(Warning:  this strategy might not work so well if you have kids or a grumpy spouse)

I don’t know about you, but when summer comes around, I’m not big on slaving away for hours over a hot stove. I like to enjoy some free time outdoors. You know – get outside and really experience life.

I’m not against cooking nice filling dinners in the summer, but doing it every night is a real time drain. I’d rather be hiking around a neat park or reading on a blanket in the shade. I’d rather be playing tennis and taking the dogs to play at the dog park. You with me?

When you don’t get home from work until 6 or 7pm, spending an hour or more on dinner is a good way to drain the rest of your energy while simultaneously killing your good mood.

As long as you get an adequate breakfast and nutritious lunch (lots of veggies), there’s no need to go overboard with big dinners all the time – especially if you’ve packed on some winter pounds.

Here are some ideas for tiny snack-like dinners that you can prepare and eat in just a few minutes. They all have enough protein to give you some energy to go out and explore the world.  And you could always toss them in a cooler with some wine and go for a picnic in the park.  (Tip: If you get hungry again close to bed, sip on some warm milk with cinnamon and nutmeg.)

1.  Banana w/ nut butter and granola. Grab and partially peel a banana. Use a knife to spread a blob of your favorite nut butter on the next bite of banana. Dip it into a bowl or bag of granola to coat.  Eat and repeat.

2.  Tuna in a pouch. (made using the solid-white albacore tuna in air-tight pouches)  Cut open the tuna pouch and throw in a small forkful of mayo (or avocado instead) and some random stuff from the fridge. Maybe toss in some grapes or nuts or a little lettuce and some radish. Eat straight up with a fork or on crackers (my favorite crackers are Wasa).

3.  Fresh mozzy’s. Cut up a fresh mozzarella ball and put on toasted bread, crackers, or in a wrap with fresh basil and tomato. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and add a sprinkling of salt and pepper and enjoy.

4.  Simple  salad. Grab a handful of spinach or micro-greens and throw on a hard-boiled egg  (precooked earlier in the week) or goat cheese. Add a couple other veggies of your choosing (onion, radish, broccoli, etc) and drizzle with a quick dressing (whip together extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fancy brown mustard). You can crumble some cracker on top if your feelin’ it.

5.  Cottage cheese with strawberries. Pretty simple stuff here, just slice strawberries on some cottage cheese (or yogurt if you’d rather) and eat with a fork or wrap in lettuce and eat with your fingers.

6.  Yogurt dipped veggies. Combine just a little bit (to suit your taste) of a ranch seasoning packet with some plain yogurt. Serve with raw veggies of your choosing.

So, there you go. I’m giving you permission to eat small for dinner once and a while. Permission to get out of the kitchen and out enjoying the world.

Do you have any idea’s of your own?? Leave them in the comments.

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(photo by Antikris)