Because summer tends to be a more laid-back and flexible time of the year, you may find yourself relying on the same quick and easy meals that you’ve been making for years. If you’re feeling tired of your same mealtime routine and constantly wondering what to cook during the summer, it’s understandable! Luckily, you don’t have to give up easy-to-make summer meals to be more adventurous in the kitchen. Embracing summer seasonal produce — and pairing it with John Soules Foods Fully Cooked Chicken and Beef — can lead to simple, easy and delicious summer meals that appeal to every appetite.
Jump to Sections:
- The Struggles of Summer Cooking Plans
- Best Produce in the Summer
- Where to Buy Fresh Summer Produce and Quick, Easy-to-Cook Proteins
- Best Recipes to Cook With Summer Produce
- Visit a Retailer Near You
The Struggles of Summer Cooking Plans
From school break and summer vacation to family barbeques and Independence Day celebrations, summer can conjure all sorts of memories — many of which are tied to food! Whether you prefer hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob or watermelon slices, when it comes to summer foods and easy summer meals, the clichés abound along with the nostalgia. These summer classics are delicious, but they may leave you feeling uninspired as you plan your summer meals and menus.
There are many reasons why you may struggle with summer cooking plans. Maybe your work schedule is different during the summer months. Maybe you are on break from school and working a new summer job. It might be that you are hosting family or other visitors and accommodating many different diets. Or perhaps you are on vacation and completely removed from your typical routine and your own kitchen. Whatever the reason, seasonal produce can easily alleviate many of your summer cooking struggles. In general, summer is the best time of year to find readily available, fresh and delicious produce of all varieties.
You are likely already familiar with many of the best-tasting recipes for the summer. From pasta salads to peach cobbler, the possibilities for summer produce recipes are endless. When you think of summer produce, appetizers and side dishes may be the first menu items that come to mind. While those options are simple, delicious and make great additions to any summer menu, you can easily turn any summer produce dish into a hearty main entrée. Simply adding protein, such as pre-prepared options like John Soules Foods Fully Cooked Chicken and Fully Cooked Beef, to a produce-forward dish is an effortless way to elevate any recipe to entrée status.
Best Produce in the Summer
This list can serve as a guide to some of the most popular and easily accessible summer produce offerings. While many of these foods are available throughout the year, they tend to be especially delicious and rewarding to eat while they are in season — and that’s during the summer. Best of all, each of these summer produce options will pair wonderfully with the best fully cooked chicken and beef entrées from John Soules.
Tomatoes are one of the healthiest and most enriching foods! Cherry tomatoes are an especially great option for during the summer months, as their small size and ready availability make them nearly as easy to cook as they are to snack on raw. In addition to being delicious, cherry tomatoes contain many health benefits. They are rich in vitamin C, which plays an important role in many different body functions and contributes to the body’s overall health. Cherry tomatoes also contain lycopene, a compound that has been shown to reduce inflammation and blood clots. Some research suggests that a diet high in tomatoes can even lower the risk of prostate cancer.
Corn is truly a classic — few foods have more of a connotation with the quintessential American summer than corn. Corn is indigenous to the Americas, and historians believe it was first cultivated in what is now Mexico about 10,000 years ago! Because corn is starchy and contains more sugar than other kinds of vegetables, some people are averse to eating it. However, in moderation, corn can provide the human body with many vitamins and nutrients that are key to overall health. Corn is rich in vitamins C, B, E and K. It also contains lutein, which can aid in eye health, especially the prevention of cataracts. In addition, studies have shown corn can increase gut health and digestion.
Like corn, green beans are also indigenous to the Americas, and they’ve become a staple in many American kitchens. Their peak season is from May to October, which makes green beans especially delicious in the summer. Green beans are really a win-win option when it comes to health benefits. They are a low-calorie food and contain many beneficial nutrients, including antioxidants like vitamin C, flavonols, quercetin. They are high in fiber, which can aid digestive health. Green beans are also famous for their folate content — a nutrient that is especially beneficial for people who are pregnant.
Similar to green beans, okra is a low-calorie food that packs an incredible health punch. Okra’s availability tends to be more prevalent in the South, and its use may not be as well known in other parts of the country. Technically a fruit, okra is a savory-tasting produce option, full of cancer-fighting antioxidants and folate.
Zucchini is one of summer’s best and most versatile produce items. It can be steamed, roasted, fried and even used as noodles! Enriched with vitamin B6 and plenty of fiber and low in calories, zucchini is an excellent addition to nearly any quick and easy summer meal.
Cucumbers are technically a type of fruit, though they typically play a savory role in most dishes. Because cucumbers are primarily composed of water, they are an especially refreshing option that can help alleviate discomfort during the hot summer months. Cucumbers are an excellent source of vitamins K and D, both of which have been shown to support bone health.
Peaches are known for their delicate skin and beautiful pinky-orange color. The color of a peach isn’t just decorative — it’s a result of high beta carotene content, which is vital for eye health. In addition, one peach can help you meet about 13% of your daily vitamin C intake and as much as 9% of your daily fiber needs. In addition, like cucumbers, the main component in a peach is water — making them highly desired in many summer recipes.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries — the possibilities are endless! Berries are versatile, flavorful and delicious summer produce options that easily transition from salads and sides to sweet desserts. Like most fruits, berries are full of cancer-fighting antioxidants and vitamins like C and K. Blueberries and blackberries are particularly hydrating and filling thanks to their high water and fiber content. Berries are a key component in many of the best summer recipes, making them an evergreen addition to your summer shopping list.
Watermelon truly lives up to its name — each one of these fruits is made of about 92% water. Like corn, watermelon is a classic American summer food. Many of us have memories of snacking on this delicious summer produce during the hot summer months. But watermelon isn’t just a snack — you can incorporate it into salads, wraps and smoothies. You can even grill watermelon! In recent years, watermelon has become an increasingly popular addition to many vegetarian and vegan diets. Its versatility and broad appeal make watermelon an excellent, affordable produce item to add to your summer menus.
Where to Buy Fresh Summer Produce and Quick, Easy-to-Cook Proteins
As consumers, we are lucky to have several different options when it comes to shopping for the best summer produce. Most American shoppers tend to favor local grocery stores or supermarkets. Both of these are viable options for produce shopping. While shopping at your local grocery store, you may also want to consider incorporating pre-cooked protein additions into your summer recipes, which pair excellently with all types of summer produce. Luckily, John Soules Foods Fully Cooked Chicken and Fully Cooked Beef are available in stores nationwide.
In addition to your regular grocery store, summer can be a great time for you to explore local farmers markets in your area. Farmers markets typically offer the freshest and most environmentally sustainable way for you to purchase summer produce. In addition to produce and other farm goods, farmers markets often include offerings from other small business owners as well, such as bakeries and breweries, making farmers markets a valuable way for you to engage with and support your local community in a tangible way.
If you’re wondering when to purchase strawberries or how you can tell if a watermelon is ripe, shopping at a farmers market is likely a great option for you. Market vendors typically grow the produce that they are selling themselves, making them genuine experts. They can guide you and assist you with finding the best summer produce in quantities to suit your family’s needs.
To find good farmers markets or food stands in your area, check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a Local Food Directory, which highlights direct-to-consumer produce stands and markets. This searchable nationwide database gives comprehensive information about locating markets and food stands. In addition, they offer some suggestions about in-season produce options in your regional area.
Your grocery store can help you buy local as well. Many stores have programs and special signage to denote locally grown produce that they may have in stock. Ask the employees at your local store for guidance.
Best Recipes to Cook With Summer Produce
The versatility of tomatoes makes them a summer produce must-have. Try Chicken and Roasted Tomato Soup for those cooler June nights. And a classic Chicken Caesar Salad is a summer go-to. Just add John Soules Foods Fully Cooked Chicken to turn this side into an entrée. If you’ve always wanted to make your own tomato sauce from scratch, summer is the perfect time to give it a try!
Grilling corn and eating it straight from the cob is a tried-and-true summer snack for a reason. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try adding corn to a Beef Tostada, which comes together in just 25 minutes.
If you’re interested in trying some Mediterranean-inspired recipes, summer is the perfect time of year. Refreshing ingredients like mint and lemon often appear in Mediterranean cuisine and wonderfully complement summer produce staples like cucumber, tomatoes and peaches. Try a Greek Chicken Pita or Greek Beef Salad, both of which make great mid-day meals.
This Wine Country Summer Salad is another multi-veggie winner. This recipe includes tomatoes, zucchini and bell peppers and could easily be modified to incorporate even more summer produce. It makes a great, shareable addition to any barbecue or dinner party.
For a sweet treat, try Brioche and Berry Bread Pudding. This dish is somehow rich, refreshing and indulgent all at the same time. It’s also simple to make and a great way to showcase summer berries. The whole family will find it just as good for brunch as it is for dessert. For a classic, quintessentially summer dessert option, try a fresh Peach Cake — you won’t regret it!
Visit a Retailer Near You
Do you feel inspired and ready to try out some new, delicious summer recipes? First, make sure you have everything you need– and that means John Soules Foods Fully Cooked Chicken and Fully Cooked Beef should be at the top of your list! Once you’ve picked your protein, you’re ready to start mixing fresh summer produce with delicious and easy John Soules Foods offerings. John Soules Foods products are already fully cooked and seasoned making meal time easier for you. This means no standing over the hot stove and no laborious preparation hours before mealtime. The convenience and quality of John Soules Foods products take away the stress and struggles of mealtime cooking. Truly, quick and easy summer meals have never been simpler or more fun!