Tips for Summer Meal Planning

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on June 4, 2014

meal planning in the summer

Do you meal plan during the summer months? 

I’m curious what you guys do during the summer, as far as meal planning goes. This summer I’ve decided to do something differently. My schedule this summer is different from previous summers and I’m hoping to spend LOTS of time at the pool in the afternoons with the boys. Last summer we were able to go around lunch time or in the afternoon, as Cuatro was napping twice during the day and we could usually squeeze in a trip midday between naps, or later in the day after his second (or third nap).

Here are a few ideas and tips for your summer meal planning!

1. Set up Theme Nights. This is my plan for this summer…to help me spend less time worrying about dinner and making the meal plan writing just a smidge easier. I’m sure we’ll eat out at the pool about once a week, as the hot dogs are super cheap and I can get a great salad for $5. For about half as much as fast food, we can eat at the pool. Knowing this, I can build that into the meal plan and grocery/restaurant budget. (Note: the popsicles from the pool grill are paid for by the boys from their chore earnings!)

  • Mondays and Tuesdays will be slow cooker days.
  • Wednesdays will be sandwich/panini night.
  • Thursday (or whatever other day) will be hot dogs and salad at the pool grill.
  • Fridays and Saturdays will be grill nights, with one of those being ‘pizza and a movie night.’
  • Sundays will be dinner with family or leftovers.

2. Pantry Clean-out. We did a pre-summer pantry challenge a few weeks ago and it was quite helpful in clearing out much of what we have in the freezer and some ingredients from the pantry. My sister and her family recently moved out of San Antonio, so I ‘inherited’ quite a bit from her freezer and pantry….so we’ll be having another pantry challenge and freezer clean-out very soon!

3. Commit to Simple. Don’t cook. Or at least, don’t cook much. Do fruit smoothies, sandwiches and popcorn. Make up a large chilled pasta salad and serve it two or three times throughout the week. Roll up some wraps with turkey, cheese and avocado. Veggies and dip make for a nice, light but simple weeknight meal.

{Get your Free Printable Meal Plans. Sign up for pre-launch updates for my new meal planning service, 5DollarMealPlan.com.}

I’m curious what your meal plans are for this summer…do tell!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim June 4, 2014 at 10:33 pm

I really like your idea to keep things simple Erin. We are doing a couple sessions of swim lessions for our kids and it happens to fall around supper. I am thinking of doing some crockpot freezer meals and doubling some main dishes so I can pull them out when I need them! We eat a lot of GF suppers since a couple of us are gluten sensitive. I haven’t tried any cold pasta salads with GF pasta. Have you had any experience with that?

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Amy June 5, 2014 at 1:07 am

Yes! I made a Hawaiian Macaroni salad with G/F Barilla noodles and there was no taste difference! It was yummy!
Great post! Thanks!

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Gina June 5, 2014 at 10:30 am

Even though we have 3 weeks of school left, my summer meal plan has already started because we have swim practice from 4-6 every weekday. Everything is make-ahead: either slow cooker, a cold salad, leftovers, etc. I just blogged about it, actually!

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Kelli June 10, 2014 at 11:11 am

Amy – do you have that recipe for the GF Hawaiian macaroni salad? I am GF and would love to try it!

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Jenn June 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm

I have a go-to pasta salad recipe that is easy and we have it all the time with sandwiches, soup, or just by itself. It is pasta (elbows or shells are normally the type I use), chopped up tomatoes, cucmbers, scallions, and whatever veggie I decide to use up, diced cheese, and Ken’s ceaser dressing. I have added leftover ham or chicken from a roast int he past, but often I leave the meat out. It is always a hit at BBQs. I also use the slow cooker a lot in the summer.

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