Summer Cooking – Keeping Your Cool In The Kitchen

by Tammy Taylor

*contains affiliate link

Living in the hot and humid environment of North Texas, keeping our home cool in the summertime is an expensive endeavor – the AC really really has to work overtime!  In the heat of summer we often opt for cooler summertime menu options but cooking still needs to be done.  To keep the house more comfortable and to keep our utility bills low I’ve learned a few tricks to cooking without adding unnecessary strain to our AC system or our budget during the summer heat.

Summer Cooking - Keep Your COOL In The Kitchen Using These Tips! #TaylorMadeHomestead

First is my go-to method of cooking – cook-once-eat-twice.  This simply means that if you’re going to fire up that oven for, say, meatloaf – go ahead and cook an oven-full of them.  You’ll enjoy your meatloaf for dinner that night and after 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 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 and 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!

Summer Cooking - Keep Your COOL In The Kitchen Using These Tips! #TaylorMadeHomestead

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, 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 * Baby George Rotisserie for grilled veggies, fish or of course rotisserie chicken.

Summer Cooking - Keep Your COOL In The Kitchen Using These Tips! #TaylorMadeHomestead

How about using the sun’s 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 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 in, pour it into my tea pitcher, top off the pitcher with water and I’m done – no purchased energy necessary and no extra heat in the house!

Summer Cooking - Keep Your COOL In The Kitchen Using These Tips! #TaylorMadeHomestead

You can also use the sun to dehydrate foods – RancherMan built a solar dehydrator for me a couple of years ago using inexpensive materials we already had around the house.  These apple slices were dehydrated without any energy being paid for.  Genius!

Summer Cooking - Keep Your COOL In The Kitchen Using These Tips! #TaylorMadeHomestead

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.

sun-oven-coupon-299

So far I’ve cooked Boneless Pork chopsBaked Potatoes, Homemade Marinara Sauce using fresh garden tomatoes, BBQ Pork for sandwiches & even baked our own Fresh Bread! I look forward to expanding my solar cooking experience this year.

Summer Cooking - Keep Your COOL In The Kitchen Using These Tips! #TaylorMadeHomestead

And finally, grilling 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 and fill that grill surface up with different kinds of foods.  After supper just section off meal-sized servings, label and freeze.

Summer Cooking - Keep Your COOL In The Kitchen Using These Tips! #TaylorMadeHomestead

Hopefully I’ve gotten your gears turning, these are 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?

~TMH~

C’mon by & sit a spell!  Come hang out at our ~TMH~ Facebook Page – it’s like sitting in a front porch rocker with a glass of cold iced tea – lots of good folks sharing!  You can also follow along on Pinterest, Twitter or GooglePlus. If you’d like to receive an email each time a new blog post goes live it’s EASY to Subscribe to our blog!

 

 

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85 thoughts on “Summer Cooking – Keeping Your Cool In The Kitchen

  1. Shane

    Excellent article! Thank you so much for joining us at The Homesteaders Hop. How to see you again this week.

    Reply
  2. Melissa @ My Darla Clementine

    These are fantastic ideas! I really love your solar dehydrator! Could you post a tutorial on how to make one sometime?? Thanks for sharing these ideas with us on Simply Natural Saturdays!

    Reply
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  6. Shelle @ PreparednessMama

    This is my first southern summer and I need all the tips I can get! I’ve chosen this post for my feature this week on Front Porch Friday – once again, thanks for stopping by.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Summers in Texas can be hot, hot, HOT (and humid!) so I try to do everything I can to keep that summertime heat outside. So excited about the feature Shelle – THANKS! ~TMR~

      Reply
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  11. Elaine

    I love cooking outside!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday – Link Party!! Hope to see you again this week!! Love having you!! Pinned!!!

    Reply
  12. Jennifer

    I love the cook once, eat twice thing. I do it your way sometimes and other times I cook more of the most time-consuming part of a meal (roasted pepper, baked chicken, etc.) and then use it in two or three meals. Thanks for posting all of your great ideas! Jennifer

    Reply
  13. Erlene

    I’m so loving the idea of cooking once and eating twice. The oven is the one thing that really heats up the house really quickly. Great tips and thanks for sharing on Merry Monday.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Erlene, the Cook-Once-Eat-Twice cooking has been a game changer for us. Not only are we firing up that hot oven only once but since we freeze most of that cooked food for subsequent meals it helps our freezer run more efficiently since a fuller freezer uses less electricity than an empty one. Win/win! ~TMR~

      Reply
  14. Bernadyn @ B is For...

    So many great tips for cooking outside! Usually, just using the grill for us during the summer but I’ll keep the rest in mind to try, thanks!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I find sometimes thinking outside the box just a little can have great results! ~TMR~

      Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Thanks Lucy. They’re all really easy to implement too, it just takes thinking outside the box when it’s time to do your cooking. ~TMR~

      Reply
  15. Melissa French, The More With Less Mom

    I’ve been crockpotting on the porch for years! I also cook later, I’m a night owl anyways so I cook the next day’s dinner after the kids have gone to bed, once it cools off outside. Prep goes faster, too! Hello from Natural Living Monday.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I can see prep going faster once the kids are in bed Melissa – SMART! ~TMR~

      Reply
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  17. Jodee Weiland

    Great ideas! I love making sun tea in the summer. I also cook more and have it for later. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I love sun tea too Jodee, and it’s the only way I make it in the summertime. ~TMR~

      Reply
  18. Kristin

    Great post. I never thought to take my crockpot outside – I use it all throughout the summer. Thanks for sharing on Wildcrafting Wednesdays! I hope you’ll join us again and share more of your awesome posts in the future. http://www.herbanmomma.com

    Reply
  19. Linda @ A La Carte

    Such great ideas for summer cooking. I hate to heat up my kitchen this time of year. Thanks for linking to TTF.

    Reply
  20. Kim Adams Morgan

    Stopping by from Thriving Thursday. I try to use the oven for more than one thing when I cook in the summer months. We usually grill instead. Love the ideas you have here – never heard of the solar oven. Kim

    Reply
  21. Small Footprints

    I love your ideas … especially the cooking outside options (your dehydrator is fabulous). The great thing about your alternatives to the oven and cooking indoors is that they are Eco-friendly as well as “cool”. Brilliant! I found this post via Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Being eco-friendly is very important to me. To be able to do so and save money as well? Bonus! Glad you stopped by. ~TMR~

      Reply
  22. Amber

    I found your blog from Down To Earth. Thanks for the great summer ideas! I have some tea on the back deck now. I don’t know why I didn’t think of the sun for iced-tea before.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Amber, you’re gonna love sun tea – NO extra heat generated in the house to brew your icy-refreshment. I love those picante jars for this, the shape of the bottle lends itself to safer transporting in/out of the house. I have sun tea brewing now as well! ~TMR~

      Reply
  23. Cathy G

    We like to use our cast iron dutch oven over charcoal….especially in the underground oven we built with flashing and river rocks. I have also used my steamer and my crockpot in the garage. I am really interested in the solar oven, I will check I out.

    Reply
  24. Linda @ A La Carte

    Great ideas! I hate to turn the oven on in the summer, so the cooking for more then one meal is a great idea. I also like the idea of taking the crockpot outside! Thanks for more money saving tips for TTF this week! Linda

    Reply
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  28. Lisa Lynn

    Great tips! I try to do several batches of our favorites before the summer heats up and stick them in the freezer, like you do. We also eat a lot of raw veggies and simple meals when it’s hot out. Thanks for sharing this on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you again tomorrow at: http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2013/06/the-homeacre-hop-23.html

    Reply
  29. Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

    I have thought of using my crock pot outdoors, but hadn’t tried it yet. We have only window air in our old house. I think I’m going to give it a try. Thanks for validating this idea! Blessings Laura Harvest Lane Cottage

    Reply
  30. Hannah

    Lots of good ideas! Thanks for sharing at Eco-Kids Tuesday. Hope you stop by again today! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/2013/06/eco-kids-tuesday_11.html

    Reply
  31. Courtney

    I struggle to find “cool” ways to make dinner on hot nights. We turn to our grill A LOT! The crockpot outside is a great idea. My kitchen is small so when the crock pot is on it really warms it up. I’m a new follower 🙂 I would love for you to come visit me 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Courtney, there are many things we incorporate when it gets hot to keep that Texas heat outside where it belongs, but putting the appliances on the back porch really does help on these hot & humid days. We love our solar screens too, I posted about that just yesterday. Today we’re brewing sun tea (as we speak) and we’ll be enjoying pork chops and sauteed veggies that were leftover from the weekend so It’s only a microwave heat-n-eat supper today. (Thankfully – since it promises to be a very busy day for us today!) Thanks for stopping by. ~TMR~

      Reply
  32. Linda @ Linda's Lunacy

    Your post is the featured post at the Making a Home – Homemaking Linky this week Thanks for all the great tips! http://lindaslunacy.com/2013/06/making-a-home-homemaking-linky-68/

    Reply
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  34. Sunny Simple Life

    Love your ideas. We do a lot of the same. We will grill once and eat twice too. I also run the overhead vent when I use the stove in the oven. Helps to draw the heat up and out so it doesn’t heat up my kitchen.

    Reply
  35. Megan

    We’re going to attempt to build a clay oven sometime this year! It will move the heat outside and we’re hoping to draw folks to the farm with some clay oven pizza and fresh bread.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      That’s so cool Megan! And of course others will see what you’re doing and think how much they’d like to do that for themselves as well. Clay oven pizza and bread sound wonderful. ~TMR~

      Reply
  36. Jen Y

    These are all really great ideas. I have a ‘summer kitchen’ on my back porch for this very reason. It’s a bar height table that my husband made out of old decking lumber. I paid my handyman $50 to install outdoor outlets at bar height behind it. I use all the portable kitchen appliances you mentioned plus a lot more. Did you know you can bake bread in a toaster oven and a crockpot? You can cook pasta in a deep fryer – just add water instead of oil. You can steam or boil anything in a deep fryer. I also use an electric skillet to saute or fry food. And of course, my grill is on my back porch for barbecue. It makes a huge difference in the comfort level of my house & it’s very conveniently located right outside my kitchen.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Awesome information Jen Y – I’m hoping for an outdoor kitchen in the near future. Like you said, it really does make a huge difference in the comfort level of the house. Tonight I baked pork chops in my toaster oven on the back porch – temps are supposed to flirt with 100 degrees all week so I’ll be getting creative on keeping the heat OUT! Thanks for your comment. ~TMR~

      Reply
  37. sue

    You have such great ideas, and we are so glad you’re sharing them with us at One Sharendipity Place!! God bless you, sue @ the t2women.com

    Reply
  38. Lori Who Needs A Cape?

    Great idea, I know I hate cooking in a hot summer kitchen!!! We’re hosting our 1st SUPER SUNDAY Linky Party, stop on over & link up: http://whoneedsacape.com/2013/06/super-sunday-party-1/ Lori Whoneedsacape.com Not Your Average Super Moms!

    Reply
  39. Stacey

    These are great ideas and I have to say I never even heard of a solar oven. We take the crockpot outside too….in fact, I thought I might be the only strange one who does that. 🙂 I just don’t like to smell something that long. Thanks for the ideas!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Stacey, I had wanted a solar oven for awhile but just got it last fall. I cooked bread in it over the winter – the temps outside don’t matter because the temps inside got to the required 350 degrees. I can’t wait to cook more with it and dehydrate with it this year. Also I think it’s funny how many times I read on someone’s blog of something they do and I thought “wow, I thought I was the only strange one that does that!” LOL Gotta love it! ~TMR~

      Reply
  40. Gail @ BibleLoveNotes.com

    Summer heat can really get oppressive, and these are great ways to alleviate some of it. I’ve done a few of these things, but never thought about the concept of cook once eat twice. good ideas.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Gail, it’s my go-to method of cooking even in the cooler winter months. I really like that it speeds along a home-cooked meal. ~TMR~

      Reply
  41. 'Becca

    We mainly just avoid recipes that have to be cooked, especially baked or cooked a long time. Gazpacho (mentioned in a comment above) is a favorite, and marinated tofu over salad, and hummus with vegetables to dip. Cooking a lot on a rainy day and then eating leftovers on hot days works, too. We use a George Foreman Grill to cook veggie burgers and other flat, pre-cooked foods. My brother, a home energy auditor, told me it’s very energy efficient because so little heat escapes. It toasts the buns, too! You don’t get that “standing over a hot stove” feeling while using it, and it doesn’t make the kitchen noticeably warmer than the dining room.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Becca, we do more salads and cooler foods as well during the hot/humid months. But my man is a meat-n-potatoes kinda guy so when the heat’s on, we’re often cooking outside! ~TMR~

      Reply
  42. happy momma

    I am all about cooking two or three things at once. Last summer when I would heat up the oven to cook bread, I would cook several other items along with it. It would be like Thanksgiving when the oven is filled with stuff. This year I will be making more english muffins. They are cooked stovetop, or in my case on the electric griddle. I am also going to use my dutch ovens more for cooking outside. I am working up plans for a brick oven for our space out back. I would love a solar oven, I think that having skills like this are important. Being able to think and cook outside the box is a wonderful Idea.

    Reply
  43. Tracy

    I live in Arizona and the heat is no joke here too. We just moved into this house about a year ago and one of my major projects i hope to finish soon is an outdoor kitchen of sorts. I love your food dehydrator and a solar oven in on my wish list as well. Something else I do is bake in the early mornings.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Oh Tracy, an outdoor kitchen is on my wish list as well. I know you can make them as fancy or as utilitarian as you like – I’d like something in between. We’re planning a deck add-on to our back porch and some sort of outdoor kitchen design will be implemented then. It won’t be anything fancy, but it will be nice and so very helpful! ~TMR~

      Reply
  44. Lady of La Mancha

    Here in Spain, raw-vegetable gazpacho is standard summer fare, nearly on a daily basis. I also use my crockpot and portable camping cooktop out on the porch at night (we have dinner around 9pm), and try to do no cooking indoors during the day. I’ve also been contemplating a solar oven – I would love to hear about how it works for you! -Karen (Toledo, Spain)

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      I’ve cooked bread in the oven several times, it worked great. I can’t wait to expand to casseroles and dehydrating which should be a breeze in the solar oven. I’ll be sure to post photos! ~TMR~

      Reply
  45. Kathy G

    I used to make sun tea, then heard that it’s not completely safe; evidently the water may not get hot enough to kill off all the creepies that might be lurking. Now I boil the water or use a iced tea maker I picked up from Freecycle. Better safe than sorry? ~TALU~

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Kathy, I’ve never worried much about that. I have municipal water so I know it’s safe, my jar has been washed, my tea bags are sealed in a paper envelope and our sun tea is usually consumed pretty quickly. We love it! ~TMR~

      Reply
  46. angi

    Great ideas. I need to work on some of these. I can’t wait to hear about your solar oven cooking.

    Reply
  47. MariaElena

    Great tip! We are also in Texas, so i know what you mean! 🙂 I have a new weekly link party which is live now and I would love if you stop by and link up this wonderful post! Hope to see you there! http://mariaelenasdecor.blogspot.com/ Hugs, Maria

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      OOOfff Maria, it really has gotten hot & humid here! Thanks for the link party invite – think I’ll “hop” on over! ~TMR~

      Reply
  48. Al

    Thanks for some awesome tips. I’ve never thought to cook once, eat twice or move my crock pot outside. We have actually sweat our way through four summers without air conditioning and it’s supposed to be installed TOMORROW. I can’t wait!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Ouch Al – I can’t imagine life without an air conditioner! Four years? What a trooper! Air conditioning or not, these tips will still keep that hot air outside where it belongs. LOL ~TMR~

      Reply
  49. Bruce

    We use a couple of your suggestions here in Connecticut. I grill mo about 6 months out of the year and we make sun tea here as well. I like the idea of the solar cooking too. Thanks for sharing Tammy.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Bruce – gotta love the grilling 6 months out of the year – win/win! ~TMR~

      Reply
  50. Sandra

    Once you start using your solar oven – you will love it! I live in Las Vegas and use it all the time. You can use it to bake or cook so many different things and it doesn’t heat up your home and it costs toning to use – yay!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Oh Sandra, I can’t wait! In NE Texas we have plenty of sun so I know I’ll use it alot this year. Love it! ~TMR~

      Reply
    2. Tina

      I live in Las Vegas and it’s about 110 here right now. My power bills are threw the roof even though my AC is set at 79. Where did you get the solar oven and how do you use one?

      Reply
      1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

        Tina, I have this one –> http://amzn.to/1LqCrGH (affiliate link). Cooking in a solar oven is super easy: prepare ingredients, put in solar oven, point to the sun. Boom! There is an introduction in the link I shared as well. You can also search my blog for things I’ve cooked in the solar oven by clicking on the “Solar Cooking” tag. I love mine, give it a try you’ll be hooked! ~TMR~

        Reply
      2. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

        Tina, I have this one –> http://amzn.to/1LqCrGH (affiliate link). Cooking in a solar oven is super easy: prepare ingredients, put in solar oven, point to the sun. Boom! There is an introduction in the link I shared as well. You can also search my blog for things I’ve cooked in the solar oven by clicking on the “Solar Cooking” tag. I love mine, give it a try you’ll be hooked! ~TMR~

        Reply
  51. Heather

    These are great ideas! Our house stays relatively cool in the summer (we live in Maine), but there are a few weeks of incredibly hot weather and we typically don’t cook at all at those moments, instead opting for salad and smoothies 🙂 I would love to have a dehydrator. I have heard of people using their cars for such a thing in the summer! Maybe this year I will give it a go as well!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Heather, Texas weather turns hot and incredibly humid around this time of the year and well through September. I’ve donned my “war on kitchen heat” hat and started the preparation. LOL I love dehydrating because you can store so much food in such small space and without added electricity for the freezer or canner. I’m hoping to dehydrate garden veggies in quantity this year! ~TMR~

      Reply
  52. Sandra

    I like the grill option when it gets hot. I have been reading a lot about Solar Ovens. It look really interesting!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Sandra – I’m planning to expand my solar oven usage this year, I can’t wait to cook more in my solar oven! ~TMR~

      Reply

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