Keeping your home cool during the summer months can be pricey, especially in states where energy consumption costs are ultra high—like California, Hawaii, and pretty much everything north of New Jersey. In California, it costs an average of 62 cents an hour to run an air conditioning unit. That means that leaving the AC on while you get your eight hours of sleep will cost you as much, if not more than, your morning cold brew. Run it nightly, and by the time summer ends, the grand total will be around $446.40.
AC is an annoying but non-negotiable expense for anyone who prefers to wake up refreshed instead of soaked in sweat. But there are a few easy ways to cut down that bill without sacrificing too much comfort. Keep the blinds drawn to prevent unwanted heat from penetrating your home, switch out incandescent lights for energy-saving compact fluorescents (CFLs), and avoid using the oven and stove as much as possible.
That last one is easier said than done. After all, who really craves cold gazpacho or smoothie bowls for dinner every night, even in the dog days of summer? It seems like the only no-cook option left is salad—boring. But it’s possible to make flavorful and satisfying meals with minimal cooking. Less cooking means less AC and ultimately more money in your pocket. Here are 24 of our go-to no-cook staples, without a cold soup in sight!
These adventurous, raw veggie dishes are anything but your typical lettuce-crouton-and-dressing salads. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that—you can find 11 of our favorite classic salads here.) Make a few and load up your plate tapas-style, or add tuna or grilled chicken for a heartier meal. Either way, your taste buds will be surprised and delighted.
You need just eight ingredients to throw together this delightfully bright dish, which tastes perfect as a barbecue side or on its own as a light dinner.
One taste of Granny Smith apple vinaigrette will blow your mind. The slightly sweet, tangy dressing softens crunchy Brussels sprouts, and sprinkling the whole thing with Parmesan cheese really kicks it up a notch.
Grilled watermelon with a spritz of lime and dash of salt makes a surprisingly tasty summer treat. The only problem? Firing up the grill can take a while. Instead, get your savory watermelon fix with our spicy fruit salad.
Think of these as tiny, salad-filled burritos that you get to dip into dressing—except way healthier. We like filling ours with herbs, pea shoots, and avocado, but you can really throw anything that’s in season into the mix.
They’re filled with greens and protein, but you’ll never guess the secret stone fruit hiding in these gorgeous spring rolls. Trust us, it’s that fresh, magical ingredient that makes ’em perfect for summer eating.
Winter grain bowls are nourishing and filling, but require lots of stovetop and oven time. These summer-inspired dishes still feel hearty without weighing you down. Get familiar with a spiralizer or vegetable grater to make veggie “noodles” with zero cooking involved.
Poke—a raw Hawaiian seafood salad served cold—just might be the perfect summer food. Light, fresh, and healthy, the whole dish takes less than 10 minutes to throw together.
Here’s another take on poke (you’ll be hooked once you try it!) with a citrus-ginger marinade. Serve it over kelp noodles or scoop it up with pita chips for an easy, protein-dense dinner.
Ain’t nothing wrong with ordering in every now and then. But save a little cash (and some calories) with this lighter take on the Thai favorite.
Wanna get your pasta fix without the belly bloat? When topped with Mediterranean herbs and spices, these zucchini noodles taste just like an al dente version of classic spaghetti!
Creamy alfredo sauce is so good, but it’s a veritable dairy bomb—no good for the 75 percent of Americans who are lactose intolerant. Keep it clean and stomachache-free with this easy avocado-basil cream sauce.
When you’re craving some protein but can’t bring yourself to turn on the stove, whip out the slow cooker. It’s easy enough to set while you’re at work, and won’t generate as much heat as the oven.
Serve a classic take on short ribs with buns to upgrade sloppy joes (a camp classic, for sure). Tender, juicy short ribs make a great swap for plain old ground beef.
Same cut, different recipe. Garnish this savory dish with lemon and basil for a bright, summery finish.
There you have it—24 no-cook meals, and not a single gazpacho on the list. Your tummy (and electric bill) will be happy all summer long.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont