July Meal Plan: 31 Easy Stay-Cool Summer Dinners

Ah, July… The sun is blazing, the days are long, and the last thing you want is to crank up the stove and turn your kitchen into a sauna. That’s why you need this July meal plan… because a stay-cool summer dinner plan isn’t just a nice idea – it’s a lifesaver. 

With a little monthly meal planning and ideas from this simple July menu plan, you can enjoy dinners that are easy, nutritious, and – most importantly – cool. Let’s talk about how you can create a July dinner plan that keeps you and your family satisfied without overheating.

Pinterest image of a woman smiling while writing her July menu plan in a notebook. The overlaid text reads 'July Meal Plan: 31 Easy Stay-Cool Summer Dinners.'

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5 Tips for Creating Your July Dinner Plan

Planning your dinners for the month of July has some serious perks. It can save you time, energy, and money… along with being healthier than frequently eating take-out!

Here are a few tips to build a monthly menu that works for you…

1. Set Your Goals: What Do You Want from Your July Meal Plan?

Before you start jotting down recipes, take a moment to think about your food-related goals for the month of July. Do you want to focus on using fresh, local produce? Are you aiming to keep meals under a certain cost? Maybe you want to introduce more variety to keep things interesting. 

Whatever your priorities, having clear goals will help guide your planning and ensure your meal plan meets your needs.

Recommended resource: Use my Essential Meal Planning Printables to keep yourself organized when it comes to your July menu plan!

2. Make a July Dinner Plan That Everyone Will Love

When planning dinners for the whole family, it’s important to consider everyone’s preferences. Get input from family members to ensure there’s something for everyone so you can avoid falling into the trap of making several different dinners every day. 

Throughout the month, include a mix of familiar favorites and new dishes to keep things interesting. Will every new dish get rave reviews? Probably not, but it’s likely you’ll find at least a few great meals to add to your regular dinner rotation.

3. Keep it Simple: Minimal Ingredients, Maximum Flavor

Collage of delicious dinner ideas for July meal plan, featuring a plate of grilled steak with chimichurri sauce and fresh salad, sticky glazed chicken drumsticks, a bowl of teriyaki chicken with broccoli over rice, seasoned grilled fish with corn on the cob, and a stacked BLT sandwich with crispy bacon, fresh tomatoes, and lettuce.

Summer meals should be all about simplicity. Focus on dishes that use a few fresh, high-quality ingredients. Simple doesn’t mean boring – fresh herbs, produce, citrus, and spices can add big flavor without a lot of fuss.

4. Use Quick and No-Cook Dinner Ideas

To keep your kitchen cool, incorporate plenty of no-cook and quick-cook meals. Think salads, wraps, and cold noodle dishes. 

When you do need to cook, opt for methods that minimize heat, like grilling or using a slow cooker outside. These strategies help you enjoy delicious meals without turning up the temperature.

Related: 45 Summer Salads That Are Amazing Light Summer Meal Ideas

5. Shop Smart: Plan Your Grocery Trips

A well-thought-out grocery list is your best friend. Plan your meals in advance and make a list of everything you need. Shop once a week – or every two weeks – to reduce trips and still ensure you have fresh ingredients on hand. 

Take advantage of seasonal produce at farmers’ markets or your local grocery store. And remember to be flexible – if you spot a great deal on something not on your list, be ready to incorporate it into your meal plan.

31 Summer Dinners For Your July Meal Plan

If you have some cooking skills, you probably don’t even need recipes for most of these meals. This list is mainly for inspiration and easy dinner ideas to add to the regular meals you already have on your July monthly meal plan. 

1. Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken with Asparagus – Grilled chicken breasts seasoned with lemon and herbs, served with grilled asparagus.

2. Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa – Tortillas filled with seasoned shrimp and topped with a refreshing mango salsa.

3. Teriyaki Chicken Bowls – Grilled teriyaki chicken served over rice with steamed broccoli.

Teriyaki chicken with grill marks over white rice, topped with steamed broccoli and teriyaki sauce. A small bowl of extra sauce is in the background.

4. Stuffed Bell Peppers – Bell peppers filled with ground meat (we like a mix of Italian sausage and venison), rice or riced cauliflower, and veggies, topped with cheese. We bake these for 30-40 minutes at 350°F, but you could also try ‘baking’ them on the grill or using a slow cooker. 

5. Greek Chicken Gyros – Grilled chicken in pita bread with tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, and pickled onions.

6. Lemon Garlic Shrimp Skewers – Grilled shrimp skewers with your own lemon garlic marinade, served with quinoa or a crisp green salad.

7. Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps – Tuna salad served in crisp lettuce leaves. This is a perfect no-cook meal on its own, or add one of your favorite summer side dishes

8. Grilled Steak with Chimichurri Sauce – Grilled steak topped with a fresh chimichurri sauce, served with a side salad.

Grilled steak with chimichurri sauce, served with a fresh salad of cherry tomatoes and greens on a rustic tray.

9. Baked Tilapia with Lemon Butter – Tilapia fillets baked with lemon butter, served with steamed green beans.

10. Chicken and Vegetable Kebabs – Grilled skewered chicken and vegetables. You could also throw the ingredients into a grill basket (or two).

11. Stuffed Zucchini Boats – Zucchini halves stuffed with ground beef or Italian sausage, tomatoes, and cheese. Bake in the oven or on the grill.

12. Beef Tacos – Ground beef tacos with your favorite toppings.

13. Grilled Pork Tenderloin – Pork tenderloin marinated and grilled, served with a summer salad.

14. Salmon Burgers – Homemade salmon patties served on buns with lettuce, tomato, and a dill sauce.

15. BBQ Chicken Drumsticks – Chicken drumsticks coated in BBQ sauce and grilled.

A plate of BBQ chicken drumsticks garnished with fresh parsley, served with a side of BBQ sauce in a small glass bowl. A white cloth napkin and more chicken drumsticks are visible in the background.

16. Fish Tacos with Lime Crema – White fish in tortillas, topped with lime crema and cabbage slaw. The recipe calls for quickly baking the fish, but I’m sure you could grill it instead to keep the house cooler.

17. Tuna Pasta Salad – Cold pasta salad with tuna, celery, onions, and a light mayo dressing.

18. Grilled Lamb Chops – Lamb chops seasoned and grilled, served with roasted potatoes.

19. Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce – Grilled chicken skewers with a savory peanut dipping sauce.

20. Blackened Catfish – Catfish fillets seasoned and blackened, served with corn on the cob.

A plate featuring blackened catfish fillets seasoned with pepper and herbs, served alongside a piece of grilled corn on the cob, garnished with fresh greens.

21. Pulled Chicken Tacos – Slow-cooked pulled chicken served in tortillas with your favorite toppings.

22. Sausage and Peppers – Italian sausage cooked with bell peppers and onions, served up ‘plain’ or on hoagie rolls. This is a perfect meal to make on an outdoor griddle.

23. Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps – Hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, and lettuce leaves.

24. BLT Sandwich – The classic simple summer dinner sandwich – bacon, lettuce, and tomato.

A BLT sandwich with crispy bacon, fresh lettuce, and juicy tomato slices stacked between two pieces of toasted bread, served on a white plate with whole tomatoes and lettuce in the background.

25. Cold Sesame Noodles with Chicken – Add leftover shredded chicken to cold noodles, sesame sauce, and cucumber.

26. Roast Beef Sandwiches – Sliced roast beef, horseradish sauce, and arugula on a baguette. For a fun alternative, make them in a roast beef crostini version.

27. Chicken and Avocado Wraps – Grilled chicken, avocado, lettuce, and whole-wheat tortillas.

28. Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry – Sliced beef, broccoli, and a homemade stir-fry sauce over rice.

29. Beef Taco Salad – Ground beef, lettuce, cheese, and salsa in a taco shell bowl. You could also make this with grilled chicken for another variation.

A vibrant taco salad served in a crispy tortilla bowl, featuring seasoned ground beef, shredded cheddar cheese, guacamole, sour cream, sliced olives, lettuce, and diced tomatoes. The dish is beautifully arranged on a white plate.

30. Grilled Salmon and Vegetables – Salmon and vegetables (we love asparagus and zucchini) marinated in Italian dressing, then grilled to perfection. Tip: grill the salmon skin-side down on aluminum foil.

31. Marinated Grilled Flank Steak – Grilled steak with balsamic and soy sauce marinade. Serve with grilled vegetables.

What To Do With Leftovers From Summer Dinners

Leftovers don’t have to be boring or repetitive during the month of July. If you don’t like to eat leftovers for lunch the next day, then with a little creativity, you can transform them into new dishes. 

Here are some strategies to make the most of what’s left in your fridge:

  • Plan Ahead: When meal planning, think about how you can use leftovers in other meals. For example, extra grilled or roasted vegetables can be added to a frittata or quiche.
  • Store Properly: Keep leftovers fresh by storing them in airtight containers. Label and date them so you know what to use first.
  • Freeze for Later: If you don’t plan to eat leftovers within a safe period of time, freeze them.

Here are some ideas for using leftovers:

  • Roasted Veggie Quesadillas: Use leftover roasted vegetables and some cheese to make quick and tasty quesadillas.
  • Fried Rice: Leftover rice can be quickly stir-fried with veggies, scrambled eggs, and a protein like shrimp or chicken.
  • Stuffed Peppers: Use leftover grains, beans, and meat to stuff bell peppers. Top with cheese and bake until heated through.
  • Salad Toppers: Almost any leftover protein can be sliced and used to top a fresh salad.

My Must-Have Kitchen and Meal Planning Resources

Keep-cool summer cooking is so much easier with the proper tools!

Heavy-duty sheet pans — great for roasting in the main oven and for carrying cooked foods in from the grill. I use both half-size and quarter-size sheet pans.

*Note: I have linked to aluminum pans, which I use daily even though they are almost the only things in my kitchen that are not dishwasher-safe. I would prefer stainless pans that can go into the dishwasher, but I have yet to find any that are highly-rated and warp-free. When baking, I use silicone mats or parchment paper sheets. When roasting, I coat the pan with oil.

Sheet pan lids — LOVE these for thawing frozen items and then popping into the dishwasher. They’re also great for covering a sheet pan and the universal size fits my different brands of half-size sheet pans.

Flexible cutting boards — Having several boards makes prep easy, and a ‘grippy’ back is a plus!

Knives — A good variety of knives is great for prep day, plus sometimes you can ‘cheat’ and run them through the dishwasher. I know you’re not supposed to, and I would never do it with expensive knives, but sometimes a less expensive knife set serves all of the necessary purposes and makes life a little easier.

Egg slicer that can go into the dishwasher. I love hard-boiled eggs on my salads, so this tool gets used a lot and it’s important that I don’t have to spend an hour cleaning it.

Plastic storage containers — stackable is best for prepped foods, leftovers, sandwiches, etc.

Grill tools — tongs, spatula, sauce brush

Meat thermometer

Large mixing bowl with lid — I have two (one kept ‘pretty’ to use for parties and one everyday workhorse) — perfect for mixing fruit salad, mixing and seasoning vegetables before roasting, soaking beans overnight, storing a prepped dinner salad in the fridge, and all sorts of general kitchen needs.

My large bowls are older-style Tupperware and I’m not even sure they make those anymore. If I were buying bowls today, I would get this stacking stainless steel set with lids.

Silicone mixing spatulas — I have 2 large size AND 2 medium size; I use at least 2-3 of them almost every day.

Silicone-tipped tongs for mixing and serving salads and turning foods in frying pans or on hot sheet pans. They’re not fancy, but the open/close button on the side means I can use them one-handed. I have two because I use them ALL the time.

Salad spinner — because making all of these salads means prepping a LOT of lettuce.

Gallon freezer bags — they tend to leak less often than regular storage bags when using for marinating.

Heavy-duty aluminum foil — I like the 18” wide size for cooking on the grill and lining sheet pans for super-messy meals.

Kabob skewers – or – grill basket (this version is stainless steel with a removable wood handle, which means it can go into the dishwasher).

Food chopper — helps with chopping vegetables, eggs, or nuts if you’re not great with a knife.

Essential Meal Planning Printables Collection — Grab these to help keep yourself organized when planning.

More Summer Food Ideas

30 Quick And Simple Summer Meals (Plus Easy Summer Food List Ideas)

Quick Food Prep Routine for a Week of Easier Meals

August Menu Plan

38 Easy Summer Meals You’ll Want To Make On Repeat – Includes a recipe link for every meal

45 Summer Salads That Are Amazing Light Summer Meal Ideas

Whew! With all of these July meal ideas and summer meal inspiration, I hope you’re motivated to create your own July meal plan of simple, stay-cool dinners!

You’ve got this!

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Pinterest illustration of a woman in an apron holding a recipe card with various kitchen ingredients on the counter. Text reads: 'Summer Meal Plan: Easy Dinners for Every Day in July.'

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