June 12, 2013 at 1:54 PM ET
Did you know studies show that kids who eat dinner regularly with their families tend to be healthier physically and emotionally, do better in school, and are less likely to get involved in risky behaviors like drugs, alcohol and cigarettes?
If such a simple, healthy and achievable act can have such a profound impact on our kids, it’s worth making it a priority in our hectic lives.
But how do we keep up the dinner motivation when the heat outside makes us feel like crawling into the refrigerator instead of cooking?
Living in Maryland, where the thermometer on a typical summer day can easily top 95 degrees, sometimes it can feel too steamy to turn on the oven or stove. Here are some suggestions for keeping your kitchen cool this summer while still turning out delicious meals for your family.
Keep the Heat Outside: Cooking on the grill keeps the heat outside, where it belongs!
Eat Cool Food: In the summer, we think it’s a treat to eat cool sandwiches, wraps and all types of salads. Even some dishes that we would normally enjoy eating hot can be tasty served cold, like rice dishes or noodles. Pair them with fresh summer fruits and vegetables and you have a mouth-watering and healthy summer meal.
Eat Outside/Poolside/Waterside: Keep your family cool by enjoying your dinner somewhere with cool breezes or cooling water. My family loves to eat dinner on our screened porch or at our neighborhood pool, where no matter how high the temperature gets, we can always cool off in the water. I try not to worry too much about serving the food at the ideal temperature (but it is important to keep things that could potentially spoil cool. You can do that by packing a small cooler with those items.) The pool and park are also ideal for potluck gatherings with friends.
Don’t Neglect Your Slow Cooker: It may seem counterintuitive to use the slow cooker in the summer, because we usually associate it with hearty soups and stews in the winter. But it doesn’t throw off much heat, can make dinner for you when you aren’t there, and is extremely versatile -- you can even make pasta and fish in the slow cooker.
The heat of summer is often a great excuse for more casual, no-cook meals. Here are five ideas for easy no-cook meals that won’t heat up your kitchen.
Aviva Goldfarb is founder of The Six O'Clock Scramble, an online dinner planning solution for busy parents, and author of the acclaimed "Six O'Clock Scramble" cookbooks.
Take the Family Dinner Challenge to show your support for family dinners. Join thousands of other families to make a difference – one family dinner at a time.