Get summer-ready with cook-ahead and speedy recipes
The great British BBQ
We British love a barbecue. Who doesn't enjoy burgers, bangers and kebabs served with lots of sides and salads (and a healthy dollop of ketchup)? But if you're ready to step up your barbecue repertoire (and avoid a last-minute dash to the shops in the sunshine), it's time to prep ahead. Make and freeze burgers, then defrost them in the fridge 24 hours before the big cook out. For a last-minute treat, try these easy chicken burgers.
Picnics and days out
Warm, sunny days see us flocking outside for some well-earned vitamin D. Avoid peckish walks and hangry cycle rides, or buying supermarket snacks at the seaside, by packing a picnic. Follow the links below for easy picnic snacks, dips and sandwiches.
Fruity last-minute and prep-ahead treats
British summer fruit brightens up even the sunniest of days. Prep jugs of smoothies in advance, so you can start the day right. If you're entertaining, make meringue a few days ahead and keep it in an airtight container, then top it with piles of strawberries, raspberries or cherries, or make a summer pudding a day in advance and stash it in the fridge. For the ultimate prep-ahead dessert, keep a tub of homemade berry ice-cream in the freezer – or for a quick and easy treat, whip up a fruit fool.
Exotic fruits conjure up far-flung sunny destinations, even when it's pouring with rain. So what if you're not jetting off to the Bahamas? Fruit that has travelled a long way to get here, such as mangoes and pineapples, is often picked before its prime, so it can be best to buy it a few days before you need it. Transform your passion fruit, bananas, mangoes, pineapples and limes into prep-ahead puds, such as mango sorbet, tropical Eton Mess or panna cotta with pineapple.
If your haul of fruit is soon to be past its best, chop it up and freeze it in bags so that you can make smoothies when the sun's shining.
Last-minute and prep-ahead veg treats
Local seasonal veg tastes best when it's crisp, fresh and eaten al fresco, so there's good reason to get excited for the season's haul. Whip up salads such as this fennel and beetroot slaw in advance and dress them at the last minute.
These kale, pea and ricotta fritters and beetroot veggie burgers are ideal for stashing in the fridge ready to cook. When time is tight, a traybake such as this salmon, broccoli and bean traybake makes a great summer treat. Soups, such as this spinach and egg soup, are a quick and easy way to use up veg, and can be stored in the fridge.
Grill peppers and store them in a jar or in the fridge ready to add a luxurious touch to salads or stock up on jarred marinated or grilled vegetables. Try this roasted red pepper and artichoke salad.
Get your freezer stocked up for sweltering weekends by making ice cream. Whether you're a fan of traditional flavours, zingy and refreshing sorbets or new flavours that you probably can't get from the local ice cream van, you'll find a recipe here.
Summer cocktails and mocktails
From mojitos, sangria and Pimm's to watermelon coolers and classic elderflower cordial, summer drinks are very special. They can make or break a BBQ, garden party or picnic, so it's crucial to get your drinks offering right. Fresh fruit and herbs feature heavily in our sensational sipping suggestions! The best way to get prepped for summer cocktails is by slicing up limes, lemons and oranges to freeze and add to drinks when needed. Blueberries, raspberries, grapes and pineapples also make fantastic edible alternatives to ice cubes.