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Complete Make-Ahead Summer Dinner Menu & Recipes

Brenda loves comfort food. Especially homemade comfort food like the recipes on this page.

Summer Time means Summer Food!

Summer Time means Summer Food!

This Delicious Summer Dinner Menu Features Make-Ahead Recipes

Summertime and the living is easy! Or maybe just easier with this complete summer dinner menu comprised mostly of recipes that can be made ahead!

Some of them require quite a bit of work beforehand (potato salad generally does) but, on the day you are having company, you are hosting a BBQ or just need your supper to be ready and waiting, there is little work to be done.

My family usually takes a number of the components of this meal when we go camping. We arrive and set up camp and our first night supper is ready and waiting for us in the cooler. We also often take parts of this meal to potluck dinners or to the homes of our family and friends.

Click here to buy this flag from Amazon to fly at your Summer Dinner.

Mix 'N Match Summer Dinner Idea

On this page, you will find my complete summertime menu which includes recipes for tossed salad, glazed baked ham, Hawaiian potato salad, country seed bread, Hawaiian punch and even a couple of dessert options. I have been making parts of this meal for up to twenty years and assembling the whole menu periodically for the last eight. As a Mom of teenage boys, lots of food is always welcome and anything that provides delicious leftover possibilities, fantastic!

Of course you can choose whichever components of this meal that you like. You can simplify it by eliminating the baked ham and serving deli ham instead. Or maybe you have your own family-favourite potato salad so you'll take a pass on the one I've included. However you choose to create your menu, I hope you'll enjoy some of the ideas on this page and that some of these recipes will become favourites of yours, too!

The Best-Ever Glazed Baked Ham Recipe

How would you describe the best-ever glazed baked ham recipe? In my opinion, the recipe for the best baked ham would have to be fairly easy to put together and yield an absolutely delicious result. This recipe does just that. It is actually very easy and the result will melt-in-your-mouth.

The Best-Ever Garden Salad Recipe

The Best-Ever Garden Salad Recipe is a special recipe that I take to potlucks and occasionally make for my family. It is a yummy recipe for a tossed green salad that features a wonderful low-fat dressing. The recipe originates from the Looneyspoons: Low-fat Food Made Fun cookbook authors, Janet and Great Podleski.

Make a lot of salads? You'll love the Oxo Salad Spinner! I do.

Make a lot of salads? You'll love the Oxo Salad Spinner! I do.

The Oxo Good Grips Green Salad Spinner

Allows you to spin your salad dry quickly and easily. It is Amazon's top selling salad spinner.

The best salad spinner is The OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner. It is Amazon's bestseller and has is the salad spinner with the most five-star Amazon customer reviews. Plus, I can personally vouch for it. We have had this kitchen tool in our kitchen for years and we love it!

The Best-Ever Hawaiian Potato Salad Recipe

Potato salad is one of those foods that tastes better the next day. That suits me perfectly on occasions when I want to have part or all of the meal made ahead of time. This one definitely gains a lot of flavour overnight and I wouldn't dream of serving it on the day I made it!

Not the simplest potato salad recipe ever, this is certainly one of the most delicious ones! It contains more vegetables than the average potato salad and a slightly lighter-tasting and healthier dressing that still manages to be true to a mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip) based potato salad.

The Cold Bowl On Ice

The Cold Bowl On Ice

The Cold Bowl On Ice Will Help

Make sure that you keep your potato salad cold. Don't take any chances on serving your family and friends an 'iffy' salad.

The Cold Bowl on Ice is an attractive acrylic bowl that will help keep your salad chilled. You simply fill the base with ice. The cold will travel into the bowl and chill the food. I think that the fact that the bowl is acrylic is a bonus in the summertime when life tends to be more casual. It is break-resistant and dishwasher safe, perfect for The Best-Ever Hawaiian Potato Salad.

Don't use this bowl for transporting your potato salad unless you place it in a cooler with plenty of ice. The real purpose of the Cold Bowl on Ice is to keep your salad cold while it is on the table and people are serving themselves from it.

Two More Salad Side Dish Ideas

A snow pea salad and a cold rice salad.

If you need to round out your meal a bit more, you could consider adding a The Best-Ever Molded Rice Salad. Both are unique additions to your summer dinner menu.

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The Best Ever Veggies and Dip or Crudites Ideas

Crudites do a wonderful job of rounding out this meal. They provide color and crunch and, of course, more nutrition. Best of all, they are easy and when I put a plate of them together they disappear faster than lightning! (On the other hand, if my family opens the fridge and sees a bag of whole carrots or a cucumber, they are NOT going to be eating those vegetables!)

So in terms of this meal, I always prepare carrot coins. I used to buy baby carrots but I no longer consider them an option for my family. I also always prepare cucumbers and bell peppers. They are, if you will, the foundation of our crudites selection.

Depending on when the vegetables will be eaten and how much time I have to prepare them, I build up from there. I might add broccoli, cauliflower or cherry tomatoes but of course, the choice is endless. You can add any vegetables you desire.

If we are eating them at home, we have a fun fish-shaped platter that we use. My boys are teenagers but they still love those fun touches. If we are taking the vegetables to a potluck or a dinner, I will put them on a pretty white platter that I have although I am looking at the serving tray on ice shown below and thinking I ought to have one of those! A final option is the trusty Ziplock freezer bag. I use them when we are taking the vegetables on a trip, like to the campground. They are sturdy and malleable which means that when I squeeze them into the cooler, they are happy to fill whatever nooks and crannies are available. The crudites are usually the first item out of the cooler when we arrive at the campsite!

Dip? Oh yes, we have to have dip. (As a matter of fact, dipping it is the only way one of my sons can eat a carrot.) For convenience, we often buy a healthy choice salad dressing from the grocery store. However, we also frequently put together a natural lemon dill dip mix like one of these.

Appetizers on Ice Serving Tray

Appetizers on Ice Serving Tray

Appetizers on Ice Serving Tray

A 2-in-1 revolving serving tray with lid.

Perfect for keeping your crudites cold, this dish features a deep bottom tray for crushed ice and three food trays that sit above. It also comes with a removable cup for placing your dip in. Each of the trays on top has a lid to help keep the cold in and the insects out. Perfect for supper, this tray is made of clear acrylic so it won't be easily broken.

The Best-Ever Country Seed Bread

The Best-Ever Country Seed Bread Recipe is a delight to throw together using your bread machine. Most recipes for your bread maker are easy, but not all are as delicious as this one is. It always receives rave reviews and is a staple at our house.

If you are travelling, you'll want to make this bread the day before but otherwise, I would choose to make it the day of your dinner for there is nothing like the smell of a loaf of homemade bread fresh out of the bread machine.

Red Graniteware Pitcher

Red Graniteware Pitcher

The Best-Ever Hawaiian Punch Recipe

And a beautiful red pitcher to serve it in.

We love this Hawaiian punch and we serve it at parties, at special breakfasts like Christmas and Easter and when we just feel like treating ourselves. It is delicious, easy and nutritious plus we always feel like the day is special when we make an out-of-the-ordinary drink in the morning. It is a great family recipe although the measurements for adding rum are given. We have never found it necessary to do so though.

This recipe originated from the Culinary Arts Program at Maui Community College. I am sorry to say that I have absolutely no idea where I found it but I am pleased to say that we LOVE it. It's perfect for any party or gathering plus we often have it for a special breakfast, at a birthday party and my son even dressed as a Hawaiian and sold it at a cultural fair at his middle school. (Everybody loved it!)

To see Amazon's collection of red pitchers, click here.

Best Summer Weekends Cookbook

Complete Dinner Menus and More Meal Ideas

© 2009 Treasures By Brenda

Is summer food a part of your family traditions? And do you love or dread the ants?

Treasures By Brenda (author) from Canada on August 02, 2014:

@favored: Molded rice salad reminds me of the 1950s...when so many salads were made with Jell-o!

Fay Favored from USA on June 30, 2014:

Never heard of Molded Rice Salad. So many new choices here. Checking out some of your other links. Thanks.

anonymous on August 22, 2013:

Lots of great recipes for summer! I am from South Africa and we are currently putting winter behind us and anticipating the summer months!

Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on August 22, 2013:

I do not love ants. I tolerate them, as long as they don't stream in by hundreds. Summer food is definitely a part of our life and traditions. My favorite is potato salad, and I've got it down to 15 minutes for two (even built a lens on it). We love impromptu picnics, too, so we keep lots of foods on hand, ready to throw in a basket or bag and out the door. Nicely done page.

Margaret Schindel from Massachusetts on June 28, 2013:

Very yummy! Bookmarked for future reference. :)

Ruthi on June 12, 2013:

You have certainly thought of everything one could possibly need to cook up a perfect summer dinner, Brenda. Of course, you could have left the pesky picnic ants uninvited.

BuckHawkcenter on May 28, 2013:

Ooo, now you made me hungry for some great summer salads.

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on May 26, 2013:

So many great recipe recommendations and awesome serving suggestions! I will definitely be back for more inspiration :)

petelovestoread on August 01, 2012:

great lens and great recipes!

LadyKeesh on July 25, 2012:

I am liking this lens for the culinary day Quest.

antoniow on July 24, 2012:

Fantastic lens, nicely done! Squidlike

Treasures By Brenda (author) from Canada on July 23, 2012:

@anonymous: Thanks for visiting & for the feedback. I do appreciate it.

anonymous on July 16, 2012:

I love this site, I already found some things I needed too through you on amazon.com, the melanine plates and salad spinner, (mine got a bit roughed up in moving to my new house;) so thanks, and the receipes, everything, I will be stopping by again:)

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on July 16, 2012:

Ants don't bother me that much. Your ant salt and pepper shakers are adorable! Love the food options too.

Tamara14 on July 01, 2012:

Great ideas Brenda. Greetings from the hot Dalmatia, the best vacation area on Croatian coastline. I'm enjoying fresh summer salads these days but now I am thinking of trying some of your suggestions here:)

Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on June 22, 2012:

I enjoyed this sales lens. You made it happy, sassy and altogether a wonderful lens!SquidAngel blessings!

finalfantasyxvi on June 21, 2012:

Nice lens! Ant salt and pepper shakers are fine. Ants on my food, not fine. Yeah, summer food is a big part of my family traditions.

RetroMom on June 21, 2012:

Great ideas, perfect for the summer. I don't like ants especially when they come crawling on my food but i love those ant salt and pepper shakers.

Jazroockfree on June 18, 2012:

Great lens!thanks for sharing and information.

Jazroockfree on June 15, 2012:

nice lens!Thanks for sharing and information!I like cuisine.

gradientcat on June 02, 2012:

Sounds great, tasty ideas!

biggking lm on May 28, 2012:

watermelon is goooooooood

squid-pinkchic18 on May 24, 2012:

I love being at our cabin and eating all our summer foods. BBQ chicken, fresh fruits and veggies, ah - summer!!

mrsclaus411 on May 22, 2012:

Great ideas and yummy recipes. Looks like so much fun, perfect for summer.

poldepc lm on May 21, 2012:

just discovering, you are on the Top40List...great...fantatic...So proud, you SquidLiked one of my lenses...Congratulations...Learning a lot from you

entertainmentev on May 21, 2012:

I'm going to try the Hawaiian Potato Salad Recipe. It sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing.

LadyCharlie on May 20, 2012:

Nice picnic ideas...and a cute lens...blessed!

WiseWoman1 on May 20, 2012:

I love it! What a wonderful lens. Great images,delicious menus and ideas. Thanks for sharing. I will be using some of your recipes this summer.

Counterfeitmoneydetectors on May 19, 2012:

Great recipies! I need to try some!

CameronPoe on May 18, 2012:

Those ant salt and pepper shakers are the coolest. And I love the molded rice salad. I'd like to taste it.

biggking lm on May 18, 2012:

I love a really cold salad, and boy was I surprised seeing that they sell bowls that have ice and cool the food in them. Amazon here I come.

Webrevolve LM on May 18, 2012:

Summer is never complete without a traditional picnic in the sun!

happynutritionist on May 17, 2012:

mmmm...just give me a chunk of that watermelon in the intro and I'll be very happy eating it off one of the beautiful plates you have here...we do LOTS of barbecuing during the summer. Ants...they don't bother us too much...but yellow jackets, that's another story:-)

gemjane on May 17, 2012:

Nice lens! Makes me think of the wonderful picnics we had as kids with Mom's fried chicken and her homemade lemonade, and her roomy wicker picnic basket. Love the quotes and all the other ant stuff! Make-ahead recipes for summer are great!

Gayle Dowell from Kansas on May 15, 2012:

I hate to cook in the summer, so we eat a lot of sandwiches, soup in the crock pot, or barbeque outside.

Erin Hardison from Memphis, TN on May 15, 2012:

What a wonderful summer picnic menu. Love the ant salt and pepper shakers, but don't care for the real thing at my picnic. :) Congrats on LOTD!

vBizeso on May 15, 2012:

Nice Lens....

jakealoo on May 14, 2012:

Very appetising Lens indeed! Great job with this page, summer meals are surely something I'm looking forward to this year :)

Little Linda Pinda from Florida on May 14, 2012:

I also like the ant salt and pepper shakers. You sure picked out some great items.

peggygallyot on May 14, 2012:

Love your lens .

stargoldteam12 on May 14, 2012:

love this lens . nice thanks.

microfarmproject on May 14, 2012:

Nice summer recipes. Thanks!

anonymous on May 13, 2012:

I'm pretty much at peace with ants and they will clean up the smallest morsels that may be left behind. My grandma used to say, "Everybody has to eat", guess that's where my peace come from. You are prepared here for an absolutely complete make ahead summer fun menu. I don't think I'd heard of molded rice salad before. Congratulations on front page honors!

darciefrench lm on May 13, 2012:

Great summer dinner ideas and I really enjoyed the way you made the colors on the page match, very enjoyable lens :)

RinchenChodron on May 03, 2012:

I love the ants salt and pepper shakers! Very funny.

biminibahamas on May 03, 2012:

Great ideas for outdoor dining!

pcgamehardware on April 16, 2012:

Great ideas, I have to send my wife here... Thanks for sharing. :)

Heather McGlaughlin from Marryland on April 16, 2012:

Great lens, I love eating out of the fridge in the summer. Growing up we always ate dinner on our enclosed front porch. I miss those days.

justDawn1 on April 05, 2012:

Very nice lens! :)

NTxWriter on September 28, 2011:

Very cute picnic ideas and delicious sounding BBQ recipes! I love the things with the ants on them. The "how to throw a frisbee" was a cute idea too!

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on August 14, 2011:

I love a cool, ready-to-eat meal on a hot summer day. No slaving in the warm kitchen. I like a platter of sliced tomatoes, fresh from the garden. Sprinkle them with some oregano and feta cheese.

RecipePublishing on August 01, 2011:

Yummy oh so yummy.

TeacherRenee on July 22, 2011:

Great ideas! With a few weeks left of summer, I'll definitely try some of these ideas! Great lens!

phoenix arizona f on July 15, 2011:

Cool lens.

ellagis on June 30, 2011:

When I was a child, I used to have picnics with my family only once or twice per year, during summer holidays. So, I cant help considering it a very special moment, a great occasion to share with friends (and not with ants, pleeeeeeeeese!!!! :D )I love your lens, its full of colour, joy and nice things, just like a summer party!

GreenfireWiseWo on June 29, 2011:

Great ideas! Thank you.

pimbels lm on June 24, 2011:

Great selection of recipes. Can't wait to try them. Nice lens,thank you.

LindaCramer on June 21, 2011:

I was searching for a quick make ahead dinner. Thanks for the ideas!

DuaneJ on June 18, 2011:

great lens...mouth-watering...love the potato salad!

KokoTravel on January 09, 2011:

Very cute lens... isn't summer exactly when you want dinner to be easy and fun... thanks for the ideas.

VarietyWriter2 on September 01, 2010:

Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

Bellezza-Decor from Canada on June 24, 2010:

I love the idea of make ahead summer dinner recipes!

lasertek lm on June 23, 2010:

Can't wait to try the Hawaiian potato salad recipe. Thanks for sharing.

momto4 lm on June 10, 2010:

Great collection of recipes! Thanks for sharing!

Lynne Schroeder from Blue Mountains Australia on April 08, 2010:

Nice feature on summer food and great ideas. The ant shakers are cute but I couldn't help wondering how you would hold them!

Sandy Mertens from Frozen Tundra on November 02, 2009:

Nice lens! Love the ant shakers. Thanks for adding this to my Food Collection lens.

Kiwisoutback from Massachusetts on July 23, 2009:

Wow, great job! Thanks for linking to my lens. I'll have to come back for some dinner ideas for this summer.

Marelisa on July 22, 2009:

What a fantastic, summery lens. Here in Panama it's the rainy season but now I feel like going on a picnic. :-)

Simeyc1 on July 21, 2009:

Great stuff! Love the Hawaiin Potato Salad and those carrot ideas! Lensrolled to my Guinness Recipe Lens! 5*

Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on July 12, 2009:

Lots of great ideas here 5*

Carol Goss on July 09, 2009:

Oh this sounds yummy :) thanks

Cheryl Kohan from England on July 07, 2009:

I made that Hawaian Potatoe Salad and it's delicious. [in reply to shajo]

Robin S from USA on July 07, 2009:

This delicious lens is today's feature at the Cabaret Squidoo Best Recipes Arcade.

Eklectik1 on June 16, 2009:

I Love everything about summer

Barkely on June 10, 2009:

I loooove summer meals. I can cook outdoors, and there's so much in season, delicious produce around to make them taste wonderful!

Cheryl Kohan from England on May 19, 2009:

This is a wonderful example of how to create a page linking to other related pages. Wow...I sure did learn something today. Just not sure I can pull it off with such finesse. You are a real pro. I love this lens. I've read it all; now I have to go back and click on all the links because I want those recipes!

anonymous on May 18, 2009:

Great Lens! I am thinking of trying the Hawaiian Potato Salad Recipe for a family reunion coming in June. Wish me luck :)

HenryE LM on May 14, 2009:

I'll have to try some of these out!Henrywww.geothermalexperts.net

Heather Burns from Wexford, Ireland on May 13, 2009:

What a great lens! Yours are all beautiful, I'm inspired.

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on May 11, 2009:

I love this lens and your recipes. "The Ants Go Marching Ten by Ten" was such a clever addition as is all the neat products. The red and white china is my favorite.

Lou165 from Australia on May 11, 2009:

Another fantastic lens Brenda, I love, love, love the ant salt and pepper shakers a great find.

tandemonimom lm on May 10, 2009:

Welcome to Best Tips for Homemakers - you're a featured lens!

Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on May 09, 2009:

These foods and dishes would make such a lovely banquet!

papawu on May 09, 2009:

Wow, this is one heck of a lens. So much food to choose from. Wonderful job.

squid-janices7 on May 09, 2009:

Great photos - I love the condiments on ice serving tray. I'm so tired of the cold...I can't wait for summer and some yummy summery foods like brats and potato salad!

bdkz on May 09, 2009:

WOW, what a great lens! Mmmmmmm

Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on May 09, 2009:

Great ideas for a summer picnic. I've lensrolled this to Old Black Fly who would be delighted to join the ants for lunch.

Dianne Loomos on May 09, 2009:

Very nice looking and well laid out lens. I love the beautiful and unusual products offered here. The recipes look fabulous!

tandemonimom lm on May 09, 2009:

Wow, this just makes me long for a hot July day and a parade! Wonderful!

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on May 09, 2009:

Wow! This lens is a masterpiece. What a great compilation! I love your recipe selections, love the red gingham and the ants, even love the Rocket Moms template. Beautiful and tasty, too. Who could ask for anything more?!

Robin S from USA on May 09, 2009:

Wonderful collection of recipes! Very nicely done!

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