5 No-Heat Meals That Will Save You Money This Summer

It’s hard to justify using heat to cook when it only makes you lose money, and time, so read on for some great no-heat meals to make now.

This summer, try preparing no-heat meals to save money on air conditioning and expensive foods that require heat. Using your stove and oven in the summer can release extra heat into your home — the last thing you want during the warmest months. This extra heat means turning up your air conditioning, resulting in extra expenses. Even when grilling, the cost of coals or fuel can quickly add up.

If you want to avoid using heat to cook because it cuts into your comfort or your budget, read on for some great no-heat meals to make now.

1. Barbecue Chicken Sandwich

If you can’t stay away from meat, opt for a previously cooked option like rotisserie chicken because it’s easy to pick up from your local store. You can slice, pull or shred it to add protein to any no-heat dish. Additionally, a rotisserie chicken can serve four to five people for only $5. You can make a barbecue chicken sandwich using rotisserie chicken, store-bought barbecue sauce and pickled vegetables, like cucumbers, to create a hearty meal perfect for a quick dinner or lunch in the summer. Even if barbecue isn’t your thing, food website Delish has plenty of sandwich recipes that use rotisserie chicken. Bonus: All the components can be prepared ahead of time, making them perfect for picnics or travel.

2. Tomato Gazpacho

Summer is tomato harvesting season, so take advantage of the cheaper produce offerings with a refreshing tomato gazpacho. This cold soup is perfect because it’s vegetarian, low-calorie and has 10 or fewer ingredients. RealSimple.com has a version of gazpacho that features corn and cucumbers, two more staple summer vegetables. If you like, you can serve the gazpacho with garlic-rubbed crostini to add an element with contrasting texture.

3. Vegetable Salad With Peanut Butter Dressing

Salads are a great healthy option and the slightly decadent peanut butter dressing adds just the right amount of sweetness and richness to the dish. The Kitchn has a recipe for tofu and broccoli salad that also uses peanut butter dressing. The salad is so fun and colorful it might help persuade your kids to eat their vegetables. Some recipes call for baked tofu, but for a no-heat version of this dish you can use raw tofu. Opting for vegetarian meals will also help you cut costs, as tofu is cheaper than meat and just as versatile.

4. Unicorn Summer Rolls

One of the hottest trends right now is rainbow, or unicorn, food. From bagels to sushi to cake, people are making all their favorite foods colorful. No-heat unicorn summer rolls are perfect to make to keep up with trends while maintaining a budget. Today.com has a great version of this easy recipe. Fresh, seasonal produce can be inexpensive, and it’s easy to chop and shred everything on your own. Plus, a key ingredient, rice paper wrappers, are only 10 cents each. With their color and veggies, these rolls are fun for everyone and filling enough for an affordable summer lunch.

5. Picnic in a Glass

One of the greatest summer pastimes is having a picnic. Nothing beats heading to the beach or park with friends to enjoy fresh air and a flavorful meal. A “Picnic in a Glass” is an ideal no-heat dish to bring to a real picnic, or enjoy from the comfort of your own home. Made in a mason jar, this dish is convenient and pre-portioned, which makes serving and cleanup a breeze. If you’re looking for a recipe, MyRecipes.com has an easy one. A tangy yogurt dressing adds dimension to leftover or store-bought shredded chicken. Load the jar up with vegetables to complete your no-heat meal.

While shopping for ingredients for these no-bake summer meals, consider using rewards cards for extra value. There are plenty of great grocery store rewards cards but they often require decent credit. Before applying, see where you stand. You can check two credit scores for free at Credit.com.

Image: Geber86

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Hey, Lazy Lunchers: The Default Tip on Your Seamless Orders May Have Gone Up

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Love Seamless? If so, you may have spotted a new change to the food delivery service’s tip mechanism.

The company has quietly increased some users’ default tip from 15% to 20% as part of a test. On top of that, the custom tip field, where users can enter their tip amount of choice, now requires users to click the wording in order to open the box. It is also positioned in the top right corner, unlike before.

I wondered what had prompted the change. Had restaurants complained to the company that customers like me weren’t tipping enough? I decided to get on the horn with Meghan Gage, manager of public relations for GrubHub, the Chicago-based owner of Seamless, to find out.

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Seamless’ new tip mechanism sets the default to 20%.

According to Gage, Seamless is always iterating its online service for user experience, and the change that I noticed is part of that. The test, as she called it, began in recent weeks.

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A screenshot of Seamless’ older tip mechanism.

I asked if restaurants had complained about customers’ tips, to which Gage replied that they hadn’t. “We’re not seeing restaurants complaining,” she said. The company is only concerned with “making it easier to find food you love … we’re constantly iterating.”

She added, “When we roll out a new feature that’s a permanent part of the experience, for example our Future Order function or the addition of Apple Pay, we share these exciting updates with our diners.”

While there is something to be said for tipping delivery people fairly — and I don’t blame Seamless for trying to make its experience more, well, seamless — the change serves as a reminder to review your payment page carefully. A few bucks here and there can really add up, and the last thing you want is to hamper your dinner budget.

[Full disclosure: This reporter uses Seamless roughly three days a week. You can learn more about cutting your lunch budget here and see how your Seamless habit has been affecting your finances by viewing a free credit snapshot on Credit.com.]

Image: Antonio_Diaz

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11 Easy, Tasty Lunches Under $2

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Recipes for Easy, Tasty Lunches Under $2

Want to eat lunch for about $500 a year? Maybe you’d like to reduce the amount of money you spend on meat? How about eating seasonally? If so, don’t just stop at lunch. Here’s a guide for how to eat for just $6 a day.

Remember, if you’re looking for creative ways to save money, it’s good to start with a budget. Strictly adhering to a budget plan will allow you to eventually start saving money, pay down billsconsolidate debt and reach your financial goals. A sound management plan can also efficiently subsidize your food budget plan for alleviating debt.

Here are some of our favorite recipes that can help you save money:

More Money-Saving Reads:

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