5 Cheap Summer Foods to Jazz Up Your Menus
Seasonal produce is your ticket to snazzy summer menus that don’t break the bank. Fresh fruits and vegetables perk up your salads, diversify your dessert options, and simplify your side dishes. These five foods represent some of my favorite ways to mix it up at dinner during the warmer months. (See also: Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, By the Month)
Urban dwellers should start seeing it on the shelves soon, but if you have the space, this is something you can grow on your own for free. Two of my favorite rhubarb recipes are pie and a stewed sauce to use in dessert squares and on top of ice cream. But there are many other things you can do with it, including wine and a number of savory dishes.
While it’s technically available all year long, the drop in price during the summer months makes pineapple recipes a more sought-after commodity for warm-weather menu planners on a budget. Grilled “steak” rounds, spicy fruit salsa, and chilled rum drinks all make my short list, but there are other ideas you can try out too — Hawaiian pizza on the grill, for example.
I love when the price drops on mango due to the seasonal rise in temperature. I use it to create dishes based on a number of international cuisines, as well as refreshing summer treats like sorbet and smoothies. One of my favorite ways to use a firm mango is in a salsa with black beans, minced jalapeno, red onion, and cilantro with a splash of freshly squeezed lime juice. It pairs well with fish, sticky rice, or both.
Those who grow their own food are already aware how crazy this plant goes in the garden. If you don’t live in the country with people putting wheelbarrows of the stuff by the side of the road for free, you can at least expect a price break at the supermarket during the summer. There are more ways to use zucchini than there’s room enough for in this article. From savory pancakes to cakes and stir-fry dishes, the possibilities are extensive indeed. I’m partial to putting some in a vegan minestrone soup or deep frying some to serve with marinara for an appetizer. The point is, if you have a good sized batch of this stuff in the fridge, you’ll never be short of dinner ideas.
Another cheapie you can grow in your yard, collards are also extremely affordable at the grocery store. One of several cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetables, they can be used in place of cabbage for baked-stuffed rolls in tomato sauce, sautéed with black-eyed peas for an easy side dish to enjoy with sweet potatoes, or cooked on their own.
The list of summer foods you can use to perk up your dinner plans is certainly more extensive, but these five are among the most affordable and flexible, in my opinion.
Do you have any creative ways to use these produce items? Are there other foods that top your grocery or garden list in the summer?