Cheap Grilling Ideas: 5 Tips From Master Griller Mark Bittman

It is summer and life is easy.
The American cookout is in season and savory staples such as hot dogs, hamburgers and corn on the cob are fried on grills nationwide.
Between beer, burger and potato salad, a garden grill can burn a hole directly in your wallet.
How can you save money this summer? We consulted an expert.
5 cheap barbecue ideas for summer
Mark Bittman, author of 20 books, including "How to Grill Everything", knows a grill. The former New York Times columnist gave us some tips on how to break the grill without breaking the bank.
1. Follow the basics when buying grill accessories
Aileen Perilla / The Penny Hoarder
Go along a grill or browse the grill items online and you'll be bombarded with a lot of expensive accessories.
But Bittman said the only accessories you really need are long tongs, an oven thermometer for the inside of the grill, and a propane tank or lump coal.
That means you can skip the filing brushes, rotisserie, grill brushes, trays, skewers, gloves and barbecue scissors.
How for corn cob holders? "I like to hold corn directly in my hands," said Bittman.
He is also a fan of sturdy baking trays and cast iron pans to bake and cook desserts on the grill. Fortunately, many kitchens already have these items.
2. Consider these factors when buying a grill
Aileen Perilla / The Penny Hoarder
Would you like to light the fire among enthusiastic barbecues? Ask them if they prefer a gas or charcoal grill. They are both pretty affordable in our book.
If you don't have a grill or accessories yet, score a few points during summer vacation sales.
The brand of a grill is less important than size and coverage, Bittman said. You want enough surface so that you can cook directly or indirectly over the fire.
"The lid should be at least slightly arched to create an oven-like environment," said Bittman.
For Bittman, it's really important to avoid open Hibachi or Santa Maria style grills. They have limited uses, so he advises staying away from them to get the best for your grill money.
3. Explore meatless options
Aileen Perilla / The Penny Hoarder
Spice it up with meatless food, especially if you are barbecuing for many guests.
"A great money-saving tip is to shift the balance of your grilled food to more vegetables and less meat," said Bittman.
For the reasonably priced griller, "you can't go wrong with main vegetable dishes."
He proposes main dishes such as chana chaat burgers that turn chickpeas and potatoes into curry patties, or spaghetti pumpkin with fresh tomato sauce because the sauce is "the perfect foil for the smoky pumpkin strands".
As for his favorite meatless grilling options? These are okra, winter squash, eggplants, carrots and radishes. Because protein, cheese, tofu and tempeh are all great in his book - cooked or smoked.
"To be honest, I can't imagine vegetables that can't be grilled," he said.
"How to Grill Everything" offers countless ideas for grilling main vegetables and side dishes.
4. Grind your own food and buy Bone-In
Chris Zuppa / The Penny Hoarder
Many pay extra for these pre-made patties and pre-packaged cuts. Not Bittman.
"Whenever it is possible for burgers, I try to grind my own meat - as well as poultry, chicken, fish, tofu or beans - in a food processor," he said. "This is the most economical."
Cheap meat grinders cost between $ 15 and $ 40, while a high-end meat grinder costs around $ 200. This could be a worthwhile investment, especially if you are aiming for expert grill status.
How for your non-burger meat? Chicken breast and pork chops are grill classics, but people often seem to forego bones.
"Bone-in cuts are always tastier when grilling than boneless, as it usually takes longer to cook through," said Bittman.
Bone-in cuts are generally cheaper everywhere, from supermarkets to butchers. They also add flavor and prevent the meat from drying out.
5. Don't let anything go to waste
Aileen Perilla / The Penny Hoarder
Kitchen waste is a big deal in our country. If you use everything you have, you can make big savings and delicious meals while grilling.
"Avoiding food waste is a top priority, so I always find a way to use stale bread," he said. "You can keep little things in the freezer until you have enough to make bread pudding with mushrooms."
The hearty and satisfying casserole can be prepared ahead of time and cooked on the grill. There is a whole world of unusual foods that you can grill to avoid food waste and liven up a back yard.
Now there is only one thing left to do: open a cold brew ski and enjoy the tradition of barbecuing outdoors.
BBQ, baby, grill.
Stephanie Bolling is a former employee of The Penny Hoarder.
This was originally posted on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide make and save money by sharing unique jobs, personal stories, freebies, and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder 2017 the fastest growing private media company in the U.S.

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