In the summer the last thing I feel like doing is standing over a hot oven and then serving up big cooked dishes. My son loves the heat, but tires easily and doesn’t want to sit down over a big hot meal either. In the summer lighter meals can be easier both for the chef and the diners and keeping the whole family happy is what it’s about. I’ve collated some simple ideas for easy to cook spring and summer meals, ideal for fussy kids as well as the whole family. They’re quick recipe ideas and absolutely delicious.
Simple and Easy Summer Recipes for Kids and Families
Make your own Fajitas
Fry some cubed chicken breast or beef in fajita seasoning until moist and juicy, full of flavour. Put out wraps, cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and iceberg lettuce, all can go straight from the packet (washed if needed) and onto the table. The family can then assemble their own fajitas. For fussy eaters the chicken can always be cooked plain.
Hot dogs are very versatile and a yummy treat. You can either use frankfurters, saveloy sausages, or any sausages, as preferred by your family. Put out the cooked sausages along with hot dog buns, fried onions, gherkins, tomato sauce and mustard. Let them help themselves! Serve with any potato such as some fries and corn on the cob.
Cold Pesto Pasta Salad
Allow pasta to cool, add a spoonful of pesto (red or green), tomatoes, cucumber and serve on a salad if your kids are into that kind of thing (mine isn’t, unfortunately). You can make a massive bowl and it’ll keep for a few days in the fridge no problem. If you want to serve with meat, grilled chicken breast is a very easy accompaniment.
This is a not very subtle take on Ploughman’s Lunch – but served for dinner! Don’t make them a sandwich, let them do it themselves. Lay out some hunky fresh bread and butter, a bowl of branston pickle, big slabs of cheddar cheese, hard boiled eggs, pickled onion and sliced apple. For meat, add ham, gammon or bacon – or really any sliced meat that you know your kids will love. You can also serve it with pork pie, quiche or scotch egg, as well as coleslaw or a side salad.
Cold Cuts Picnic Buffet
A picnic is an inexpensive and fun way of eating. Everything can be served out of a packet! You can eat this on the grass like a real picnic, al fresco on the garden table or in the home. This is something that my grandmother and mother used to do for us a lot in the summer and I absolutely loved it – now so does my son! We have sliced meats, hard boiled eggs, coleslaw, potato salad (or jacket potato or wedges if preferred), sweetcorn or corn on the cob, tinned carrots, sliced peppers, cucumbers and more. My son absolutely loves hummus so we always have that, it really encourages him to eat all his salad items.
Jacket (Baked) Potatoes and Topping
10-15 minutes (depending on size and quantity of potatoes – until you can put a fork in them and they’re soft) in the microwave and then 15 minutes in the oven or air fryer (to crisp up the skins beautifully) is a very simple way of making fluffy, delicious jacket potatoes. That’s baked potatoes for any American readers! Serve with a simple topping (or just with butter and sour cream), with a side salad, corn on the cob or coleslaw.
Toppings my family loves on jacket potatoes:
- Tuna, mayo and onion
- Egg mayo
- Baked Beans
- Grated cheese
- Chicken Tikka
- Chilli Con Carne
- Cauliflower cheese
You can really use whatever you want, perhaps you have leftovers you want to put on top. The good think about jacket potatoes is you can really top with anything.
Loaded Potato Skins
The skin of the potato is absolutely jam packed with nutrition and a good way of encouraging kids to eat potato skins is to load them up. As above, microwave your potatoes until soft and fluffy and then pop them in the oven to crisp up the skin. Then remove them, slice them in half and remove all the inside potato. Fill the skins with any of the above toppings, or a simple and traditional cheese and chopped bacon, then pop back in the oven until the skin is crispy. Delicious!
Don’t throw away the inside of the potato whatever you do, pop that into a bowl, with some sour cream, butter, salt and pepper, mash it and you can keep that for a few days in the fridge, mashed potato ready to serve!
If your kids are anything like mine, having it on a stick makes meals much more popular. It’s really easy to make kebab skewers. You don’t need to fire up the BBQ (although you can), these are easily cooked in the oven. Just pop their favourite meats and vegetables on a stick, brush with honey, bbq sauce or seasonings as preferred and bake. Our favourites are chicken with red peppers, mushrooms and pineapple.
No one wants to be messing around with making dough and rolling out pizza bases when it’s really hot. Tomato puree spread on baguettes with favourite toppings and then popped in the oven are both delicious, easy and very versatile to suit all tastes. Easiest “pizza” in the world!
Simple and Easy Summer Dessert
It’s pretty self explanatory really. Chop up their favourite fruit and serve – the way my grandmother got me to eat fruit was to serve it in tropical juice, so that’s an idea for kids who would rather eat it with some juice and a spoon for a real dessert feel. Of course, for a treat you can serve it with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream.