Summer Meal Ideas for Busy Families

Summer means keeping up with kids' activities and a larger grocery budget

School’s Out for Summer! For children, summertime means sun, friends and fun! For most parents, summer means keeping up with kids’ activities and a larger grocery budget as children aren’t consuming breakfast and/or lunch at school. Looking for ideas on what to feed your family during the summer months? Look no further!

One-Pot Meals

Skillet Taco Mac is the perfect recipe for those busy summer nights! Taco mac can be on the table in 30 minutes from start to finish. Clean-up is a breeze as you only have one skillet to wash, meaning you can have more time for summer fun as a family! Serve with roasted broccoli and fresh fruit for a complete meal!


Paninis or grilled sandwiches elevate a traditional sandwich to the next level! Our family enjoys customizing our paninis to our personal preferences! My husband enjoys turkey pesto while I like grilled chicken, pepper jack cheese and red bell peppers and my daughters love ham and cheese. Serve with hummus, pita chips and cut vegetables!

Elevate the traditional BLT sandwich by using artisanal bread and add avocado and/or a fried egg. For some added heat, drizzle with sriracha.


We love to grill hamburgers, chicken, hot dogs and brats all summer long! Spread a thin layer of butter on your bun and grill the bun to add a nice texture and flavor. Anytime we grill we also throw chopped vegetables into a grilling basket, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper for a healthy and easy side dish! Our favorite vegetables to grill include zucchini, squash, bell peppers, onions, and asparagus.

Photo: Summer meal idea - grilled chicken Greek orzo wrap.


When I think of summer I think of fresh salads! Add homemade croutons for extra crunch!

Pasta salad is a great side for any summer meal! Our family enjoys this Greek Orzo Salad. In addition to serving the pasta salad as a side, we enjoy using the leftovers served over lettuce with grilled chicken or in a wrap.


Tortillas are often a pantry staple and can make for the base of a great breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack! Sometimes we can get stuck on only using tortillas for tacos (which are delicious) but tortillas are a versatile grain food that can be utilized in a number of dishes. Try out these 15 ways to use a tortilla for your next summertime meal!

Free Meals

Free Meals for children 1-18 are offered in communities across the United States at parks, pools, libraries, churches and schools. There is no cost or enrollment to participate! Food served is healthy and follows USDA nutrition guidelines. To find Free Summer Meals Near you text ‘Food’ to 877-877 to receive information. Summer meal program keeps kids powered up for summer fun and academic success!


Looking for the perfect summer dessert! This sweet and tart Frozen Lemonade Dessert is a favorite of our family!

Jill Ladd MPH, RD, LD

— Contributed by Jill Ladd, MPH, RD, LD