You don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy your favorite grilling recipes. In fact, there are many cheap grilling ideas that you can use for a variety of meats. You’ll be surprised to learn that there are cheaper cuts of fish, chicken, and steak that are packing some serious flavor, you just need to know how to grill them right.
If spending all your cash on quality porterhouse cuts, opt for cheaper cuts such as flank steak or skirt steak, or bone-in chicken breast, all of which are very healthy. You can also choose chicken thighs, legs, drumsticks and save some serious cash. When you save $50 to $80 that would otherwise go toward a better cut of meat, you’ll find that you can grill more often during the week.
My cheap grilling ideas include:
- Cutting costs by using cheaper cuts of meat
- Make grilled pizza
- Make your own rubs, marinades, and sauces
- Homemade kebabs can really stretch how much meat you use, allowing you to feed more people
- Grill potatoes for a potato bar night
- Make it a vegetarian barbeque
- Make your own salads and skip the deli
- Invest in a barbeque grill that won’t have to be replaced every season.
- Get creative with hamburger patties and hot dogs
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Grilling On a Budget
As you can see, there are many options available that can help to cut down on costs so you can easily afford to grill often and for larger groups of people for a fraction of the prices you were paying last season.
If you’re mainly eating hot dogs and hamburgers during your cookouts, then you and your family will end up getting tired of this type of food pretty quickly. But if you’re on a tight budget then you can only afford the basics, there are plenty of ways you can enhance the flavor of your burgers. But how? Try getting a little creative by making your own hamburger patties with a blue cheese dressing, cut up bacon, and diced onions, mixing these ingredients into the patties before you grill.
Make your hot dogs taste better by splitting them lengthwise and pouring a little BBQ sauce over the top. You can also try chicken or turkey dogs, but most people usually stick with beef hot dogs because they’re packing more flavor.
If you’re using a cheaper cut of chicken such as the thigh, allow them to marinate overnight in order to enhance the flavor. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
Grill Larger Portions
When you’re planning meals for the week try grilling more food per meal than usual. This way, you’ll have leftovers that you can use for the following dinner. You can also save fuel costs by firing up the grill a single time to cook enough food for a few days. If you’re worried about the taste of the food when reheating, while it may not taste quite as good as freshly grilled meat, it’s definitely better than food cooked on the stove.
In order to reheat, make sure you liberally top the meat with marinade, barbecue sauce, or a little water, and wrap it carefully before you cook in the oven for 5 minutes. Your meat is still going to taste good the next day, but if you want to stretch it for an extra day or two, try using the meat in tacos, make a casserole or stir fry, or even add the grilled meat to a large salad.
Make Your Own Rubs, Sauces, and Marinades
While buying premade barbeque sauces, rubs, and marinades are super convenient, it can also be expensive, especially if you’re throwing a large backyard barbeque. So why not learn how to make it yourself? Making your own rubs is basically just mixing certain spices in a bowl. Most marinades and sauces have the same base which is tomato sauce. Add other ingredients such as peaches or mangoes, or garlic and onions and you’ll have a large batch of barbeque sauce that can last the entire grilling season if you freeze and defrost as needed.
Most people tend to waste a lot of fuel when they’re grilling, especially when it comes to the best portable charcoal grill. We often pour too much charcoal on our grills, but in reality, you don’t really need to use the whole bag of charcoal every time you grill. All you really need is around four pounds of charcoal to prepare a meal that can feed up to six people.
If you have a gas grill, and you’re slow-cooking meat, then you only need to set the grill on high for the first ten minutes the meat is on the grill, after which point you’ll turn it down and allow it to slow cook. When you’re finished cooking, double-check that you’ve shut the gas off completely. To learn more ways to prepare your barbeque fare, click here to read my guide on meats you can smoke.
The Butcher is Your New Best Friend
If you’re smart, you’ll make nice with your local supermarket butcher. These are the pros that can clue you in on upcoming sales so you can plan out what type of meat you’ll grill for the week. They will also tell you which cuts have great prices, which are usually the cuts that aren’t as popular.
Don’t Spend a Fortune on a New Grill
You don’t have to spend a few thousand dollars on a new grill. However, you do want to ensure that the grill you’re buying isn’t going to have to be replaced the following season. I recommend buying just enough grill for what your family uses. If you entertain a lot then you’ll need a model with a bigger grilling surface. The Cuisinart CGG-7400 Full Size Gas Grill is a great buy. It’s a model that’s affordable and one that provides enough space on the grill’s surface for you to multitask. Its sturdy construction also means it won’t easily tip over. Basically, this is a dependable option that will allow you to grill or smoke just about anything.
Ultimately, the grill you choose should be seen as an investment, so you want a model that will last as long as possible. But the grill’s longevity can also be affected by your care or lack thereof. You’ll want to ensure you clean the grill off thoroughly before and after use. Scrub off the surface of the grill to remove dried on meat and debris. If you take care of the grill properly, it can last year after year.
Other Grilling Options
The grilling season is all about bringing your family and friends together for good food and quality time and barbecues are the perfect way to do it. If you’re planning on hosting plenty of backyard events this season, but your budget is a concern, then there are plenty of great meal ideas you can try that can actually save you hundreds of dollars during grilling season.
A New Take on Hot Dogs
If you’re on a tight budget, then hot dogs are often the cheapest option. But if you’re creative and willing to go the extra mile to spice up an otherwise bland and boring grilling option, you can easily make your own gourmet hot dogs. Use different types of hot dogs or opt for some brauts. You can also make ballpark style dogs and make your own mayo and Sriracha sauce, complete with sauerkraut and pickled veggies. Add some guacamole, top with cheese, or use some homemade barbeque sauce.
Kebabs are also a great choice because you’ll use equal parts veggies and meat, so your meat will stretch further. Use veggies that are in season, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, and big chunks of onion, then add just a few pieces of meat. You can also use cheap cuts of meat for this purpose, such as flank steak or stew meat. A couple of pounds of stew meat and some fresh produce and you can easily feed up to eight people for a fraction of the price it would cost to grill up chicken breasts or a more expensive cut of beef.
Pizza on the Grill
While it may sound unusual, grilled pizza really is a thing. It tastes crispy and fresh, but it also happens to be a more affordable option compared to grilling steaks. You can purchase premade pizza dough or make your own. Then grill up your homemade pizza in a matter of minutes. You can get really creative with your toppings and use plenty of fresh in-season veggies to also cut down on costs.
If you really want to save a lot of cash on your next barbeque, then try a vegetarian or vegan grilling night. Obviously, the protein is the most expensive item on the menu when it comes to throwing together a barbeque. If you put together a menu that’s meat-free, you’ll easily save fifty to one hundred dollars or more, depending on how many people you’re feeding. Instead of making a meat steak, try grilling up a mushroom burger or a cauliflower steak. Grill up some fresh asparagus and corn on the cob. Slow roast some potatoes and create your own baked potato bar. You can also grill veggie kebobs, stuffed peppers, and so much more.
Make Your Own Side Dishes
If you have a busy nine-to-five job, kids, and a home to take care of, then hitting the deli and purchasing all the side dishes can be a real blessing, especially if you cooking for more than a few people. But as you already know, buying salads and side dishes at the deli can really add up. So, why not plan ahead and make your own macaroni salad, potato salad, green salad, coleslaw, and fruit salad? Making the side dishes yourself will also allow you to customize the ingredients so it complements the type of meat you’re grilling.
What’s a barbeque without appetizers? You can make simple, affordable appetizers such as chips and salsa, homemade guacamole, or garlic bread. This will help to keep your grilling costs down because your guests will fill up on these inexpensive appetizers instead of costly grilled meats.
What Can I BBQ for a Large Crowd?
You’ll have a number of options. You can slow cook a roast or brisket, grill up burgers and hotdogs, make kebabs, or grill up a few pizzas in no time at all.
What Meat is Best for Barbecue?
Everyone loves a good steak or grilled chicken breasts. You can also get creative and prepare gourmet hotdogs and stuffed hamburger patties. Slow cooking meat such as a whole chicken or a beef brisket is another option and one that can also save you some serious cash.
These cheap grilling ideas will allow you to feed a larger group of people for a fraction of the price you’re used to spending for your weekly backyard barbecue. Additionally, this will also allow you to entertain more often, so you can enjoy freshly grilled meats and veggies several days a week.
Just remember, making rubs, marinades, and sauces can really save you some serious cash. Making friends with your local butcher and choosing cheaper cuts can also save you a fortune during grilling season. By carefully planning your next barbeque and following the tips I’ve included here, you can enjoy grilling more often, while saving hundreds of dollars each season.