7 Fast and Tasty Summer Meal Ideas for Every Day of the Week

With all the extra hours of sunlight, no school for the kids, and the nice weather that comes with summer, you’d think we’d have more time to prepare our meals.

Vertical image of an outdoor dinner party next to an open grill with assorted food, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

You know what I’m talking about: dreamy, leisurely family dinners on the deck in the warm evening breeze with lots of laughter and good conversation…

But, alas, it’s not always like this.

We still have to crazily rush sometimes to get food on the table!

For many of us, this season means we’ll have an extra busy schedule – with an increase in outdoor activities, sporting events, chauffeuring kids, weekend getaways, and potentially long work days.

Who really wants to spend time in the kitchen, when all you want to do with the limited time you do have available is to spend it relaxing outside?

To get the most out of summer while it’s here, we’ve put together a handy list of 7 healthy and easy meal ideas – a vibrant selection of recipes that you can make for each day of the week.

They can set you up for nearly effortless dinners or easy, breezy, hassle-free lunches.

Vertical image of a family enjoying a barbecue.

All of them are made with nutritious, fresh ingredients, and they can easily be adapted to your own family’s tastes – and with the right strategy, you might be able to sneak even more healthy foods into each recipe.

And best of all, they’re quick! From start to finish, the recipes we compiled here will be ready in an hour or less.

Take advantage of local and seasonal vegetables from your own garden or the farmers market, and use your outdoor grill to enjoy the nice weather and create delicious charred flavors.

You’ll also find some easy dishes on the list where most or all of the ingredients are prepped or cooked together. These usually take less prep and cooking time overall, and there are also fewer dishes to wash up after dining.

Get your week of meals planned out right now, with our help!

1. Chickpea Veggie Burgers

A classic hamburger on the grill is a summer favorite – delicious, easy to make, quick to cook, and versatile with assorted toppings.

The only possible drawback is the red meat…

Horizontal image of a whole veggie burger with sliced fresh tomatoes and lettuce on a white plate.
Photo credit: Kelli McGrane

Chickpea Veggie Burgers – Get the Recipe Now

If you like the taste and convenience of burgers but are trying to cut back on meat consumption, opt for a homemade vegetarian option with this recipe for chickpea veggie burgers – a leaner, healthier version of this classic.

The patty is made with a creative combination of chickpeas, breadcrumbs, sunflower seeds, spinach, and spices, all quickly whizzed together in a food processor.

Choose to sear them in a frying or saute pan, or grill them outside.

And for more ways on how to liven up your burgers, check out this article for some fun ideas.

2. Crab and Mango Stuffed Avocado

There’s nothing better than minimizing kitchen cleanup – and that’s easy to do when you use edible bowls!

For a light and low-carb meal, we’re serving a chilled crab salad stuffed in buttery avocado halves.

Horizontal image of avocado boats filled with a seafood and fruit salad.
Photo Credit: Fanny Slater

Crab and Mango Stuffed Avocado – Get the Recipe Now

We fold together luscious lump crab meat with a sweet and spicy mixture of crunchy bell peppers, juicy mango cubes, and fiery minced jalapeno.

A lime dressing with fresh cilantro and basil brings even more bold and herbaceous flavors to the mix.

3. Grilled Flatbread Pizza

Use your favorite flatbread for these fun and easy pizzas cooked directly on the grill!

Pita bread, naan, pre-cooked pizza crusts, kulcha, farl, focaccia, and many others are suitable for this style of recipe.

Vertical image of grilling pizza.
Photo credit: Fanny Slater

Grilled Flatbread Pizza – Get the Recipe Now

Add whatever sauce, flavorful combinations of ingredients, and seasonings you like – anything that you prefer to eat on top of your favorite pizza crust will all be winners here.

For this particular recipe, we load up on herbaceous pesto, gooey cheese, sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, and chopped chicken.

But do make sure that the flatbread you choose can handle the weight!

An incredibly thin wrap stacked with a Dagwood-esque pile of ingredients is likely to become soggy and collapse, a disappointment no one wants to experience when you are just moments away from eating!

4. Grilled Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce

Fish on the grill? We’ll dive right into that meal!

Healthy and nutrient-packed fish like salmon is an absolute favorite option to grill during the summer. Its flaky flesh absorbs the wonderfully smoky flavors from the time spent cooking on hot grates.

Horizontal image of three salmon fillets on a plate topped with a creamy herb spread next to herbs, silverware, and lemon wedges.
Photo credit: Fanny Slater

Grilled Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce – Get the Recipe Now

And the trio of salmon, lemon, and dill will never get old, especially when you use freshly squeezed citrus juice and dill fronds harvested straight from the garden, or picked from a local market.

We serve the grilled fillets with a creamy dill sauce made by simply whisking together plain Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, dill, and freshly milled salt and pepper.

Make sure you have plenty of extra lemon wedges on hand for serving!

5. Grilled Steak with Feta and Tomato Salsa

Want a fast – yet impressive – dinner you can get on the table in 20 minutes?

Our grilled steak with feta and tomato salsa is the best recipe for a hearty main course that is perfect for a casual family dinner – or a grownup outdoor summer dinner party.

A platter of grilled steak with crumbled feta and tomato salsa, on a gray surface with silverware and two gray-blue cloth napkins.
Photo credit: Meghan Yager

Grilled Steak with Feta and Tomato Salsa – Get the Recipe Now

A finishing topping of tomatoes, feta, oil, and balsamic vinegar provide a tangy, fresh, and slightly creamy mixture that gives the perfectly grilled meat a burst of additional flavor.

We love using a NY strip for this recipe, but choose a cut that you love to eat, and one that you know you’re a master at grilling.

6. Pesto Chicken Pasta with Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

When you don’t want to be weighed down by artery-clogging meat sauces or creamy alfredo sauces, turn to this special dish for a lighter approach to your next pasta night.

Our pesto chicken pasta with fresh asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes is a refreshing mix of seasonal flavors, made with lean poultry.

Vertical image of a white dinner plate with farfelle mixed with vegetables in a green sauce on an outdoor table.
Photo credit: Fanny Slater

Pesto Chicken Pasta with Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes – Get the Recipe Now

We grill both the asparagus and the chicken breasts for a touch of smoky flavor, slice them up, and mix them together with al dente farfalle pasta, sun-dried or oven-dried tomatoes, and bold basil pesto.

Finish the dish with a hefty grating of salty parmesan or pecorino cheese.

7. Skillet Cajun Shrimp

One-dish skillet meals are fast and easy to make, they’re tasty and satisfying, and cleanup is a breeze.

You could cut a lean protein such as chicken or flank steak into cubes or strips, and marinate it for at least 30 minutes to tenderize tougher cuts before cooking.

Horizontal image of a cast iron pan filled with cooked sliced zucchini, red bell peppers, and shrimp.
Photo credit: Fanny Slater

Skillet Cajun Shrimp – Get the Recipe Now

But we like to use a fast-cooking option like shrimp to make a quick dinner packed with flavor and spicy heat, like our skillet Cajun shrimp!

We saute a colorful combo of carrots, zucchini, sweet bell peppers, and green beans with peeled and deveined large shrimp tossed with a homemade Cajun seasoning blend.

And the best part of this dish is the sauce. Deglaze the pan with beer, veggie stock, and Worcestershire sauce to create liquid gold that will make you want to lick the plate.

Serve with thinly sliced jalapeno, pieces of cornbread, electric pressure cooker rice, or quinoa. You’ll want to head to the pool soon after your final bite of this fiery skillet meal!

Your Summer Meals Are Set!

Well, they’re figured out for at least one week of the season!

Horizontal image of an outdoor dinner party, with a man grilling.

These seven easy and nutritious summertime meals are yours to enjoy. They are quick to prep and cook, and you’ll feel good about serving a healthy meal for your family – and keeping that busy summer schedule going with a satisfied stomach!

Let them serve as a great starting point for you to design your own variations throughout all the weeks of summer, based on the availability of ingredients and your taste preferences.

We’re sure you’ll create something new and unique in your own kitchen!

Searching for more summertime dishes and drinks? You’ll love serving these sunny favorites for your next barbecue or outdoor party:

Photos by Kelli McGrane, Fanny Slater, and Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on August 19, 2015 by Lorna Kring. Last updated on July 11, 2023.

About Nikki Cervone

Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

60 thoughts on “7 Fast and Tasty Summer Meal Ideas for Every Day of the Week”

  1. This is a fantastic article and I know it is closing to the end of summer, but this can always be kept until next summer comes around. I especially enjoy the Vegetarian Burrito Bowl! I’m no where near a vegetarian, but this might just convert me. 🙂 Also, I just want to know if there is a way I can replace the dill pickle with something else. I really don’t like dill pickle, or any pickle in general. ~thanks 🙂

    • Well, I would suggest dilled green beans as an alternative, but they probably fall into the ‘pickles in general’ category. So, try dicing up some cucumber or zucchini as a substitute for the dill pickle. And you could add a wee bit of fresh minced dill as well. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. This is a nice change of pace. No one wants to slave away in the kitchen when it’s 80 degrees outside. Then it gets even more hot once you turn the stove on. That is when quick and easy recipes like the one above become a real life saver. That lettuce shell does look interesting though I’ve always thought they were too brittle to be used that way

  3. Yum, I’m bookmarking this for all of the great recipes. I definitely want to try the pork tacos, since pork is my favorite meat and I love tacos, and the flatbread pizzas look fabulous, also. One thing I like about Summer is that meals can be lighter, and include more locally sourced fresh ingredients than the rest of the year, so I plan to take advantage of that with your recipes.

    • Light meals are so much more refreshing in the summer, especially with all the fresh, locally farmed goodies… enjoy the recipes Diane.

  4. Your “Spicy Ground Beef Wraps” had my mouth watering. My little angels would love it! Will take a bit of persuasion to make them eat the more vegetarian ones though; they just love their meat so much, like their father.

    Beautiful photos, I love it! If you were trying to capture the mouth-watering angles of your meals, you definitely succeeded. Will try some of your recipes when I have time to experiment a bit more in my kitchen. Thank you for writing this!

  5. All of these are great ideas. We are in the midst of a heat wave that has lasted a month already, so these can really come in handy. I did just do a flat bread pizza a couple days ago too. All these have lots of flavor, which sometimes can be missing from quick meals. Taste and comfort is just as important in the heat as it is in the cold. Thanks!
    I guess I can add that marinated tofu is a great dish that can be eaten live or fried or baked, and it is delicious and nutritious! Use soy sauce, ginger, garlic and brewer’s yeast for the simple version.

    • You’re so right aphil, tasty has to go with quick. And thanks for the tofu marinade! I’ll give it a try this coming week.

  6. I was recently introduced to quinoa, and I not only enjoy the taste, but the nutritional benefits as well; I’m glad that I finally have the recipe to making it for myself. I’m sure that, without the chicken, it will be a hit among my vegetarian friends. They will obviously appreciate the vegetarian burrito bowl, although I do have a family recipe for that. I believe the only difference is corn. Thank you for all these recipes!

    • Quinoa’s a wonder grain, with great nutrition, taste and texture – love the way those little grains ‘pop’ when chewed! And easy to replace the animal protein in the quinoa bowl… maybe try aphil’s suggestion above for marinated tofu for the vegetarians.

  7. I get so hungry when I come here. You really put some great recipes up I thank you for that. The pictures that accompany them are so mouthwatering. I usually have to hit the kitchen soon after my visit here not that I’m complaining I’m not it’s very inspiring site.

    • I know what you mean kk, I seem to head to the kitchen a lot after I’ve been on Foodal! Glad you enjoy the recipes and find some cooking inspiration when you visit.

  8. Hey! These are fabulous, and I’m always looking for more ideas to help use up the frankly astonishing amount of zucchini we always end up with!

    I was wondering, do you think it would change the texture/taste very much if I used brown rice in the lemon chicken bowl?

    • Brown rice works great in the chicken bowl anders, it just takes a bit longer to cook. Glad you find the ideas useful.

  9. Wow the Spicy Ground Beef Wraps look amazing and healthy too! We are a huge ground beef and taco family so this will be a great way to try and steer the family away from the extra carbs. It looks like we will be making these tonight! So glad that you mentioned butter lettuce, we love it in our family and haven’t found too many recipes including it. Thanks!

    Question, we have a peanut allergy in the family, so what would be a good alternative? We’d like to keep the crunchy texture but not sure with what to substitute it!

    • Ahhh, yes, butter lettuce. Isn’t it wonderful? I love how they usually sell it still attached to the root. I’m a picky about lettuce, and BL seems to have the perfect crisp, velvety texture that is perfect for many things. I love it on burgers.

    • Butter lettuce doesn’t get much recognition, but it’s one of my fav’s too… and a good way to lighten the load of the ground beef.

      For the peanut allergies, try subbing soy nuts or seeds, like pumpkin or sunflower to keep the crunch factor. Or even some of the heartier sprouts, such as bean sprouts, have a nice, crisp texture.

  10. I’ve been needing an article like this. I do a lot of batch cooking these days to save time, but sometimes when I come home from my current office I just do not feel like spending time in the kitchen. It’s made me succumb to the temptation of eating out a bit more often than I’d like. My problem is that I usually default to skillet dishes and I needed to mix it up a bit. These look like absolutely tasty ideas to try out. I always forget about tostadas, and those flatbread pizzas are super tempting as well.

    • Spending time in the kitchen after working all day can be a challenge Leopard, and that’s when the siren’s call to eat out does seem loudest… hope the recipes work for you.

  11. These recipes aren’t just for summer! As a busy student, these recipes will help me a lot during the school year. The prep times and cook times for these recipes seem perfectly attainable for someone on a busy schedule. I’m gonna try some in the near future.
    I especially can’t wait to try the spicy pork tacos and the the grilled flatbread pizza.

    • You’re right Josh, they’re good anytime of the year, and are ideal for anyone with a busy schedule. Hope you enjoy the tacos and pizza!

  12. First time visiting the site, so I want to comment on the great layout and organization.
    I’ve always had one of those inexplicable aversions to lettuce wraps even though I love lettuce. It’s so hard to get myself to change eating habits sometimes.
    I laughed when I read that no one wants to be slaving away in the kitchen during the summer because I thought to myself, “Ha! That’s what the grill is for!”….and then the next sentence under the photo was about grilling. I wish beef wasn’t getting so expensive though. I tend to wait for the marked down stuff now and salt it overnight.

    • Thanks for your kind comments HF. No, changing habits isn’t easy, but one day at a time we get there… glad you enjoyed the post.

  13. Thank you for the tips on lettuce wraps! I never seem to be able to get the “right” lettuce and it turns into a taco salad in fast order. I’ll be sure to save what kind to get and not to fill too much (even if my eyes want all the cheese on top).

    Skillet meals are huge in my house. They’re simple, delicious, and everyone seems to enjoy some part of them, if not all. I haven’t tried prawn yet, but that may have to change! Being on the coast, fish is a big deal here, so I loved all the takes on seafood you give here.

  14. Not filling too much is the key to not having wraps turn into salad Bonbinski, and you eat more lettuce that way too! We’re kindred spirits on the seafood thing, hope you enjoy the recipe for skillet prawns.

  15. Great article. I can tell from personal experience that the Quinoa Bowl is a fantastic dish, I’ve been making it pretty regularly, and not only the taste, but the health benifiets are great. I can’t wait to try some of these other recipes! (Especialy that flatbread pizza). Good job on this article!

    • Thanks for the testimonial spaceboytaylor, tasty, quick and healthy is hard to beat. Glad you enjoyed the post, and hope you like the pizza.

  16. I’ve never been one to wander from the traditional “ground beef” style taco, but most recently I have tried other food items like chicken. Very good stuff! It looks like pork is next on the agenda thanks to the recipe here. And I’m a huge fan of salmon and Pollock burgers, but have never liked tartar sauce; however, my husband loves it. I’m glad the recipe is easy to follow so I’ll give it a try.

    Summer is so busy as mentioned. It’s nice to find ways to make it more simplified so that me and my family can do what we do best – get outside!

    • Traditions are tried and true, and often we don’t even think of stepping outside of the comfort zone… but change is good thing. Like the pork tacos! Hope you enjoy them MB, and the rest of summer.

  17. Those lettuce wraps are to die for. They look easy to make in no time at all. I will certainly try that out in a few days. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Love this article! I am always trying to find new recipes (especially in the summer months when the kids are home all day and pestering me about food nonstop).

    My husband is generally a non-veggie eater, but wants to start eating healthier. He is hoping to do Ranger school within the next year and wants to be in better shape before going. I don’t know if changing his diet will help with the challenges of Ranger school, but whatever makes him feel ready!

    I think the lettuce wraps are something that he would definitely eat and enjoy. We actually had a version of this once made with turkey burger. My brother in law made it for us when he was visiting over the holidays a couple years ago and they were delicious.

    Admittedly, my brother in law knows his way around my kitchen almost as well as I do since every time he visits us he ends up cooking with me, or cooking full meals so I can take care of other holiday preparations.

    I think for the sake of the children I will have to test out the spicy level of the meat, they are very picky about how much seasoning is in their meals! I also loved the idea of cooking flat bread pizzas on the grill. My main desire to try this out is because I have consistently denied the How To Use Our New Grill lesson and as such my husband is the designated Grill Master of the house. This recipe would give me night out of cooking dinner for the masses!

    We have seven children, so there is a lot of other stuff to be done around the house on any given evening. If I can get my hubby to fire up the grill and help with dinner, I will consider that a win (and a delicious win at that!)

    • I like your logic JessyMae, those seven kids must sharpen up your thinking! As you say, adjust the spices to suit so the kids will eat them.

  19. Those lettuce wraps looks amazing! I’m always looking for new ways to eat wraps or sandwiches without all of the carbs that come along with using bread and tortillas. I’m 260 so carbs are really one of the hardest things I have to deal with, especially considering how much I love bread. I’m definitely going to try those wraps. Maybe even try a veggie wrap. I use to eat veggie sandwiches but the bread is just too much.

    • I hear what you’re saying about the bread tpugsly, it’s hard to resist. But lettuce wraps make a pretty good substitute – they seem to satisfy.

  20. My husband is going on a special diet and these sound like some great, healthy alternatives for him. I wish I had come across this post sooner, the summer is almost over, and the weather has already started to cool off where I live so grilling will be harder for us to do. I suppose we can still make these inside, it’s just not quite the same. My husband has never had a burger made with fish, but I know he loves salmon, so I definitely want him to try that! The lettuce wrap is another one that I think he will enjoy, he’s done lettuce wraps before, so I know he will eat that. Good thing he’s not too picky anyways, we both love trying new foods, and these sound so good!

    • I know, it’s sad to see grilling season winding down, but most of the recipes adapt to indoor cooking quite well. I hope you and your husband enjoy the burgers and wraps, and I hope his diet goes well.

  21. Wow , i wonder that i never figure out this kind of food from ealrier , this would be a great reference for my kind of food right now , since it is really healthy and delicious

  22. I’m always looking for new ideas since I cook 6-7 days a week to help maintain our food budget. These not only look delicious but relatively simple too! Several of them will work well for another of my budget tricks – freezing leftovers! I do this in two ways: the first is freezing individual servings to be reheated for lunch or to fill in for nights when making dinner doesn’t happen (the burrito bowl would be perfect for this). The other is freezing part of the meal – in this case the taco meat or lettuce wrap filling could be made in large batches and frozen for later use. Then all you need to do is grab your fresh ingredients, thaw your pre-made portion, and voila – quick, delicious dinner!

  23. I love these ideas, however I need tips on how to get motivated into wanting to eat healthy. I know it’s good for me, but for some reason that’s not good enough. It doesn’t taste as good as the other things I go for. I’ll still keep these penned down for future reference though.

  24. One of the interesting things about motivation is that it often shows up after we begin a new behavior, not before. Simply starting can create a needed momentum change. So, how about trying one new ‘healthy’ dish this week and see if you can build on that harpazo22?

  25. I love this article so much! It’s a smorgasbord of ideas. LOL I love all these recipes, but my favorites are the lettuce wraps, and the Quinoa. I love quinoa, and I’m always eager to find new ways to eat it.

  26. Wonderful recipe ideas! I’m going to try the spicy pork taco with salsa recipe. But instead of pork, I want to substitute prawns, and instead of peaches, I want to use mangoes. I’m also eager to try the cajun prawns. Thanks again!

  27. I love these recipes! I think some of these are easily adapted to autumn or even winter meals. I would love to try the spicy pork tacos and with our very own peach tree, that peach and corn salsa will taste even better. The pizza flatbread looks delicious, I want to make my own sun dried tomatoes. I sometimes make pesto with rocket lettuce instead of the basil, but it does taste quite strong. Quinoa is another thing we try to incorporate more in our diet, thank you for another great way to eat it. Can’t wait for summer!

  28. You’re right valedevento, easily adaptable to pretty much any time of the year, and lucky you to have your own peach tree! There’s nothing like home-grown fruit and veggies for outstanding fresh flavor… Thanks for your comments.

  29. Wow, that chicken pita bread pizza recipe looks amazing, definitely will be on the shopping list this week. The real beauty of many of these recipes is they end up being hand foods, so you can eat them while walking around the garden or just sitting on the porch, which is great for summer months.

    • Exactly Azrile! Easy and convenient for casual outdoor dining – the way summer meals should be! Thanks for your comments.

  30. Well I do not do this much, but I might just print this page out and keep it one hand. I am always glad to find quick and easy recipes to make, and especially when they are geared towards a certain season that we happen to find ourselves in. I have to say that the flatbread pizza might be one that we have to feature two nights a week, but that is okay with me. Thanks for sharing.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.