In the United States, almost 50% of consumers whose jobs have been affected ̵1; or who are paid less – are as a result pandemic, still plan to cook outdoors often when summer hits.
This is according to a report from the NPD group, which is one of the largest market research companies in the world. The purpose of this report, entitled The Impact of COVID-19 on Outdoor Grilling, is to take a look at how people are thinking about grilling this season.
Since it is obvious that people whose work has been affected by the pandemic are still planning to cook outdoors, we wanted to take a deep dive into what the cheapest foods and meals are to grill, according to experts.
That way, those who have a tighter budget can still get their barbecue going strong this summer. Check out these six tips from nutrition experts to help you decide what is worth cooking when your money is tight.
Avoid super expensive cuts of meat – and learn which substitutes are best
If you are a grilling enthusiast, you are probably well aware of which types of meat and protein tend to be more expensive.
“Filet mignon and sirloin are expensive, especially when you go for grass-fed varieties,” says Amy Shapiro, MS, RD founder of Real Nutrition NYC.
Shapiro adds: “Everything organic will be more expensive. In addition, anything that is boned or skinless will be more expensive. In the case of shellfish, shellfish (lobster, shrimp, scallops), halibut and tuna or salmon can all be expensive, especially if they caught wild. ”
If you have a budget, these are the ones to avoid.
Fortunately, cheaper cuts such as flat iron steak and flank steak are just as good. Ditto grilled mussels, which can be much cheaper than other seafood.
Compare price tags when shopping
Just because you can not afford more expensive protein for grilling this summer does not mean that you still can not cook with other, more cost-effective pieces of meat.
Here are some more affordable cuts, along with tasty recipes, for grilling this summer:
Usually cheaper than chicken breasts, chicken thighs are delicious when cooked on the grill. For a recipe idea, try the grilled chicken thighs with a delicious soy marinade. They only take 25 minutes from start to finish. You can also make chicken skewers from thigh meat.
Also more affordable than your boneless inserts, chicken wings are worth considering when shopping for things to grill. If you decide to go this route, you must try these lightly grilled buffalo wings. Once you have taken them off the stove, you will feel like you are eating out at your favorite wing spot.
Another cheaper piece of meat is pork chop, Shapiro explains. To make your regular grilled pork chop feel more gourmet, check out this grilled pork chop recipe with fresh plum sauce, this Tuscan grilled pork chop recipe or this grilled teriyaki pork chop recipe.
Shapiro says that chuck beef, which is a beef that is part of the sub-prime cut called “chuck”, is also a more cost-effective meat for grilling. You can use the chuck steak as it is, or you can buy ground chuck to make burgers. (Or grind your own if you have a tripod mixer with a suitable attachment.)
It will probably not shock you that sausages are on our list of cheaper meats. Test CNET’s sister site Chowhounds Spiral Grilled Sausages to make “the best hot dogs ever.” And experimenting with new hot dog toppings beyond simple mustard to make them more gourmet.
Go for grill-friendly meat options
If you’re okay with giving up meat altogether – but still want to grill something that’s stuffed and protein-packed, “tofu and tempeh can be cheap vegetarian options,” says Oz Garcia, a New York-based nutritionist.
To grill tofu, prepare a medium hot grill. Then brush the grill with oil and let your tofu cook for one and a half to 2 minutes per side, or until grill marks appear. Then remove from the heat and serve with any additional marinade, seasoning or sauce you want.
“Extra solid tofu can be marinated in a vinaigrette dressing with added herbs and garlic and then grilled with onions, zucchini, carrots and other vegetables,” says Rochelle Sirota, a NYC-based nutritionist. Or try ours
When preparing tempeh, which is a traditional Indonesian food made from fermented soybeans, you may want to steam it for 15 minutes first to avoid bitter taste.
When grilling it, it is usually recommended that you marinate it first. Tempeh works a lot like tofu in that you can pretty much season or taste it however you want. Then, when you have it on a medium hot grill surface, cook it on each side for 2 to 3 minutes.
Veggie burgers are also a good staple when grilling out affordable. “Veggie burgers are served with fresh, seasonal accompaniments screaming ‘summer,'” says Sirota.
Sirota adds: “After grilling, place them on top of a salad or on a sprouted wholemeal burger bun and top with mustard, tahini and lemon juice – and serve with a side of cabbage slaw.”
Vegetables are your friend – and more versatile than you think
You’ve probably made vegetable skewers on the grill before. Now that you’re cooking more affordable, it’s time to get even more creative when using vegetables on your next barbecue.
“All meat, including fish and poultry, is more expensive than fruits and vegetables, says Pamela Bonney, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND, co-founder, Tried and True Nutrition, Inc. “Fortunately, vegetables, such as portobello mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini and summer squash. are all really good for the barbecue in the summer. ”
No matter what vegetables you choose to throw “on barbie”, as the Australians say, there are some cooking techniques to keep in mind.
“Before grilling, brush or spray the vegetables with a hint of avocado oil or olive oil,” says Sirota. “After grilling, top them with a sprig of rosemary or a leaf or two of other fresh herbs, such as coriander or basil.”
See more tips on fantastic grilled vegetables.
Think outside the box
Jackie Newgent, RDN, chef, nutritionist and author of The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook, recommends thinking outside the box when grilling veggie-centered meals.
“Don’t just think of meat for the grill,” says Newgent. “Think of unique meal ideas that have seasonal vegetables, such as grilled eggplant gyros or even grilled hummus quesadillas topped with a fresh Mediterranean-style salsa.” Try these two recipes the next time you light the grill.
- Grilled hummus quesadilla: “Fill tortillas with hummus and an optional pinch of sumac. Then fold, brush with extra virgin olive oil and grill on both sides until grill marks form … about 5 minutes in total,” says Newgent. “Then cover with a fresh salsa made with thinly sliced grape tomatoes, scallions, fresh mint, olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt.”
- Eggplant gyros: “Brush slices of eggplant with extra virgin olive oil and season generously with a mixture of sea salt, black pepper, garlic and onion powder, dried oregano, dill, rosemary and cayenne pepper. Serve in pocketless pitas with sliced tomatoes, red onions and fresh mint leaves. Start with tzatziki sauce or a homemade lemony tahini sauce, “says Newgent. (This simple flatbread recipe is a great cover for these, too.)
You can also make an affordable dessert on the grill
When it comes to meal courses, this category is appropriate last but definitely not least. We give you: desserts on the grill.
For an affordable, fun dessert idea, “place cut fruit halves (apricots, plums, peaches or sliced pineapple rings) face down on the grill for a few minutes. Then turn to grill the other side and drizzle with some honey, or agave or maple syrup,” says Bonney. “Then give it a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and serve!”
For more ideas, check out Chowhound’s Heat and Sweet Cooking Guide, which will introduce you to the simple joys of grilling desserts outdoors.
This story was originally written by Anna Hecht for Chowhound.