247Moms Frugal Living Editor
May is National Barbeque Month, and along with the warmer weather, this theme for may will get you into the outdoor-cooking mood. How can we barbeque to suit our budgets and our health? The secret to memorable, tasty barbeque meals is to utilize cheaper, healthy ingredients (eggs, potatoes, rice) in new, creative ways.
Food Preparation Tips: A healthy meal begins with being aware of safe food preparation. The National Barbeque Association has a page which details cooking temperatures for a variety of foods. There are also recipes and meal side ideas here:
Once you’re aware of safety precautions, it’s time to plan the meal. Begin scouring the weekly grocery ads for sales on your favorite meats. Buy a few more condiments, meats, and sides ingredients when they are on sale during upcoming holiday weekends. Once the holiday is over, be on the lookout for clearance sales.
When meat/seafood is on sale, buy an extra or two to keep on hand for last minute barbeque cravings. This will save on last-minute “full price” buys and extra, costly trips to the store. Save on time by tossing meat you’ve bought in bulk into a freezer bag with your favorite sauce or marinade. When you’re ready to barbeque, take the meat out the night before. It will marinate as it thaws.
Consider vegetables as a healthy barbequing choice. Eggplant, peppers, asparagus, pineapple, tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms, zucchini, onions, squash, and corn are delicious marinated, barbequed meal “salads”. Experiment with homemade marinades – yum!
Slow-cooker beans and potato dishes are frugal, tasty barbeque meal components. During hot weather days, with a slow-cooker, you can cook your sides without adding heat to the house. Start with the dry legumes, soak the night before, simmer all day – and a delicious meal will be ready to enjoy alongside your barbeque entrée. Make Buffalo wings, on the cheap with bulk chicken wings, a slow cooker and your favorite sauce. The same goes for chicken pieces, which can be easily breaded and baked.
Rice is also another barbeque favorite – and meal meat stretcher. Choose a theme for your meal, whether it be Mexican or southern – and make a creative rice dish. Pasta dishes are frugal delights when made with some fresh vegetables and oils. Fruit salads, or simply sliced fruit, can be a meal side or a healthy dessert. Top with vanilla ice cream o r fresh whipping cream.
Barbeque isn’t just for lunch. Summer-themed sandwiches can be made with barbequed ingredients. When you’re cooking for dinner, remember tomorrow’s lunch! Chips, soup, and potato salad go great with a barbequed sandwich.
For vegetables, cheeses, or meat, a variety of tools can be used. Bamboo sticks (soaked first), foil bags (or packets made from rolled foil), grilling baskets, and metal skewers help cook the food just right. Grilling and barbequing vegetables doesn’t take long – so keep an eye on them.
Add fun to your barbeque: Split the cooking, and the good time with another family or two – and each bring your part of the meal. Add some outdoor games, a fun project, and some good conversation – you’ll be looking forward to more “eating-out” occasions!