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6 strategies to help you beat the heat and join the summer fun.

If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen! That's what I say when it's summer, and the very thought of turning on the stove or oven inspires beads of sweat to form on your brow.

But how do you "stay out of the kitchen" and still fix dinner for yourself and your busy brood?

Eating out or ordering takeout gets expensive and tiresome. But cooking dinner in the summer can be a challenge. Not only do we want to avoid the kitchen as much as possible, we need something we can prepare with a moment's notice, since school-free family members may be coming and going all evening long.

Never fear. I've got some ideas on how you can minimize your kitchen time and this summer.

1. Get 2 Grilled Entrees for the Price of 1

While the barbeque is all fired up on the weekend, go ahead and throw tomorrow's dinner on, too. Roasted veggies or kabobs, chicken, lean steak, pork tenderloin or prawns are all great choices.

  • If you throw four chicken breasts on the barbie while grilling tonight's salmon, tomorrow's grilled chicken Caesar salad will only take five minutes to make.
  • Throw on a peppered pork tenderloin while you're grilling tonight's light hot dogs, and you can make BBQ pork sandwiches or pork tenderloin sandwiches with pesto and tomato the next night.
  • While grilling tonight's hamburgers, put on tomorrow's shrimp and veggie kabobs or chicken sate skewers. All they need is a quick reheat in the microwave (be sure to pull the skewers off first if they're not microwave-safe).

2. Blend up a Summer Soup

Cold summer soups can be savory or sweet. The sweet types feature ripe summer fruits like berries or melon; the savory ones are usually based on a vegetable like cucumber, zucchini or carrot, or a veggie wanna-be like tomato or avocado.

Two big summer favorites are gazpacho, the Spanish tomato-based soup with bell peppers, onion, garlic and cucumbers; and vichyssoise, which features pureed potatoes, leeks, and a swirl of cream.

3. Summer Salads + Protein = Dinner

Salads are a refreshing change from hot dinner entrées. But how does a salad become a meal with a minimum of fuss? In a word, you need protein! From plant, fish or fowl, the choice is yours.

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