Must-Have Grilling Tips to Stretch Your Budget & Make an Amazing Meal

February 20, 2019 | Food Lion
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Grilling is an easy, tasty way to fix up your favorite meats and spend time with your family outdoors on a nice warm spring or summer day. But, buying all of that meat for the grill gets expensive, right? Not necessarily. With some smart shopping habits and helpful grilling tips, you'll be whipping up low-cost, easy meals that will bring the spirit of summertime right to your backyard. Plus, by shopping at your local Food Lion, you can save on grilling essentials with our everyday low prices, MVP Hot Sales, coupons and more. 

Now, let’s take a look at our grilling tips to help stretch your budget and make a delicious meal for your family.

What Are the Best Types of Meat to Grill?

Ask any grilled meat-lover this question, and they might say "All of them!" However, a few types of meat fair better cooked over an open flame than others. When you're grilling, keep in mind that meat with some fat content cooks nicely. The reason being - the fat keeps the meat moist while it's over the high heat. But, don’t worry; these meats can still be a nutritious option for your family. That's because much of the fat drips off as the meat cooks. 

Marbled steaks turn out great on the grill — think ribeye, New York strip and sirloin. Dark-meat chicken also stays nice and moist.

Father & Son Grilling

What Are the Most Economical Meats for Grilling?

Near the traditional cookout holidays like Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day, check our weekly specials to see what's on sale. This is a good time to stock your freezer for future grilling opportunities. 

But, you don’t have to wait for a holiday to save. When you're ready to fire up the grill but want to be a little more budget-conscious, try these cuts of meat for the best savings:

  • Chicken thighs: These sections stay incredibly juicy on the grill, and they're often some of the lowest-cost cuts you can find. To keep the meat even more tender, go for skin-on thighs and drumsticks. Another great thing about chicken? Its mild flavor means it takes on marinades exceptionally well. Yum!

  • Burgers: Skip the lean beef here. Ground chuck is famously affordable, and it also stays nice and juicy when cooked over a flame. One helpful tip: crack an egg into your ground chuck before forming it into patties. This keeps the meat moist and helps the patties maintain their shape.

  • Chicken wings: Another affordable chicken cut tops the list, and wings are great for feeding a larger family, too. So, if you have a family of six or more, this is the perfect meat for grilling! Try a medley of marinades to make sure everyone gets to enjoy a flavor they like. You can also toss them in buffalo, BBQ or teriyaki sauce after grilling.

  • Skirt steak: If you love beef fajitas, this is one meat to throw on the grill — pronto. Skirt steak is relatively tough, so you'll want to tenderize and marinate it beforehand.

  • Pork loin: It's easier to save money when you buy a larger piece of meat and cut it into smaller portions for all your diners. Like chicken, pork takes on marinade flavors nicely, and it doesn't take long to cook.

  • Tilapia: This fish is an affordable protein that stays nice and moist when prepared on the grill, especially if you wrap it in foil and steam it over the grates. And here’s another grilling tip for tilapia - add a little olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon slices and fresh rosemary to your foil pack for lots of added flavor. 

Steaks on the grill

Adding Flavor to Your Meals

We’ve now covered two of our grilling tips to help you stretch your budget. Next, let’s talk marinades. They're not just a great way to enjoy a diverse range of flavors on your meat; they're also ideal for tenderizing those cuts of meat that are a little on the tougher side. These easy meat seasonings can help make every morsel tender and juicy.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that anything acidic tenderizes beef. That means things like citrus juices (i.e. juice from lemons, limes or oranges), flavored vinegars, wine and even tomato sauces are ideal for softening those chewier steaks. When you're cooking affordable cuts that might not be as tender, it helps to use an acidic base for your marinade. Skip these for chicken, though; acid can sometimes toughen that type of meat.

Creating a marinade isn't as difficult as it sounds, and you almost don't need a special recipe for it. Instead, keep this formula in mind:

  • Half oil
  • One quarter acid
  • One quarter other flavorings

Neutral oils help the marinade stick to the meat without adding too much flavor. When it comes to acids, you can choose whatever sounds good — things like pineapple juice, rice wine vinegar or even pureed onions can all work. And flavorings might be anything from smoked paprika to chopped herbs to mustard. Have fun experimenting with your combinations using things you already have around the house, and simply remember your marinade proportions as you whip something up.

Stretching Your Grilling Budget

Beyond shopping the sales, buying lower-cost cuts of meat and building flavor and tenderness into more economical cuts, you have other options for making meat last longer. Buying in bulk is a smart way to save on the per-pound price of meat when you find great sale prices. Package up your meat in freezer-safe bags or storage containers. If you have a vacuum sealer, now is the time to break it out. Label everything with the packing date and the type and cut of meat so you can easily identify it.

After grilling, if you have leftovers, wrap them tightly with foil and store them in an airtight container. Put a few drops of water on grilled meat the next day when you're reheating it. You can use leftovers for sandwiches, sliced over salads, in burritos or in soups and stews. You can even chop up meat and make a hearty plate of nachos for tomorrow's dinner.

One more clever way to save when you're grilling on a budget is to use our Shop & Earn rewards program. Simply download the Food Lion app or sign up online to start getting personalized sale information and coupons tailored to your preferences. Once you start making purchases, you'll also begin earning rewards to redeem on future purchases.

Want more grilling tips? Check out our Fresh Ideas blog to find out what else to toss on the barbecue and what to serve on the side. And if you need some inspiration for grilled dishes to nourish your family, our recipe portal is chock-full of ideas.