Down the street from my house and around the corner is a small neighborhood meat market. Every Monday, they get their fresh shipment of butcher meats in, and the first thing we do is go down and buy one of the freezer meat packs. With prices like $59.99 for over 40 pounds of different types of meats, including chicken, pepper bacon, porch chops, ribeye, T-bone, sirloin and roast, you can’t beat buying the freezer packs and tossing them in the deep freeze.
So once per week, on a Sunday afternoon when the weather is nice, we’ll fire up the grill, spend the afternoon outside while working in the yard and playing basketball and fetch and Frisbee, and cook up a week’s worth of grilling meats in one session. We’ll then package these mostly-cooked meats in foil and/or plastic and stick them in the fridge. This way, all during the week we have char-grilled meat with the flavor of outdoor and all we have to do it reheat it in a pan.
Outdoor Grilling Saves Money and Time
Not only do we get good food for dinner, but it saves time and effort, makes cooking dinner faster during the week, and it also saves money. In fact, it saves money in three different ways: 1) we buy the meat in bulk and get a discount, 2) it’s cheaper than eating out (by a lot) and 3) we don’t have to fire up the oven and cook for hours. The added bonus there is also that during the heat of the summer, we don’t heat up the house either!
If you’re new to grilling or just inexperienced or want a refresher course so you can consider doing the same thing and save your family some money and time too, this article is just for you.
Let’s look at some grilling tips and techniques for summer BBQ fun in the sun with the family right in your own backyard!
Getting Started Grilling: Grilling / BBQ Basics
First, I’ll refresh you with the basic course in grilling tips by directing you to my article on Grilling Hints and Tips for Barbecue.
Next, let’s take it a step further and look at some advanced grilling techniques to change the flavor of your meat and foods and add more to the menu than just meat too!
Grilling / BBQ Tips for Flavor
If you want to try out a few different flavors to your foods cooked on the BBQ grill, consider using different types of fire fuel. For example, charcoal briquettes will have a very different flavor than wood. In fact, nowadays you can find charcoal in a variety of flavors itself, such as mesquite. These charcoal briquettes are soaked in special things to put off an aroma that rises in the smoke and goes through the food.
Personally, I’m partial to using real wood for grilling on the BBQ. I like cooking with pecan and mesquite, or a combination of both. If you cannot afford to purchase good quality wood for the grill, you can buy wood chips and use them with your charcoal or propane / gas grills.
Simply take the cheaper wood chips and soak them in water until they are fully saturated, and then include them on top of the coals once the flame has died down.
These wood chips, when wet, will burn extremely slowly and the wetness of them will cause them to steam and smoke, ensuring the food gets a good smoky flavor without drying it out.
If you can’t afford wood chips or flavored charcoal and you still want some flavor, consider buying a less expensive bottle of liquid smoke. It’s not nearly as good for charcoal smoky flavor of your meat and it is a chemical additive to your food, but you can purchase a bottle for a little under two dollars.
Grilling / BBQ Tips for Sauces
BBQ sauce is a staple in grilling, but too many people depend on it too much and slather it on the meat and slather it on way too soon too. Sauces should not be added to the meat until after the final turn and then should only be cooked for a few minutes on each side to singe the sauce unto the meat. Putting sauce on the meat too soon will result in burnt sauce, giving the meat a ‘burnt’ taste instead of the charred grilled taste the meat should have. Also, the heat and flame will cook the flavor out of the sauce.
There are other sauces besides BBQ sauce to try though. McCormick makes some really great grilling sauces from Thai flavors for sausages and pork and chicken to lemon pepper sauces to garlic sauces and the more traditional mesquite and BBQ sweet and tangy sauces. Try a variety of different sauces to give your meat a completely different flavor.
Grilling / BBQ Tips for Vegetables
Grilling isn’t just for the carnivores among us. Vegetables are great on the grill, and you can cook them in a variety of ways. Corn and baked potatoes have long been wrapped in foil and dropped into the coals to cook them once the flame has died down, but don’t forget to put the spices, butter and an ice cube inside the foil to keep them moist and trap the steam inside.
If you’re more adventurous with your veggies, cut them into thick, long strips and skewer them and when the grill has finally cooled down from the meat cooking, lay the skewers on top of the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side and remove. You’ll get those fantastic grilling markets like the flame-grilled vegetables served in great steak houses, and you’ll get some fantastic flavors to the veggies too.
Some suggestions of grilling vegetables include: zucchini, squash, bell pepper (in all colors), pearl onions, new potatoes, and green onions.
Grilling / BBQ Food Means Good Eatin’, Ya’ll!
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your grill and BBQ foods and fuel. You’d be surprised how much fun it can be to save money and eat good foods cooked on your grill!