It’s no secret that feeding ourselves and the ones we love isn’t cheap. I’m always surprised by how much a bag or two of groceries can hit the wallet. I want to stretch those dollars as far as possible while still eating food that I love. In the summer I capitalize on the abundant produce that is finally in-season, as well as less expensive cuts of meat. Of course, when it comes to summer, you know that I’m not turning on the oven. The grill is a girl’s best friend.
For large cuts of meat, such as pork shoulder or flank steak, a marinade to tenderize and add flavor is all that’s needed. Ground chicken, pork, and beef are also affordable options that shine on the grill. We’ll use these for grilled meatballs and burgers, which only need a few condiments to complete the meal.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it’s a really really good idea to have a meat thermometer no matter how long you’ve been grilling. It takes the guesswork (and stress!) out of cooking meat.
Sticky-Sweet and Savory Pork Skewers
Do like they do in the Philipines and make these irresistible pork skewers for your next party. Look for marbled pork shoulder and pork belly for these meaty skewers. Elizabeth Ann Quirino says “If you can’t find banana ketchup, use tomato ketchup. Calamansi juice can be swapped for lemon juice.”
Grilled Portobello Mushroom Pizzas
Individual pizzas are given a fun twist by replacing the crust with a portobello mushroom. No rolling pin required. Serve with a green salad and garlic bread.
Grilled Skewered Meatballs
There are many ways to cook meatballs, and grilling them is an underrated method. Ground beef seasoned with a bevy of spices, skewered, and grilled, is a quick and inexpensive dinner. Make sure to use flat skewers to keep them from spinning on the grill.
Mojo Marinated Grilled Pork Kebabs
You won’t be able to stop eating these skewers. The pork shoulder is bathed in a citrusy mojo marinade (popular in Hispanic cooking) and layered on skewers with chunks of bell peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, and pineapple. These only take 10 minutes to cook but allow 2 hours to marinate beforehand.
Smoked Chicken Wings
Chicken wings are a quintessential crowd-pleaser. Cooked low and slow, the smoke from cherry wood adds extra flavor. You don’t need a dedicated smoker to smoke these wings. You can create a makeshift smoke box with a foil pouch and cook on indirect heat.
Grilled Carrot Dogs
You read that right, yes a grilled whole carrot takes the place of a beef hot dog in this recipe. The secret? Basting the carrots with a combination of yellow and dijon mustard. This is not only an inexpensive option for vegans and vegetarians, but it tastes much better than the plant-based hot dogs I’ve eaten.
Grilled Chili Lime Flank Steak
Flank steak is a tougher and thinner cut of beef than other marbled steaks. But don’t let that stop you from grilling it! Add a flavorful marinade like this one of garlic, lime juice, and chili powder. Let it sit for 2 hours before grilling. 1 1/2 pounds easily feeds 3 to 4 people.
Herb Chicken Burgers
Ground chicken is a lean, inexpensive meat. Mix it with an egg, breadcrumbs, and seasonings and form into patties for the ultimate chicken burger. Use an instant read thermometer to keep from overcooking and drying out.
Grilled Fish Tacos with Strawberry Pineapple Salsa
I’m always delighted watching the cost of strawberries plummet, while their flavor skyrockets in summer. Make the most of these juicy berries by making a bright salsa to top fish tacos. Prices on cod are usually better than halibut or salmon in my experience but any of them will work here.
Foil Packs with Sausage, Corn, Zucchini and Potatoes
Whether on the grill or over an open fire, foil packets are the all-in-one meal I’m looking for during summer. I love that these use precooked sausages and inexpensive vegetables. Make sure to use heavy duty foil and avoid a big mess.
Citrus-Brined Grilled Pork Chops
A simple citrus brine is the secret to these grilled boneless pork chops. It tenderizes and adds another layer of flavor. Look for pork chops that are about 1/2 inch thick and grill until the internal temperature is 145 degrees.
BBQ Chicken on the Grill
Bone-in, skin-on, chicken legs and thighs don’t cost a fortune and they hold up really well on the grill. Basting BBQ sauce on the chicken while it cooks keeps it even more tender and adds a lot of flavor. Choose your favorite sauce and remember to keep the grill from getting too hot and over-charring the chicken.
Grilled Vegetable Nachos
Let the garden help stretch your dollars, while adding flavor to a pile of cheesy nachos. The vegetables are grilled, chopped, and then added to a pan of chips and cheese. Bake the nachos in a high oven and serve with salsa.
Grilled Mushroom Swiss Burger
Mushrooms and onions are inexpensive and make mouthwatering toppings to take an average burger to a stunner. Dried mushrooms add an extra savory element but you could substitute breadcrumbs if desired.
Beer Can Chicken
I’m not sure it gets any easier than setting a whole chicken on top of a beer can and letting it cook on the grill. The crispy skin and tender meat speaks for itself. Cut it into pieces or make shredded chicken sandwiches with BBQ sauce. You could also use a soda can instead of beer can if you prefer.
Arrachera (Grilled Mexican Flank Steak)
Arrachera is what flank steak goes by in Mexico, and it’s a cut that’s made for marinating and grilling. Serve it as-is or in taco form as vampiros, so named because of the way the corn tortillas curl up on the cooling grill to resemble vampire bats.
Frozen Pizza on the Grill
Grilling does not get more affordable or less complicated than this. The crust gets incredibly crisp, plus the pizza develops a nice smoky flavor.