Easy Summer Dinners | Meal Plan Menu

This menu of summer dinner ideas is packed with fun! Start the week off with smoked salmon and cream cheese roll-ups (aka cream cheese pinwheels), then make a Thai larb recipe, a healthy breakfast for dinner recipe, and finish up with an Old Bay shrimp boil recipe.

  • By Jess Dang
  • July 9, 2021


Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Roll-Ups

A fun twist on the concept of bagels and lox, these pinwheel-style roll-ups are colorful and delicious — not to mention quick to make! Cream cheese, smoked salmon, and other traditional bagel-and-lox flavors get rolled up in a tortilla, then sliced into 1-inch rounds. You’ll also use Everything Bagel seasoning, a blend of the seasoning used on everything bagels, to add extra flavor to the roll-ups. These fun bites are served with a side of lemony arugula salad topped with grated parmesan and black pepper. 

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • Everything Bagel seasoning can be found in spice stores or some grocery stores (notably Trader Joe’s), or you can skip it, make your own, or use just poppy seeds or sesame seeds.
  • You can make the cream cheese roll-ups a day before you plan to serve them to save time (or make extra to save some for lunch the next day).

Diet Variation:

  • Use gluten-free tortillas in the gluten-free version of this meal. 
  • The paleo version plays on the same flavors with Smoked Salmon Cucumber Boats with Cashew Cream.
  • Vegetarians will make Cucumber and Cream Cheese Roll-Ups, and add strawberries and almonds to the salad for extra heft.


Thai Larb Lettuce Cups with Mango and Cucumber Salsa

Larb is a spicy Thai dish of finely chopped protein, seasoning, and fresh herbs and lime juice. We turn it into a complete meal by serving pork larb in lettuce cups and adding a side of simple mango and cucumber salsa, which you can spoon into the larb cups if you prefer. You’ll also mix quinoa into the larb recipe to make it healthy and satisfying. Sprinkle with peanuts and drizzle with hot sauce and lime juice, and you’re ready to go! This meal comes in at 37 grams of protein and will take you just 30 minutes to make. 

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • Reduce food waste by using fresh cilantro in this meal, then finish up the bunch in Wednesday’s healthy breakfast for dinner recipe.
  • Leftover ground pork and quinoa freeze well, so consider making extras for a busy weeknight
  • Leftover Thai Larb can be added to fried rice or a vegetable stir-fry.

Diet Variation:

  • Go gluten-free by using tamari instead of regular soy sauce.
  • For the paleo version, make a few easy swaps in the larb recipe, and skip the quinoa — you’ll increase the amount of pork to make up for it!
  • Use lentils instead of pork for the vegetarian version.

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Poached Eggs with Creamy Spinach

Everyone loves breakfast for dinner ideas! This Cook Smarts favorite is simple, light, and satisfying. You’ll make flavorful, creamy wilted spinach to serve over toasted English muffins, which get topped with poached eggs (we’ll show you exactly how to make poached eggs for great results). They get served with a side of rich balsamic marinated cherry tomatoes. This meal also makes a great brunch for when you have company over, so practice it for dinner and then keep it on hand for later!

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • You can freeze any leftover English muffins; just wrap tightly to prevent freezer burn, pop in your freezer, and you’ll be able to make this healthy breakfast for dinner recipe at a moment’s notice!

Diet Variation:

  • Use gluten-free sandwich bread instead of English muffins in the gluten-free version of this meal. 
  • Skip the English muffins and the yogurt in the spinach, and add breakfast sausage patties in the paleo version.
  • No changes are needed for the vegetarian version.


Shrimp Boil with Green Salad

The height of summer practically requires an Old Bay shrimp boil! In our shrimp boil recipe, you’ll boil onions, potatoes, corn, sausage (like smoked andouille), and shrimp in seasoned water until cooked. We’ll tell you exactly when to add each component so that it all finishes together. Then you’ll drain it all and drizzle it with a simple compound butter. The shrimp boil is served with a side salad with tomatoes as well as dipping sauces of your choice. In an hour’s time, you can have a home meal that you’d normally need to seek out at a restaurant or special event!

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • Leftover shrimp and sausage freeze well.
  • You can also chop leftover ingredients and serve them chilled with a vinaigrette for a refreshing side dish.

Diet Variation:

  • No changes are needed for the gluten-free version of this meal. 
  • Skip the corn and potatoes, and instead use sweet potatoes and extra sausage in the paleo meal.
  • Use vegetarian sausage instead of the sausage and shrimp for the vegetarian version.

All meals come with gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian options, as well as a grocery list and optional weekend prep steps. Join our weekly meal plan service to get the grocery list, dinner steps, and more cooking tips for these 4 simple dinners.

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