Money-Saving Grilling Tips

Grilling is the easiest (and tastiest!) way to create inexpensive meals this summer. Read on for tips on what to serve, and how to cook it for less

Here’s your secret weapon for savings this summer: the family barbecue. These easy ideas will help you make fast, nutritious meals that cost little but wow with big flavors.

1. Cook with cheaper proteins. Less expensive cuts of meat and fatty fish work well on the grill. Try some of these favorites.

  • Beef brisket - $6/pound
  • Chuck roast - $6/pound
  • Pork loin - $5.50/pound
  • Pork shoulder - $4.50/pound
  • Chicken drumsticks - $2.50/pound
  • Chicken thighs - $1.50/pound
  • Chicken wings - $3/pound
  • Perch - $6/pound
  • Sardines - $4.50/pound
  • Firm tofu - $4/pound

2. Eat your vegetables (and fruit). Summer’s bounty of vegetables is cheap and plentiful, especially bell peppers, zucchini and eggplant. They’re all delicious grilled, on their own or skewered with a protein (and there’s little waste -- you can scorch most of them and they still taste great). Stone fruits such as nectarines, peaches and plums are in season. Make desserts with them, or thread them on kebabs with pork.

3. Raid the pantry for marinade ingredients. There’s no need to buy fancy bottled sauces: You probably have everything you need in your pantry and fridge. For Asian-inspired flavor, whisk together equal parts soy sauce, vegetable oil, rice wine (or sherry), honey and a splash of sesame oil. After you’re finished marinating your protein, boil down the liquid to make a sauce.

4. Heat up for less. If you use a charcoal grill, instead of buying chemical-tasting lighter fluid, make a one-time investment in a chimney starter. The canister has better ventilation than the grill, so coals heat up quickly. If you use a large gas grill and you’re not cooking for a crowd, save fuel by lighting only a few burners.