by Texas Homesteader
*contains affiliate link
Living in the hot and humid environment of Texas, keeping our home cool in the summertime is an expensive endeavor. The AC really really has to work overtime!
To keep the house more comfortable and to keep our utility bills low I’ve learned a few tricks to suppertime meals without adding unnecessary strain to our AC system (or our budget) during the summer heat.
(Note: Some links in this post are for further information from earlier posts I’ve written. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click them and buy something (almost anything, not just the item noted) I could receive a tiny commission. But the price you pay will NOT change. It’s an easy way to support this blog without anything coming out of your pocket. So click often! Thank you!)
Focus On Cooler Foods
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this tip first. The most effective way to keep heat out of your house is not to cook at all. Focus on cooler meals. They’ll eliminate that cooking heat all together and help your body stay cool too.
I like to serve a large cold garden salad when it heats up outside. I’ll make it hearty though, chopping cooked chicken, adding chopped boiled eggs, and of course all the veggie goodness too.
I have a very healthy Creamy Salad Dressing that I can whip up in only 1 minute to top it all off. It’s delicious, it’s healthy and it’s filling. And no heat required.
Fill The Oven ALL The Way
You’ll enjoy your meatloaf for dinner that night. Then when the remaining meatloaves are cool simply section them off in meal-sized servings, label and freeze.
That way when you’re in the mood for meatloaf again you don’t have to cook it. Just pull one of your meal-sized servings out of the freezer and place it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.
When it’s time for supper a quick heat in the microwave & a couple of added side dishes are all you need.
Not only has a home-cooked supper arrived at the table in record time, but precious little additional heat has been added to your home. That’s a budget saver in two different ways!
Slow-Cooker Heat Outside
Another idea is to actually cook outside. I really love using my slow cooker to slowly cook my main dishes like Slow Cooker Spicy Sticky Chicken to savory perfection.
Even though a slow cooker doesn’t put out as much heat as an oven, I still don’t want to add unnecessary heat inside when it’s so hot.
Easy fix: I fill my slow cooker with all the ingredients needed for my recipe and take it out to my back porch. Then I set it on my outside table and plug it in.
Voila – no extra heat in the house!
I also use this outside table when using my toaster oven for smaller dishes like individual chicken pot pies and when using my * Rotisserie Oven for grilled veggies, fish or of course rotisserie chicken.
Free Solar Energy
How about using free solar energy to cook? It’s easy to make sun tea with a teabag in a large jar with a lid. You don’t need to buy a special container for your sun tea.
I use this large repurposed picante bottle. The hourglass shape makes it easier to securely carry. And it’s large enough to hold several cups of water.
When the tea is brewed I bring it inside and pour it into my tea pitcher. Then I top off the pitcher with water and I’m done.
There was no purchased energy necessary. And no extra heat in the house either!
Potential Sun Tea Concerns
There are some who have commented that brewing sun tea does not allow it to get hot enough to kill the bacteria in water. It’s said that it must be boiled 3-5 minutes in order to be safe, then refrigerated immediately until consumed.
So as I typically do, I went to the experts – my extension agent.
Apparently according to my extension agent (who is an AWESOME resource) the source of potential problem microbes isn’t the water, it’s the actual tea leaves. She recommends bringing the water to 195 degrees and steeping the tea for 3-5 minutes, then pouring into a pitcher over ice & refrigerating.
Of course you’ll want to use your own judgement about making sun tea. If you have concerns about your individual health, your doctor is always your best source of advice.
For us, sun tea is still king. I continue to make sun tea several times each week, the same as I’ve done for years.
Solar Energy Food Dehydration
You can also use the sun to dehydrate foods. RancherMan built a solar dehydrator for me a couple of years ago. He just used inexpensive materials we already had around the house.
These apple slices were dehydrated without any energy being paid for. Thank you RancherMan – You’re Genius!
Solar Oven Cooking Outside
Then last year I finally made the leap and purchased a * solar oven. So I’ll be able to not only dehydrate things but also actually cook outside using just the energy from the sun.
OMGosh y’all, I LOVE my solar oven! So far I’ve cooked Boneless Pork chops, Baked Potatoes, Homemade Marinara Sauce using fresh garden tomatoes, BBQ Pork for sandwiches & even baked our own Fresh Bread!
You can see all my Solar Cooking Recipes Here.
Use Your BBQ Grill
And of course grilling outside is always a good option for keeping cooking heat out of the house.
Go ahead and combine the grilling with the cook-once-eat-twice cooking. Fill that grill surface up with different kinds of foods.
After supper just section off meal-sized servings, label and freeze. I often have RancherMan grill up boneless pork chops for the freezer along with the chicken and veggies for tonight’s supper.
Hopefully I’ve gotten your mental gears turning. These are all easy ideas to incorporate in almost any household.
Let’s learn from each other. What are some of your favorite ways to keep cooking heat out of the house in the heat of summer?
Links Included In This Post:
- Creamy Salad Dressing
- Efficient Cooking: Cook-Once, Eat Twice
- Comfort Food – Homemade Meatloaf
- Slow-Cooker Whole Chicken Recipe, Sticky Chicken
- Savory Chicken Pot Pie
- *Rotisserie Units
- Brewing Tea Outside – Sun Tea
Baked Breaded Pork Chops
Baked Potatoes In A Solar Oven
- Effortless Homemade Marinara Sauce
- Homemade Bread
Solar Cooking Articles
Other Frugal Tips
- When Financial Times Turn Tough Unexpectedly
- Build Financial Security With Less Effort
- A Financial Hit On The Homestead
- Simplify Your Estate – Document These Numbers NOW!
- Thriving Financially Without A Corporate Paycheck
- Make Your Slow Cooker More Efficient
- Is Food Past The Expiration Date Safe To Eat?
- Make A Cute Gift Box With A Repurposed Greeting Card
- MYO Minty Mouthwash
- Repurposing Empty Coffee Canisters
- Keep That Broccoli Fresh
- Don’t Waste Onion Trimmings
- Cleaner Vegetable Chopping
- Using Frozen Water Bottles In The Kitchen
- Don’t Waste It – Free Vegetable Broth
- Make A Cute Dish Carrier From Old Jeans
- MYO Crispy Taco Shells CHEAP
- Paper Napkins In A Paperless Kitchen
- Use ALL Of Your Spray Cleaner
- Easiest Self-Sufficiency Steps To Take NOW
…and many MORE!
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