By: Charlestien Harris
It’s grilling season! Whether you enjoy a nice, juicy burger with all the fixings, a skewer full of grilled goodies, or a mouth-watering rack of ribs, you can save money and enjoy a great meal at the same time.
Grilling is a fantastic way to make dinner, but it can get expensive. Most of us know that we can save money by cooking at home, but do you also know how a grill helps you maximize those savings during the summer months? Every meal you grill doesn’t have to include a ribeye steak, but you can save yourself time and money with these quick grilling tips. Let’s take a look at a few suggestions that will help you make the most of your grilling skills and save you money at the same time.
- Choosing the right grill is key. Charcoal or gas is the question that you may be asking yourself. Choosing a grill that will personally save you money depends a lot on how you plan to use it. If you only intend to cook out on occasion, charcoal is the way to go. If you plan on using your grill as an additional kitchen appliance, even grilling during the winter months, a gas grill would suit your needs. The more you use your grill, the more cost-effective it becomes. If you are in the market for a new grill, the fall is often a great time to buy grilling and smoking hardware.
- Try using cheaper cuts of meat. Take advantage, when you find them, of bargains in meat, poultry, and seafood. Avoid pricier cuts of beef by choosing well-marbled cuts of chuck, such as flat-iron steaks, boneless chuck ribs, or maybe a filet or sirloin cut. Put pork on the menu instead of beef. You can also choose chicken legs, thighs, leg quarters, or wings instead of the often higher-priced chicken breasts. Turkey is a relative bargain this time of year too; check the frozen food aisle for legs, breasts, etc. Seafood can be expensive as well, so try to cook them kabob-style, which uses less meat and more vegetables.
- Making your own rubs and sauces is cost-effective. I encourage you to try making your own rubs, marinades, flavor-enhancing compound butters, and sauces. You can spice up your meat and veggies and save money by making your own tasty marinades and rubs. Most take very little time to prepare, often using ingredients like olive oil, pepper, and Dijon mustard that you may already have in your cupboards and fridge. This is one that I actually do myself. I take a regular bottle of barbecue sauce and add my favorite spices, and I also make my own marinades. It’s not hard, but if you need help, there are plenty of recipes available to assist you along the way. Also, don’t forget the magic that can be created with salt and pepper alone.
- Saving on your electricity bill is a plus. You can possibly save money on your electricity bill by getting out of your kitchen this summer and firing up the grill. Cooking outside is a big plus for homeowners interested in earning some energy savings. By cooking outside, you avoid heating your kitchen during the summer and making the air conditioner run more than necessary. Using natural sunlight also lowers light bulb usage in your kitchen. After you’ve come outside to light the grill, try to stay outside. You allow warm air into your house every time you open your door. The less you open your door, the better.
- Don’t light more charcoal or wood than you’ll need. A typical charcoal product lasts about 2-3 hours. So before you light the grill, you should prepare the food. If you start the grill and wait for the food to be ready, it wastes valuable time and costly energy, and it may cause you to use more charcoal than you need. I suggest that you wash and cut your vegetables, season your meats, and skewer your kabobs in the kitchen, take them outside, and then fire up your grill. If you have some charcoal left once the food’s ready, shut down the vents to extinguish the fire. You can also choose to use the leftover unused coals to fuel your next cook as a cost-saving measure.
Summer is the season for lots of fun things: pool parties, flip-flops, outdoor events, and eating outside from the grill. Grilling without breaking the bank is possible if you plan your menu carefully and follow some simple steps to save money at the same time.
If you read the article above, you are now armed with the knowledge of how to make the best use of your grill during the summer and throughout the year. I hope sharing these helpful tips about grilling will shed some light on how budgeting is an essential part of making sure that your money is always being used to accomplish your financial goals.
For more information on this and other financial topics, you can email me at Charlestien.Harris@banksouthern.com or call me at 662-624-5776.
Until next week — stay financially fit!
Charlestien Harris is a financial contributor to DeSoto County News. She is a financial expert with Southern Bancorp Community Partners whose articles are seen in a number of publications around the region. You’ll be seeing her columns weekly on the DeSoto County News website and our social media channels.