50 Summer Dinner Ideas For The Dog Days of Summer

50 Summer dinner ideas for the dog days of summer. Plus free printable menu to take the guesswork out of meal planning.

We start off pretty strong when it comes to new season meal planning and summer is no different.

Everything is fresh and my tastebuds are ready for a change of season. As a family with young kids, we go into summer real strong ready to try our hand at new dinner ideas and recipes.

A few weeks go by and my mind has melted like a popsicle on the 4th of July.

Rules go out the window. Kids are making pillow forts in the living room and you find bowls under each end table. How did we get here? What day is it?

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Table of Contents: 50 Summer Dinner Ideas

The last thing I want to do is think about dinner and even thinking about what we use to eat summers prior, is a struggle.

But not today! Because today is a comfortable 82 degrees and the kids still have two more days of school. So today we are making a summer dinner menu! One that can be printed out and placed on the refrigerator for everyone to see. No brain fog- just simple dinner ideas that are fresh and delicous.


Although I will share a few of my favorite ways to prepare things, this article is more filled with ideas than recipes. Because, honestly, you know how to make your favorite chicken dishes, sometimes we just get into a rut and forget some seasonal favorites!

I hope you find this list helpful and if I’ve missed a simple dish or two, let me know in the comments so others can give it a try as well.


I love picking up a large container of chicken breasts and making a couple of simple meals at once. For instance, I may plan for chicken kabobs, but I’ll also boil a couple of breasts for a simple chicken salad on a bed of lettuce. It may be a little extra work but lunch or dinner for the next day is already done.

  • Chicken kabobs
  • Chicken teriyaki with rice and veggies
  • Chicken wings
  • Pancit with chicken and veggies
  • Chicken fajitas
  • Chicken quesadillas
  • Chicken salad with walnuts and grapes
  • Chicken alfredo
  • Chicken broccoli casserole
  • Chicken patties + Buffalo chicken sliders
  • Chicken stir fry
  • Chicken and french fries
  • Loaded nachos with leftover chicken

I am in love with a simple chicken pancit dinner, and so is my youngest daughter. A good friend taught me her special recipe and it’s been a hit in this house ever since. If you haven’t tried making it yet, you should! It’s super easy and you can get simple follow along directions here – Pancit Dinner Recipe


You’ll find a few of the same ideas on this list, such as kabobs and fajitas. Both are great with either chicken or steak but sometimes you pick the meal based off of available proteins or what’s on sale that week.

It’s even great to pick up an extra ground beef or two to stick in the freezer. That way you can do a simple lettuce and tomatoes wrap burger using staple ingredients and skipping the grocery store altogether! Score.

  • Steak kabobs with veggies and grilled corn
  • Steak and potatoes
  • Hamburgers with coleslaw
  • Beef and cucumbers with rice
  • Grilled tri tip
  • Flank steak and broccoli
  • Steak/ground beef tacos
  • Steak fajitas
  • Steak Quesadillas
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Ground beef stuffed peppers
  • Loaded nachos with leftover steak

Have you tried grilled tri tip yet? Oh. My. Goodness. Ok, so this one does take some time but it is so worth it! Juicy, tender, steak, with a dry rub that is so flavorful. It’s chiefs kiss, and this is exactly how we make it, step by step. -How to make grilled tri tip.

Sushi roll between chopsticks.


Fish and seafood usually take a backseat to other simple dishes, such as chicken, but when I do find a good sale it is game on. One of our all time favorites is salmon with lemon and dill with a side of rice and asparagus. Or keep it simple with fish sticks and tarter sauce. It’s summer! Let the extra easy dishes win every once in a while.

  • Salmon, rice, and asparagus
  • Calamari salad
  • Surf and turf
  • Shrimp scampi
  • Fish sticks with tartar sauce and a side salad
  • Fish tacos with lime
  • Sushi bake
  • Musibi

Speaking of easy, this sushi bake is high on our summer favorites list! No rolling involved and easy enough even for a beginner. You an check out the full recipe and follow along directions here. – Delicious Sushi Bake Recipe


Smoked pulled pork is the pork of choice in this home and even though the smoking of the meat does take the better part of a weekend day, it can be used in so many different ways! Pulled pork sandwiches, in mac and cheese, tacos, nachos, quesadillas and more! Giving you several days of proteins already made in advances.

  • Homemade mac and cheese with spinach, cherry tomatoes, and ham
  • Tenderlion
  • Pork chops
  • Kielbasa
  • Pulled pork
    • Sandwich
    • Mac and cheese
    • Tacos
    • Nachos
    • Quesadilla
  • Beer Brats

Beer brats is a summer classic and once you should put on the list for a weekend BBQ. But the question is, it is better to soak in beer first and BBQ second? Or BBQ first and soak in beer second? We’ve tried both ways and you can read all about the it in this article. -The Best Beer Brats Recipe-

Tofu stir fry with carrots and green onions.


Sometimes it’s really nice to skip the meat, and I really dislike articles that only talk about pasta as a vegetarian dish. I grew up eating mostly vegetarian in our family home and I can tell you, my parents can cook a great vegetarian dish or two! But if we’re talking about a veggie hot dog, than Loma Linda Linketts are by far the best and you can find them on Amazon or your local Adventist Book Center- aka ABC.

  • Tofu fried rice
  • Black bean burgers
  • Veggie hot dogs
  • Eggplant Parmasan
  • Tofu curry
  • Spaghetti squash with a garlic butter sauce
  • Tortellini with grape tomatoes
  • Pizza night
  • Haystacks

Most people think that a Haystack is a simple walking taco salad, but I’m here to tell you that it is far more than that! These Haystacks with Frito chips are so simple to make, take almost no time to prepare, and are both light and filling!

The problem with Haystacks is how delicious they are and once you try them, you’ll understand exactly how great they are for summer. -How To Make The Best Haystack Dinner-


Summer salads don’t need to be boring salads that only consist of lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Instead add a leftover protein, chickpeas, and seasonal fruit! There are so many flavor combinations and making it extra hearty can turn a simple salad into a light and filling meal.

  • Grilled chicken with strawberries and feta
  • BLT salad with avocado
  • Tri tip steak salad
  • Egg salad on a bed of lettuce
  • Watermelon and feta salad
  • Chinese chicken salad
  • Broccoli salad with red and yellow peppers
  • Tuna salad on a bed of lettuce with garlic dressing
  • Cobb salad
  • Three bean salad
Three bean salad recipe with sliced tomatoes, fresh parsley, and bight orange peppers.

Three bean salad with a tangy dressing and fresh parsley can be the perfect summer side dish or a salad on it’s own! Try our favorite way to prepare this salad here. -The Best Three Bean Salad Recipe-


The day can easily get away from you in the summer with pool days, playdates, and work. For days just like that I like to have a few staples on hand for a charcuterie board dinner. With deli meat, veggies, and fruit, this simple and quick dinner is exactly what we need to make sure we’re eating healthy even with busy schedules.

  • Deli meat
    • Salami
    • Turkey
    • Ham
  • Crackers
  • Cheese
  • Olives
  • Nuts
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Melon
  • Oranges
  • Mango ect.

By keeping a deli meat, crackers, and cheese on hand, you already have the main ingredients for this simple dinner. All you need to do now is add some fruit and veggies and you have an easy summer meal made in minutes.


Our thumbs are getting greener with every passing year and it’s become so rewarding to grow our own vegetables in our little garden. This year our squash is doing really well, as are our tomatoes. Soon the kids will find a healthy snack right in the yard, and what mom could get upset about that.

  • Asparagus
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Corn on the cob
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash
  • Green beans
  • Beets
  • Side salad
  • Corn bread
  • Coleslaw
  • Potato salad
  • Pasta salad
  • Broccoli Salad
  • Baked beans
  • Macaroni salad
  • Chips and salsa
Cucumber salad with vibrant, fresh, vegetables.

If you have a late lunch then sometimes a simple snack of chips and salsa is all you really need for dinner. Homemade cucumber salsa is a great way of getting added vegetables. With fresh ingredients such as cucumbers, tomatoes, jalapenos, and more, this delicious salad is a summer staple. -Homemade Cucumber Salas Recipe-


Recipes are great, but other times you just need a little reminder about some of the classic summer favorites. I hope you found this article helpful and to make it even easier I’ve included a Summer Dinner Ideas- Printable menu. That way you can print it out to display on your refrigerator for helpful meal ideas all summer long.


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