Looking for ways to eat well and spend less? Here are some favorite ways to grill while satisfying the most gourmet-minded diners – with enough cash left for dessert!
Meat your budget
First, look for cuts of meat that are less expensive. Use ground chicken or pork to make creative "burgers," rather than grilling chicken breasts or pork chops. Sausages and hot dogs are less expensive than most meats; sole and trout are less expensive varieties of fish.
Switch it up and save
Cut costs by skipping the meat altogether and opting for a creative vegetarian main dish. Marinate and grill tofu chunks and portabella mushrooms – they're hearty, filling alternatives to grilled meats.
If your barbecue isn’t complete without meat, try serving kebabs. You'll save by threading smaller pieces of meat and vegetables on skewers, while earning points for creative presentation.
Use store-bought sauces
Save money by opting for store-bought sauces and marinades rather than buying all the ingredients to make them yourself. Salad dressings are a great marinade, and classics like Old Bay seasoning, A-1 Steak Sauce and barbecue sauces are perennial favorites.
Our “Cheap Cuisine” menu
- Main course: Coriander and cinnamon-grilled chicken thighs
- Side dish: Potato salad with lemon, mint and feta cheese
- Dessert: Grilled pineapple slices
Grilling For Gourmands
Are you always up on the latest trends? Do you dine at the newest and best-rated restaurants, then try recreating those dishes at home? If so, you’re what we call a grilling gourmand. Try these ideas to satisfy your sophisticated taste buds.
Use herbs as cooking implements, like a sprig of fresh rosemary or thyme to brush on melted butter.
When making kebabs, strip the leaves off sprigs of rosemary and use the sprigs as skewers. (Freeze the rosemary leaves for later use.) As foods cook, they'll absorb the herb flavor.
Bypass the meat counter and explore other grilling options. Try fruits for salads or warm desserts, firm greens like radicchio and endive for earthy salads, or even thin slices of lemon – they're so soft and sweet that you can eat them straight from the rind after grilling.
Don’t be afraid to add global flavor. Balsamic vinegar, olive oil and dried herbs offer a taste of the Mediterranean, salsa verde transports you south of the border, and hoisin sauce is an ideal Asian accompaniment.
Grilling Gourmand menu
- Main course: Rack of lamb with garlic rosemary marinade
- Side dish: Grilled artichokes with melted butter and breadcrumbs
- Dessert: Grilled polenta cake with grilled strawberries or peaches
Grill it to perfection
Steak: Cook steaks to 125 degrees for rare, 135 degrees for medium rare and 145 for well done.
Chicken: Cook chicken to 150 degrees, then remove from grill or heat source and let rest. The carryover heat will raise the temperature to 155 degrees – perfect for tender, juicy chicken.
Fish: Hearty fish like salmon should be cooked to 130 degrees. Tender fish like tuna shouldn't be heated to more than 115 degrees.
Grilling Trip Tips
Tailgating, camping or grilling in the park? Think about how to make the menu work as you travel.
Weekend trip? Marinate and freeze a flank steak on Thursday. Pack it on ice in your cooler on Friday. By Saturday, it will have defrosted enough to be thrown straight on the grill without risk of bacteria. Store non-meat items in another cooler to prevent cross-contamination. Always set up food under shady trees.
Make sure to bring a large tapper of water and set it on a picnic table for washing hands or rinsing dishes. Don't forget dish soap, a sponge and plenty of storage containers for leftovers, too.
What are some of your tips for grilling on a budget?