by Texas Homesteader ~
I’m sharing a few tricks to summer cooking without adding extra heat & humidity to our home. I’ve included cooler food choices, better slow cooker methods, outdoor grilling ideas, solar cooking options and MORE!
(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)
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 our home more comfortable and our utility bills low I’ve learned a few tricks to summer suppertime meals.
I’m cooking without adding unnecessary strain to our AC system (or our budget) during the summer heat.
Focus On Cooler Foods When It’s HOT Outside
The most effective way to keep cooking heat out of your house is to not to cook at all.
Try to serve cool foods when those hot summer days hit. They’ll eliminate that cooking heat all together and help your body stay cool too.
Cold Food Options For HOT Days:
Some fast & easy examples of cold food for hot summer days are:
Cold sides such as pickled okra, cottage cheese, boiled eggs, etc.
Cold Leftover Meatloaf Sandwiches or Cold Fried Chicken.
Homemade Smoked Ham Salad or Egg Salad on crisp lettuce leaves
Hearty Cold Garden Salad with veggie goodness, chopped meats, boiled eggs and healthy homemade dressing
Batch Cooking – Cook Lots At One Time
We enjoy a delicious meatloaf dinner that night. Then I section off leftover meatloaf in meal-sized servings, label and freeze.
That way when we’re in the mood for meatloaf again I don’t have to cook it. I just pull one of my pre-cooked 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 I need.
Not only has a home-cooked supper arrived to the table in record time, but precious little additional heat has been added to our home because the entrée had already been cooked.
That’s a budget saver in two different ways!
Summer Cooking: Use Slow-Cooker 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 near as much heat as an oven, I still don’t want to add unnecessary heat inside when it’s so hot. And that slow cooker will be producing heat for several hours as it cooks slowly.
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 an outside table and plug it in.
Voila – no extra heat in the house!
I also use this outside table when using other small appliances:
*Toaster Oven. For small dishes like individual chicken pot pies,
*Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker. For roasts, pasta, etc.
* Rotisserie Oven. For rotisseries chicken, grilled fish or vegetables.
Any heat they produce in cooking is left outside where it belongs!
How To Brew Tea For Free Using Solar Energy
How about using free solar energy to make sun tea? All you need is a teabag and water 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 for my sun tea.
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.
Making our tea with the sun means 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 the tea to get hot enough to kill the bacteria in water. I’ve read that it must be boiled 3-5 minutes in order to be safe, then refrigerated immediately until consumed.
So as I typically do when I have such a question, 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 is in the 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.
Free Solar Energy To Cook Food Outside
My biggest save when cooking outside is by using my solar oven. I actually cook outside using just the free energy from the sun.
OMGosh y’all, I have the Sun Oven brand of solar oven & I LOVE it!
I’ve cooked lots of things in my solar oven, including:
So if you have a solar oven, summertime is a great time to put it to good use! If you don’t have one of your own yet, you can *Find Solar Ovens Here.
Cook On BBQ Grill To Keep Your Kitchen Cool
Grilling outside is always a good option for keeping cooking heat out of the house.
Go ahead and combine your outdoor grilling with the cook-once-eat-twice cooking and fill that grill surface up!
After supper just section off cooled meal-sized servings, label and freeze.
Hopefully I’ve gotten your mental gears turning. These are all easy ideas to incorporate in almost any household.
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
- Solar ‘Boiled’ Eggs Cooked In The Carton
- Chunky Apple Cinnamon Bread
Baked Potatoes In A Solar Oven
- Effortless Homemade Marinara Sauce
- Homemade Bread
Solar Cooking Articles
Other Frugal Tips
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- Build Financial Security With Less Effort
- Simplify Your Estate – Document These Numbers NOW!
- Thriving Financially Without A Corporate Paycheck
- Easy Ways To Earn Money Fast In An Emergency
- Is Food Past The Expiration Date Safe To Eat?
- Things I No Longer Buy At The Store To Save Money
- Top 10 Self Sufficiency Posts
- 12 Easy Tips To Save Money On Groceries
- Easiest Self-Sufficiency Steps To Take NOW
- Repurposing Empty Coffee Canisters
…and many MORE!
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