5 No-Cook Summer Meal Ideas From Trader Joe's—All Less Than $5

This story was originally published on May 24, 2017.

Hot food in cold weather makes sense. As does heating up our stove tops, ovens, and crockpots to make comforting dishes. But what about summer? Summertime happens to be that special season where ALL we want to do is eat out — because it's just too damn hot to cook. So our kitchens inevitably turn into an empty wasteland, complete with tumbleweeds of homemade meals past. The problem is, hitting up Seamless or our favorite restaurants every night of the week for three months straight isn't the most budget-friendly solution. So what's a hangry person to do?

Say hello to the no-cook meal: A dish that consists of absolutely no cooking (or heating) of any kind. And before you jump to strictly salad conclusions, just wait. Because we've created five fast, easy, delicious, AND different no-cook recipe variations ahead; from savory zoodles to fresh pita pouches and more. The best part? Each dish overlaps on ingredients, so you can knock out a week of homemade meals in one fell shopping swoop (we've included the full shopping list ahead!) Not to mention, each recipe yields plenty of leftovers — enough to feed a friend or for easily packable next day lunches. (You'll have enough extra ingredients to whip up repeats or bigger portions, too.) Oh, and did we mention each dish costs less than $5 per serving?!

Get, ready to say goodbye to sweating it out in the kitchen — well, at least for as long as these meals will last you.

Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Vegetarian Pita Pouch
Serves 2

Ingredients
1 whole wheat pita
4 tbsp hummus
1 cup romaine, chopped/shredded
1 cup cucumbers, finely sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Toast pita, slice in half, and then evenly fill each half with the following: hummus, romaine, cucumbers, tomatoes. Serve with a side of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste for dipping.

*Tip: Add in sliced chicken or turkey breast from the deli for extra protein.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Zoodles With Almond Parsley Pesto
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 zucchinis
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/4 Parmesan, shaved
1/4 cup almonds (or nut of choice)
1/2 cup parsley (or herb of choice)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 stalks green onion (or 2 garlic cloves)
1/2 lemon, juice
Pinch of salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions
1. Wash and spiralize zucchini into large bowl, then slice cherry tomatoes and set aside.

2. For pesto, place almonds, parsley, olive oil, green onions, and salt and pepper into a food processor and pulse until paste-like (add water or more olive oil for a thinner consistency).

3. Massage enough of pesto spread into zoodles as your prefer and finish with a squeeze of lemon to better coat.

4. Top with sliced cherry tomatoes and shaved parmesan.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Tuna, White Bean, & Arugula Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 cups arugula
1 can tuna
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
3 tbsp green onions, sliced
1 cup white beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions
Layer arugula, tomatoes, white beans, tuna, and green onions then top with drizzle of olive oil and balsamic with salt and pepper to taste.

*Tip: Store pre-mixed salad in refrigerator for up to a week with dressing separate.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
ALT & Fruit Salad
Serves 1

Ingredients
2 pieces of whole wheat bread, toasted
1/2 avocado, pitted and scooped
1-2 tbsp parsley pesto (from zoodle recipe)
1 handful arugula
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 handful blueberries, washed
2-3 strawberries, washed and sliced

Instructions
1. Toast bread and spread each half with parsley pesto, then top with mashed avocado and sliced cherry tomatoes. Follow by sandwiching handful of arugula in between.

2. Serve with fruit as a side.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Greek Salad
Serves 2-3

Ingredients
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup cucumbers, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup green onions, sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions
Mix romaine, chickpeas, olives, feta, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and green onions together in large bowl. Top with drizzled olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

*Tip: Add in sliced chicken or turkey breast from the deli for more protein.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Shopping List For All Five Meals
(assuming you already have olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt & pepper)

Produce
1. Romaine Lettuce
2. Arugula
3. Zucchini
4. Parsley
5. Cherry Tomatoes
6. Lemon
7. Green Onions
8. Avocado
9. Cucumber
10. Berries/Fruit Of Choice

Pantry
11. Nuts Of Choice
12. Loaf Of Whole Wheat Bread
13. Whole Wheat Pitas
14. Canned Tuna
15. Chickpeas
16. White Beans

Refrigerated
17. Hummus
18. Feta
19. Kalamata Olives
20. Parmesan