I wilt in the heat. Maybe it’s because I don’t live in very hot weather the majority of the year and my body doesn’t have much time to adjust. Regardless, this wilt-in-the-heat lady lives in a house now with no AC and very bad air-flow, which is an unfortunate combination.

While we work to keep the house reasonably cool despite those factors, there have been times already this summer where our house has reached the upper 80s and has been pretty unbearable.

It’s tempting to simply eat all of your meals out, but really that’s not in our budget, and it’s hard to find really good food out on a budget. So I put together some ideas on how to stay cool and eat well at the same time.

Take advantage of summer’s bounty

Much of summer’s produce is both cooling and hydrating. Think cold watermelon, juicy tomatoes, and refreshing berries. On a really hot day, stick the fruit in the freezer for a super-cooling treat that takes very little work! (Check out the many delicious popsicle recipes on mnn.com too!) Cucumbers, greens, and other vegetables also can be delicious with no or little cooking when prepared in a yummy way, and really do seem to help keep you cool.

Eat outdoors

If you also don’t have AC, I’ve found that eating outdoors under the shade of a tree in a preferably forest-y area is much more comfortable. One very hot day, I loaded up our lunch, snacks and lots of water, and headed to a nearby park that contained plenty of trees and shade. Not only is the shade cooling, but the type of natural plants that grew under the trees retain moisture, making it a cool place to be. We stayed there for four hours — a record for us! If you have a well-shaded backyard, then even easier! Picnics at parks, the beach or mountains can bring a welcome relief from the glare of the sun.

Eat your heavy meals earlier in the day

While it’s important to continue to get good nutrition all year long, really warm weather can take away your appetite. Eating your heartier meals early in the day can really help ensure you are well nourished, plus it’s not so hot to work in your kitchen earlier in the day.

Use your slow cooker

Putting a meal in the slow cooker saves you from needing to heat up the kitchen later in the day. Put it in your basement or on the porch to keep it even cooler in the house.

Make smoothies

When I am too hot and tired to cook or eat, I’ve found making smoothies helpful in getting something in our stomachs, refreshing us, and they are simple to make.

Just buy part of your meal out

During our recent 90-degree-plus week, I sometimes grabbed a box of cooked organic white rice for the girls and then made a salad, and open a can of high-quality seafood for our dinner. Super simple and definitely not fancy, but certainly not as expensive as eating our whole meal out. Combining simple at-home recipes with a few “take-out” items could save you money, time, and make eating at home (preferably in the shade) more enjoyable.

Sleep during the heat; eat dinner at 7 or later

In some countries where it is common for it to be uncomfortably hot during the afternoon, they have long traditions of sleeping during the afternoon and then eating a late dinner once it has cooled down. While not all schedules would allow this, if you can swing it, a nap and a late dinner would be wonderful during the hot weeks.

Those are on my tips for eating well during the summer with no AC. I’d love to hear yours too!

7 ways to eat well, stay cool, and save money this summer
It's tempting to eat out when your house is uncomfortably hot, but there are ways to eat well without going to a restaurant.