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Easy No-cook Meals for Summer Nights (Whole30, Paleo, Keto, Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

cucumber, watermelon, salad, cold salad, no cook, summer salad
Cucumber Watermelon Salad

For those hot days when I can’t even imagine turning on the stove or grill, these easy go-to meals come together quickly and use ingredients you typically have on hand. When it’s just sweltering like it’s been in Colorado, I like to think of dinner as more of a cold lunch instead. Don’t get stuck in thinking your meals have to follow certain rules or templates. They don’t. Just do what you need to do to try to eat a well-rounded meal and not resort to something convenient, cheap, and usually unhealthy. Below are three of my go-to options that may seem simple, but the key is planning to have some of the ingredients on hand so that you have something to make quickly when you just can’t think about adding extra heat to your house.

Protein Salads

Egg, chicken, and tuna salad are all favorites of mine at any time of year for lunch, but during summer they often become the star of dinner. Use canned chicken or tuna and pre-cooked hardboiled eggs for a quick meal that you can have on hand in the pantry. Click here for a compliant mayo recipe or feel free to use store-bought. Get creative with your seasoning. Think curry, ranch, lemon pepper, mexican, etc. I love to eat these salads plain with any of the below sides or to use them in a wrap or sandwich.

Wraps and Sandwiches

Finding lunch meat with better ingredients is getting much more common. When in doubt, use leftovers. I love to use cold steak, leftover chicken or turkey, even pork chops. Just slice really thinly to layer in a wrap. For the wrap itself, I use lettuce, siete grain-free tortillas, cassava flour crepes, or gluten-free sandwich bread. Fill with lots of veggies, pickles, sprouts, mayo or mustard, avocado, or cheese if you’re eating dairy.

Green Salads

Perhaps the easiest of no-cook meal of them all. Start with a bed of greens of your choice and then layer from there. I usually just go simple and add some protein. Again I like to use leftovers like chicken breast, steak, or pork but you can find a lot of good precooked options as well. Get creative with your toppings, toss with your favorite dressing and enjoy.


No-cook means raw veggies. My favorites include snap peas, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, jicama sticks, carrots, and cucumbers. Combine with one of the following dips and enjoy; guacamole, ranch, hummus, baba ganoush, pesto, etc. I also love to have a cold side like potato salad or coleslaw that’s easy to make in a batch for the week. Don’t forget about fermented foods like pickles, saurkraut, kimchi, and other pickled veggies. They are great for you! Of course, fruit on the side is easy and there are such great things in season. Don’t worry about the sugar right now and try to eat a variety of colors to get lots of nutrients.

Bonus recipe:


I have been eating this like crazy!


½ medium-sized watermelon diced

1 cucumber diced

A handful of fresh mint - chiffonade

1 lime - juiced

Salt to taste


Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Allow to chill for at least an hour for flavors to meld. Even better the next day.

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