Summer is the best time of year for plenty of things: outdoor barbecues, late sunset views, water sports, weekend getaways and blueberry pie, to name a few. One thing that isn’t so fun during the summer is spending evenings over the stove in a hot kitchen. And, the same Sunday afternoon meal prep that might feel relaxing during the winter tends to feel like a real chore when the weather is nice and you’d much rather be doing anything else.
Even though summer isn’t the ideal time for meal prep, you need plenty of energizing, delicious food to get you through busy weeks bookended by action-packed weekends. Luckily, it’s possible to easily piece together delicious no-cook meals with in-season produce and certain prepared ingredients.
Pack your cart with some (or all!) of these delicious supermarket staples, and you’ll spend all summer eating delicious meals, at home or on the go, without having to turn on the stove or oven.
1. CANNED BEANS
Packed with fiber, protein and healthy carbs, it’s no secret chickpeas, white beans, black beans, lentils and other legumes are super nutritious. They’re also great as a salad mix-in, or even as the base for a heartier salad. If you’d rather eat with your hands, try mashing black beans onto a tortilla before adding other wrap fillings or chickpeas onto bread as a DIY sandwich spread.
2. HEIRLOOM TOMATOES
Tomatoes are available year-round, but the heavy, colorful, misshapen heirlooms that pop up between June and August are sweeter and juicier than any other variety, and they pack a massive umami punch. A pile of chopped heirlooms, fresh mozzarella and basil tossed in tangy vinaigrette is tasty enough to be a meal in itself, and a few thick slices of heirloom can elevate any sandwich around.
3. BERRIES AND STONE FRUITS
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and peaches are all at their best right now, which means all you need to do for a well-rounded breakfast is toss some fruit into a bowl with yogurt, granola (look for varieties with less added sugar) and maybe some nuts or seeds.
4. ALL KINDS OF GREENS
Salads are always great, but the bounty of summer produce and healthy greens available means the possibilities are endless. Buy hearty kale and massage it with olive oil to serve as a base for a hearty salad with tomatoes, Parmesan and some shredded chicken. And, keep more delicate salad greens, like spinach or butter lettuce, on hand for lighter salads filled with things like berries, chickpeas, cooked grains and tangy feta.
5. ZUCCHINI AND YELLOW SQUASH
Spiralized zucchini is known as a lower-carb pasta swap, but it also tastes great raw as the base for salads, especially with a nut butter-based dressing or pesto.
7. ROTISSERIE CHICKEN
It almost goes without saying that rotisserie chicken is the all-star of no-cook meals. They’re inexpensive and super versatile, and a chicken will last up to four days in the fridge. Pro tip: Store the chicken uncut, with skin and bones still attached, and don’t cut the chicken until right before you plan to eat. The meat is less likely to dry out this way.
8. HARD-BOILED EGGS
Head to the egg section of any supermarket refrigerator and you’ll likely find resealable bags of hard-boiled eggs. They’re admittedly not quite as tasty as the kind you’d make at home, especially if you like a more medium-boiled egg, but they’re reliable and don’t require any peeling.
9. DELI MEAT
If your local supermarket has a deli counter, go for sliced-to-order meats instead of the vacuum sealed, pre-sliced stuff. The refrigerator shelf life is a little bit shorter (3–5 days) for the unpackaged stuff, but that’s because it’s not packed with preservatives. It likely has less sodium, too! If you’re looking to cut back on added sugar, avoid anything that’s glazed or honey-roasted.
10. SLICED BREAD AND FRESHLY BAKED BREAD
Here’s the deal: Fresh bread is infinitely more delicious than the packaged, sliced stuff and a crusty baguette or grainy roll can make an ordinary sandwich feel special. The problem is you only have a day or two before it goes stale (at which point you can make croutons, but definitely can’t use it for sandwiches).
To make sure sandwiches are always an option, double up and get a loaf of 100% whole-wheat sliced bread to keep in the fridge. It’ll keep for a week or two, so you’ll have something to fall back on when you don’t have fresh bread at the ready.
Guacamole takes only a few ingredients to make — a basic version has just avocado, red onion, lime juice, salt and maybe some chopped tomato — and doesn’t require any cooking, so you can definitely opt to make your own and store it in the fridge (use plenty of lime juice and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the guac to prevent browning and crusting). But if you’re feeling lazy, there are plenty of tasty, pre-made versions available at the supermarket.
13. CORN ON THE COB
If you think you need to grill corn before you eat it, you’re totally wrong. Cut the kernels off the cob and use the sweet, starchy raw corn as a salad base when you need something more energizing than greens.
14. COOKED QUINOA FROM THE SALD BAR
One of my favorite supermarket hacks is buying single ingredients from the salad bar. Many stores stock cooked quinoa, so you can fill a salad container with however much you think you’ll eat in a week. It’s obviously good in grain bowls, but it also tastes great mixed with chopped peaches and pecans and served over yogurt in the morning (really).