grill, or pizza oven. Grills come in various sizes, as well as fuel types, so you'll easily find one that works for your outdoor space and meets your family's needs. It won't be cool by the grill, but cooking outdoors will keep your kitchen cool.
Plan a Picnic
No balcony or outdoor patio? Turn your family dinner into a picnic or tailgate supper. The whole family will enjoy a meal at a beach, park, or in their favorite country setting. You can even enjoy a picnic in your own backyard. These informal meal settings build great family memories, improve moods, and provide a welcomed cooler environment to enjoy great meals. In fact, asking another family to join you just doubles the fun. Pack up the picnic basket and enjoy your meal outside.
Improve Air Circulation in the Kitchen
A little air movement helps to make a kitchen more comfortable. Buy a table or floor fan and strategically place it to move the air around in the dining or food prep areas. Consider installing a ceiling fan if you struggle with a perpetually warm kitchen. A fan will help you enjoy a more comfy space and keep the cook cool and happy during meal preparation.
Draw the Shades
You'll be surprised at how quickly you can drop the room temperature by 10 degrees or more by closing the window shades and draperies. No window dressings in your kitchen? Take the measurements of your kitchen windows, and find curtains or just pieces of fabric to keep the sun from shining through and heating up the space.