It's hard to get up the willpower to walk into the kitchen on a hot summer day. Just preheating an oven can feel like you're upping the temperature in the house by 10 degrees. You probably can't go out to eat at an air conditioned restaurant seven nights a week, but you use a few different cooking methods to keep the heat in your house down and still fill yourself with tasty grub.
The key to surviving a hot kitchen is simple: spend the least amount of time in the kitchen as possible, and don't use the oven unless you have to. Here's a few suggestions.
The Easy Way: No-Cook Food
The most obvious way to keep the temperature in your house down is to simply not use any appliances. It sounds obvious, but it's easy to forget in the midst of a heat wave.
- Just don't cook: All of us here at Lifehacker are split on cooking. Some of us love it. Others do it only out out of necessity. Still, if you want to eat healthy and don't want to cook, we've done our best to compile some easy no-cook foods, including everything ranging from smoothies to sandwiches.
- Make up some cold soups: The New York Times has a great collection of simple to make cold soups. Most of them don't require any cooking and can be whisked up or chopped down in less than a few minutes. Photo by Alpha.
A Good Backup: Low Effort, Low-Heat Appliance Cooking
Not cooking food all summer long is bound to get boring, but thankfully appliances like rice cookers, microwaves, and crockpots exist. These low effort appliances mean you spend less time in the kitchen and more time in front of the air conditioner.
- Master the art of low-effort cooking: We've covered the basics of cooking with rice cookers and microwaves here. They're great ways to make a nice hot meal without making your house incredibly hot. One hidden gem for summertime cooking is at the bottom of the post about one-pot meals. Running all your stove top burners on a 100 degree day is hardly an option, but one burner isn't so bad. The microwave gets a bad rap, but it's great for potatoes and if you know how to heat up food with a filling right a microwave works just fine.
- Use that crockpot: Crock pots are associated with winter foods, but that doesn't mean you can't use them in the summer as well. You can even use a crock pot to make chicken tacos. If tacos aren't your thing, Food has put together a list of great summer crockpot recipes. Photo by Alex Shultz.
The True Summer Way: Take It Outside to the Grill
If you really want to cook up a hot dish but can't handle the heat of the kitchen your best option is to just leave the kitchen and hit up the barbecue for some outdoor cooking. Here's what you need to know.
- Everything you need to know about grilling: We've covered pretty much everything you need to know about grilling up the perfect meal. It's not just about cooking. It's also about cleaning your grill and using the right ingredients.
- Know where to put your food on the grill: Knowing how to grill is just the first step. The second is knowing the best place to put all that food so you cook it perfectly every time.
- Seriously, just grill everything: If you really can't handle the kitchen this summer the New York Times' guide to 101 things you can cook on your grill should give you plenty of options. The best part is they're quick and easy to make too.
We've covered plenty of grilling tips in the past, so rest assured you won't have a problem staying away from the kitchen this summer.
Cooking is a personal thing so while we've laid out some of the foundations for getting out of the smoldering hot kitchen we haven't given you a lot of the particulars. With that in mind, we'd love to hear your favorite summertime cooking tips and recipes for when it's too hot to stay in the kitchen.