Summer Meal Planning + Caprese Salad on a Stick Recipe

Let's talk about summer meal planning.

I find it's more difficult to plan our weekly meal plan during the summer months. Perhaps that's counterintuitive to what you may think given the abundance of vegetables growing in our garden, but that's the very reason why it's so tough! I am constantly on the search for creative ways to use up our bowls of tomatoes & piles of squash, aside from my usual canning & freezing for the winter months ahead. 

I've shared several tips & tricks for budgeting & meal planning (here, here & here), but I've never shared how my system adjusts during the summer months. 

As with every season, I assess what we have. I check my pantry, dig around in the freezer, walk the garden & talk to Luke about what we'll be harvesting this week. Once I've got a pretty general idea of what ingredients we already have on hand, I make a plan.

I pull out my favorite cookbooks (I'm a huge fan of Simply in Season & the Skinnytaste cookbooks), check my recipe box, gather saved recipes from magazines & scan my saved images on Instagram (I love that new feature!).  

Once I have my recipes, I check our weekly calendar of events & plan our meals out for the next seven days (this is my favorite meal planner to date - it has the detachable shopping list, which I love). I typically only plan dinners & fill in our lunches with leftovers/sandwiches/salads & breakfasts with peanut butter toast/eggs/smoothies. 

Here's this week's meal plan:

M: Peach & Tomato Salad (from Better Homes and Gardens)
TU: Zucchini Garden Chowder (Simply in Season)
W: Pizza Lasagna Roll Ups (Emily Bites)
TH: Grilled chicken with squash & basil salad (Simply in Season)
F - SU: Camping! (Separate meal plan)

I typically only jot down the main meal & add in fresh sides as we harvest vegetables from the garden (sautéed zucchini, roasted new potatoes, cucumber salad, etc). 

As for potlucks, picnics & special events throughout the week, I make a note of sides & desserts I will need to bring.

Last week I brought along this delicious caprese salad dish to book club & thought I'd share the recipe with you!

Caprese Salad on a Stick 

- Cherry tomatoes, halved
- Handful of fresh basil
- Mini mozzarella balls
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
- Course sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
- Toothpicks or mini serving sticks for taste-testing 

Pierce one ball of mozzarella on your mini stick or toothpick followed by a leaf of basil, half of a tomato, another leaf of basil & a second ball of mozzarella. Place on a cookie sheet & repeat until you have enough tomato/basil/mozzarella sticks for your gathering.

Drizzle olive oil & vinegar on each stick. Sprinkle salt & pepper to your preferred taste. Transfer the sticks from the cookie sheet to a pretty serving tray. Refrigerate or serve immediately. Enjoy!


How do you use up the abundance of produce in the garden during the summer months & plan your weekly meal plan? Share your thoughts below!



Christi said...

I follow the same kind of method; often we serve cucumber salad (cucumber & onion in vinegar) and sliced tomato with every meal. Also, panzanella! You can use any vegetables; if they don't lend themselves to using them raw in the salad, almost everything works roasted. YUM!

Heidi Joe said...

I just checked out the Better Homes and Garden Skinny Slow Cooker Recipe book from the library, and there are so many good recipes in there, I think I am going to buy it! There is a whole vegetarian secion in there, too, so it's not just all pulled pork. ;)

Jerrie said...

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful menu. It all sounds amazing. Would you mind sharing your menu for camping? We love to camp and it would be interesting to see what you fix when camping. We have a tradition on the first night of camping when you are always just getting set up and tired. I heat up the cheese fondue in foil, tear up some crusty bread and open a bottle of wine.

Shelley said...

I struggle in the summer with meal planning also. Thank you for some fresh ideas!

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