Many of us go into the school year thinking it’s the busy time of year. But for some reason summer seems even busier in our house. I think it’s because we spend as much time outside (as long as there is daylight) and before I know it, it’s past 6pm and dinner isn’t ready! In an effort to make summer meals healthy and effortless, I’ve found a few short-cuts and healthy foods to prepare ahead of time, or when you have a minute or two, to make summer cooking fast and simple.

First and foremost, head to your local farmer’s market and stock up on in-season fruits and veggies! Use the Produce for Kids Produce Tips guide to see what’s in season now and get recipes you can make with the variety of foods you bring home.

  • Salsa: Make a batch of homemade salsa using fresh or canned ingredients. Salsa can be used for a variety of meals, such as a topper for tacos, fish or chicken, scrambled eggs, enchiladas and more! My favorites include this bright Peach Salsa and Black Bean & Corn Salsa.
  • Salads: Get your family eating more greens by stocking your fridge with a variety of leafy greens and then prepping the lettuce so the greens are salad ready. Our friend Aggie from Aggie’s Kitchen has the step-by-step guide to weekly salad prep you so you can enjoy fresh salad all week long!
  • Main Dishes: I like to plan our dinners around main dishes, like grilled chicken or beef burgers. Burgers go alongside simply sliced fresh fruit and veggies, like watermelon and corn or cucumbers, which you can find in abundance during the summer months. You can make and freeze burger patties ahead of time by preparing the ground meat mixture, forming into patties, and placing them into a single layer freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before grilling the next day!
  • Popsicles: Make homemade popsicles with your kids for an easy grab n’ go afternoon snack! The weather is heating up and popsicles make the perfect treat (with little added sugar if you make them at home!). Here are 24 healthy, fruity popsicles to give you inspiration this summer.
  • Muffins: And lastly, just because it’s warm out doesn’t mean your oven can’t help with a little food prep. Make a batch of homemade muffins to take to the pool, the park or a friend’s house for an afternoon playdate. Not many kiddos can resist a delicious homemade muffin, like these banana bread muffins or easy strawberry banana blender muffins.

Let’s chat: What’s one of your favorite foods to eat all summer long?!