Simple Summer Menus that Will Save You Money
Many of us like to entertain in the summer. And while there's nothing wrong with beans and weenies, sometimes we want to jazz it up a bit for company. Here are three separate menus for casual dining events you can use throughout the summer season.
We all look for ways to mix up the menus when the seasons change, right? It's why the news shows always cover the topic, and the main reason behind last summer's backyard barbecues post. These menu pairings all cost less than the equivalent entrée at a restaurant, making them an excellent way to bridge the gap from dining out to eating in. They are also reasonably simple to pull off, making them a hit for those trying to make the most of their free time while the great weather lasts.
Spicy chicken tenders with jasmine rice and accented French beans.
The boneless, skinless chicken tenders at the warehouse stores in my are are $1.97 a pound. When we want dinner fast, but still want to eat with style, I pop some jasmine in the rice cooker, thread a couple of tenders each onto skewers, whip up a no-brainer peanut sauce in the blender, and stir fry some European green beans (one of my favorite side dishes and convenience foods) with grape seed oil, sesame seeds, ginger and orange zest. Got company coming? Ice down some micro brews and whip up some no-bake oatmeal chocolate cookies. Here's a recipe from Alice Morton, the 96 year old grandmother of my old college dorm buddy. (Since all the women in that family can cook, I'm pretty confident about this one.) No-Bake Chocolate Dream Cookies: 4 tbsp. cocoa, 2 cups white sugar, 1 stick butter, 1 cup shredded coconut, 1 tsp. Vanilla, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 tsp. salt, 3 cups oatmeal. Stir cocoa, sugar, margarine salt and milk together in a saucepan until it reaches a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla, oatmeal and coconut. Stir. Drop on waxed paper by teaspoonful.
Tuna steaks with spicy slaw and sliced pineapple.
There's a discount seafood place down the road from our house that sells pre-packaged tuna steaks in a large bag for around a buck each. Even at four ounces each, that's still less than the best price I can get on lamb. Baste them on the grill with lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve with horseradish sauce and the peanut lime coleslaw recipe from my cabbage article. This is a great no carb meal that can easily be made vegan by skipping the tuna steak and going heavier on the peanuts. Looking for a white that will stand up to the spice? Check out the recommendations from an award winning wine steward in this post. Since the purpose of this menu is going light, I recommend slicing up a fresh pineapple. In our neck of the woods, Save – A – Lot has been having the large ones for about two dollars a pop which is the cheapest I've seen. Need some tips on how to cut them up like a native. Check out this tip sheet from Hammock in Paradise.
Black and blue salad with toaster oven bruschetta.
Trying to avoid heating up the house? Slice up a long loaf and top with affordable gourmet ingredients as desired. Then slap a few slices in the toaster oven for bruschetta without a major oven event. Chunk up either chicken breast or super sale sirloin and thread the pieces on a kabob stick. Season them with something that'll provide spice and blackening, such as a dry rub or homemade barbecue sauce. Place the cooked meats on simple three ingredient salads of greens, tomatoes and purple onions and sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese. Make a simple vinaigrette and serve with an affordable pinot noir. For dessert, go with a low fat vanilla ice cream drizzled with the flavored liquor of your choice. You could also consider a low fat chocolate swirl cheesecake, or other cool treat, if you have the extra time and energy.
Got another simple summer menu that sizzles with style and cost savings? Share your idea below.