Easy Summer Food that Paper Plates Can Handle

Sometimes I feel like I run a school cafeteria.  The amount of food we go through is amazing.  Often times I can get overwhelmed and bogged down wishing that the meals I make would go farther.  With two teenage boys in the house and 7  more to follow, the amount of food my family requires isn’t going to magically decrease.  It will only increase!  I just need to face up to that fact and expect large amounts of food to be on order for a while!  The trick is figuring out how to make large amounts of quality food without spending massive amounts of money and without  keeping me in the kitchen all day! 

I’m always looking for inspiration to help me meal plan and budget.  Fall and Winter time are easier for me to meal plan.  I incorporate lots of soups, stews and chili and add bread and cornbreads to those meals.  I can make a large hearty meal to feed a large amount of people while warming up the house at the same time.  However, in the summer time…I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to cook when it is hot outside.  I hate heating up the kitchen! 

Here are some summer cooking lunch ideas we have been incorporating into our meal planning that are simple, relatively fast and work with paper plates. 

  • Deli Sandwiches:  Buying good quality deli meat can be very expensive especially when you need to make a bazillion sandwiches.  I do buy deli meat on occasion but usually save it for quick sandwiches for my pregnant self or the older ones.  The younger ones would rather have peanut butter anyway.  I look for sales on Boar’s Head deli meat and can usually find it on sale (sometimes with a coupon) at Publix for around $6 or $7 a pound.  Costco / Sam’s have deli meat for around $5 or $6 a pound.  Otherwise, I can use left over roast or chicken for sandwiches the next day.  That’s better for you anyway right!
  • Chicken Sandwiches:  I can boil a couple of whole chickens and get a good amount of meat off the chickens to make a large bowl of chicken salad.  I like to make grilled chicken salad sandwiches which is basically making a grilled cheese sandwich with chicken salad on it. 
  • Tuna Salad Sandwiches:  I usually buy the ginormous can of tuna from Sams / Costco and make the whole can into tuna salad.  Tuna salad always goes over better here if I add chopped pickles, chopped apples and chopped boiled egg in with it.  I also like to grill my tuna salad sandwiches or toast the open-faced sandwich in the oven with sliced bell peppers, sliced purple onions and cheese on top. 
  • Peanut butter and jelly can always save the day.  It’s better than stopping off at a fast food place!  Costco carries really inexpensive organic peanut butter and usually they have organic strawberry preserves too.  These items are great to have in your pantry stockpile!
  • Taco meat for burritos, salads and nachos:  Taco meat is very versatile.  You can use it to make a summer taco salad for a quick and easy lunch.  Taco meat can be cooked up in bulk and frozen in zip-lock baggies and quickly heated up when you need it.  We also eat a lot of burritos for lunch because they are fast and easy to make in mass!  We also make up large batches of nachos with the taco meat. 
  • Add ons:  Adding lots of fruits and vegetables also helps feed my crew.  Growing a garden helps with providing more vegetables and buying bulk fruit helps cut the cost of fruit by the pound. 
  • Baked goods:  I’ve also found that making whole wheat and bran type muffins and quick breads is very filling and satisfying.  I’m always on the lookout for bananas that are ripe and have been marked down because I use them for making muffins and breads.  I try to avoid baking during the heat of the day .  Bake after the sun has gone down if you’re going to bake!

Stay tuned for more summer lunch ideas in the coming weeks….

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