When it's too hot to turn on the oven, and you can't bear to stand in front of a grill, these quick dinner ideas are just what you need. Many of these recipes don't even require you to turn on the oven or stove.
These are the kind of meals that are ideally suited for those nights when the kids have late afternoon swim practice, or you want to take them to the park or for a late afternoon walk, and you don't feel like getting back early to make dinner.
Heck, now that I think of it, these are the perfect quick dinner ideas for any time of the year!
- Microwave Chili Dogs Recipe - You can have this dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes, and there are lots of different ways to vary this dish. Try different types of hot dogs - chicken dogs, angus beef hot dogs, turkey dogs, etc. I personally like uncured nitrate-free hot dogs. And try different types of chili, too. I often use leftover homemade chili, but there are many good canned chilis available, too. Want to "gourmet it up"? Use a sweet-hot mustard. See? This recipe has something for the adults, too.
- Meatball Subs - When the kids have been outside playing all day and they want something hearty for dinner, these meatball subs hit the spot. They start with pre-cooked frozen or refrigerated meatballs, so all you have to do is assemble the subs. For variety, try chicken pesto meatballs, Italian turkey meatballs or Buffalo chicken meatballs.
- Chicken Panini Recipe - If you've got a George Foreman grill or any indoor contact grill, you've got a panini press. And you can make these savory sandwiches.
The first time I made these sandwiches, I brought them to a swim meet. I thought my kids were the only ones who liked pesto, and I thought they'd probably rather buy the pizza or burgers from the concession stand. Instead, their friends hovered over them, mouths watering, and asking if they could take a bite of these sandwiches. The fact that they take less than 15 minutes to prepare makes them even better in my book!
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Recipe - The slow cooker is a summer cook's best friend. It doesn't heat up the kitchen, you can throw the food in early in the day, go to the pool and come back to a piping hot, flavorful meal. This slow cooker pulled pork is sure to become a family favorite.
- Barbecue Chicken Salad Recipe - This salad starts with pre-cooked chicken and bottled barbecue sauce, so you can throw it together in minutes. I normally make this salad with rotisserie chicken, but if you have any kind of leftover cooked chicken, feel free to use that. I like to present this salad like a cobb salad, with the ingredients in piles on top. It makes it easier for the kids to pick and choose what they want to eat. And it looks pretty, too!
- Pesto Pasta Recipe - Who knew three ingredients could taste so good? This recipe is made with prepared pesto (to make it quicker), but it's even better with homemade pesto. Try my basil pesto recipe or my kale pesto.
- Pulled Chicken Recipe - This Crockpot recipe takes only 10 minutes to make. Just toss everything in the slow cooker, and go! No heating up the kitchen, no standing by the stove. If you're in a hurry, this dinner can be ready in just 2-3 hours. If you want it to cook all day while you're out, just set it on low. Dinner doesn't get much easier than this!
- Grilled Salmon Recipe - This is another indoor contact grill recipe. These grills are ideal for getting dinner on the table fast, because they cook the food on both sides, so your food gets done faster. You will be amazed how juicy and flavorful this easy salmon recipe is.
- Grilled Chicken Breasts - This is a basic recipe for grilled chicken breasts with a light Italian flavor. If you're really short on time, you can cut the marinating time to 5 minutes instead of 15. Make this recipe on an indoor contact grill, a grill pan or a regular grill.
- Shrimp and Grits - The slow cooker makes this recipe a breeze to prepare. Remember, since slow cooker shapes and temperatures vary, you may have to play around with the cooking time of this recipe. If the grits aren't cooked through, but the liquid is absorbed, add more liquid and cook longer. Don't be afraid to add the hot sauce to this dish. The spiciness is muted by the long cooking time.
- Mexican Quesadillas - Kids love Mexican food, and these quesadillas couldn't be easier to make. Prepare the recipe as directed, without meat, or add cooked chicken or browned ground beef. I also like to serve these quesadillas as an appetizer or afternoon snack when the kids come home from school or camp.
- Chinese Chicken Salad - This recipe tastes like it came from a restaurant, yet it is so simple to prepare. Use bottled dressing if you're in a rush. If not, try the recipe for the homemade dressing included. The kids will love the sweet-salty flavors of this main dish salad.
- Tortilla Pizzas with Spinach - This recipe is for individual tortilla pizzas, so you can customize the quantity to suit your needs. The kids can even make these pizzas themselves. But the flavors of this recipe will appeal to adults, too. If you enjoy white pizza, you will like these tortilla pizzas. And this recipe is a great way to introduce kids to spinach.