Six Dinners for Your Summer Meal Plan + Prep Ahead Tips

When I think about summer meals, I immediately think about using the grill and figuring out ways to prep dinner so that we can stay later at the pool or wherever we are enjoying that magical evening light. Today I want to share six meals that will make their way into our dinner rotation all summer long.

One quick hack for making summer dinner time a hit is to prep during the afternoon. While my kids are having some downtime after lunch, I pop in my AirPods with a really good audiobook (check out my Summer Reads post for ideas), and get to chopping or mixing the things that will help make dinner come together in a flash. Even just 15 to 20 minutes in the afternoon (or morning!) can make all the difference for meal time. I love being able to come in from whatever we’ve been up to in the late afternoon and easily throw dinner together. 

Grilled Teriyaki Salmon with Asparagus, Caesar Salad & White Rice (recipe below)

This is a classic, beloved meal in our family. My mom made this salmon year around when we were growing up because you can easily bake the salmon in the oven. But summertime calls for salmon on the grill. Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper and throw on the grill as well. I like to serve it with a simple sensation salad and white rice. To make your white rice extra special, replace half the water with coconut milk and add a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil instead of butter when fluffing the rice. Divine!

Prep ahead: Marinate salmon, trim asparagus, cook white rice to rewarm later, make Caesar dressing. 

Salmon marinade: 1/4 cup olive oil, sprinkle of sea salt, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/3 cup orange juice, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/2 tsp black pepper. Mix together and pour over 1.5 lbs salmon in a plastic bag. Let marinate for 20 minutes or up to over night. Grill until flaky and white at the top.

Cajun Turkey Burgers

These Cajun Turkey Burgers are simple and absolutely delicious. You can swap Tony’s for the other seasonings in the recipe and for my kiddos I made mini turkey burgers seasoned with garlic salt. For sides I like to do roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes. My parents introduced me to this method for amazing roasted sweet potatoes: cut in half, cover in olive oil, salt and pepper, roast face down at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Delicious! 

Prep ahead: make burgers and refrigerate until grilling time, cut up broccoli, wash and halve sweet potatoes. 

Happy Hour Dinner

I think we are all familiar with this trend by now, but I have to remind myself that this is a perfectly acceptable dinner! Throw together cheese, crackers, deli meat, fruit, veggies with hummus, chips and salsa, and call it dinner! The best part is this is a dinner you can pack up and bring with you to the pool or splash pad. Oh don’t forget margaritas for the adults and sparkling water with a bit of lemonade for the kiddos. A hit all around!

Grilled Greek Chicken with Zoe’s Style Slaw & Hummus

Grilled chicken is an obvious summer go-to meal. I like to marinate chicken breasts in 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. We also usually throw some sausages on the grill as well, our favorites being the Applegate brand Red Pepper Chicken Sausage. For sides, I love to make the Zoe’s style slaw because it’s simple and packs a punch on flavor. I upgrade my store bought hummus by topping it with olive oil, everything but the bagel seasoning from Trader Joe’s and chickpeas. To pair with that, we love the garlic naan bread, also from Trader Joe’s.

Prep Ahead: marinate chicken (can be done overnight!), make and refrigerate the slaw, prepare and refrigerate the hummus.

Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Sauce 

Fish tacos scream summer to me. We always make them at the beach with fresh caught Mahi-mahi. At home, I like using Cod or Barramundi which I find frozen at Costco. The key here is the sauce, so delicious! I like to pair this with roasted veggies like the yellow squash featured here.

Prep ahead: make avocado-cilantro sauce, mix up the blackening seasoning, chop up ingredients for slaw.

Tim Riggins Salad

I first heard about the Tim Riggins Salad from The Lazy Genius podcast and with its memorable name and concept, it really is the perfect summer salad. Plus it has all the best flavors making it fresh and bright. Use the frozen roasted corn from Trader Joe’s for even more umph. 

Prep ahead: make the dressing, chop the arugula and tomatoes, make and chop the bacon. If you don’t like the idea of fried egg on your salad, you could always boil some and chop them up. Yum!


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