So, you’ve been busy tackling household chores, and one still looms over your head – cleaning your dirty, disgusting gutters. You’d like to take a break and enjoy a Saturday of rest and relaxation, but you know it can’t wait.
First and foremost, free up some of your time this summer with LeafFilter Gutter Protection. Our gutter professionals will help you Take Back Saturday by eliminating that pesky item on your honey-do list – the very thing that’s keeping you from summer fun. Now you can finally take a breather and plan that backyard barbecue you’ve been itching to hold!
We’d hate for those plans come to a screeching halt once you see the rising costs of meat, and other barbecue necessities. So, we’ve compiled this list of 12 tips and tools that will help you become a grill master so you can still throw a barbecue shindig without breaking the bank.
Top Grilling Tools
Stick with the essentials – When you think grill master, do you envision a tool belt full of the latest and greatest in grilling equipment? All those tools aren’t really necessary in order to grill the perfect steak or rack of ribs. In fact, it’s safest to stick with trusty classics like a spatula, tongs, basting brush, cleaning brush, and thermometer.
Buy special tools only when you know you’ll use them often – Some grill chefs may argue that they use their grill pan for “literally everything.” If you have grandiose visions of grilling up veggies and fruits every which way possible, it might be worthwhile to spring for a wok or special grill pan. Other specialty tools that may come in handy depending on the cook are a fryer, rotisserie, or fish basket. A good rule of thumb is to think about how many times you’re likely to use the tool. If the number of times you think you’ll use it is close to the number of dollars it costs (i.e. You can think of 40 times you’ll use a $40 rotisserie), it’s worthwhile to buy. If not, pass. You can always use foil packs to grill up fruits and veggies.
DIY spices – Buying premade spice mixes can be costly, especially if you’re cooking in bulk and need a lot of it. It’s much cheaper to make your own spice blends at home. Barbecue spice blends are usually a blend of 3 or more of the following: Salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and crushed red pepper. Some people even add in some brown sugar to balance it out with a little bit of sweetness. It’s fun to experiment making your own blend. And when your friends ask what tastes so great, you can tell them it’s your own secret recipe.
Master grilling techniques – The last thing you want to do is splurge on a good cut of meat only to burn it on the grill because you didn’t know proper techniques. First and foremost, make sure to start with a clean grill. If charred bits of your last meal are stuck on the grates, you’re certain to get a funny taste on your food. It’s also extremely important to cook your meat over indirect heat, and not over the open flame, so that it can thoroughly cook without getting burnt. Remember: low and slow is the way to go. Finally, after smelling your meat cook all afternoon, you’re probably going to be eager to cut into your meat as soon as you pull it off the grill, but resist the temptation. Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes after putting it on a platter. This gives time for the meat to cook that last little bit, and helps the juices to render and redistribute throughout the cut. This is guaranteed to make for an outstanding, flavorful meal!
Keep up with grill maintenance – Regular grill maintenance will preserve your grill for years to come, saving you tons of money. Invest in a heavy duty grill cover to protect it from the elements. Also, be sure to regularly clean the grill – inside and out – to prevent mold growth, rust, and grease fires.
Adopt a BYOB policy – Alcoholic beverages are usually one of the most expensive items on the menu (unless you’re making Delmonico steaks for everyone!). To save yourself a little money, ask guests to bring their own beverages.
Arrange a potluck – Potlucks are a fun way to get everyone excited about your party, with the added bonus of helping you save money! A good way to approach it is to ask guests to bring specific components of the meal instead of making it a free-for-all. This way, you’re sure to have everything from side dishes to dessert covered instead of ending up with four different types of salad. As the host, you should also provide the main course for your guests.
DIY decorations and invites – It may be tempting to go all out and buy trendy decorations at a party store, but it’s more cost effective to make your own. Get creative with your DIY invites and decorations with things you have lying around the house. You can even choose a theme (like a luau) or color scheme (like tropical colors) to give it an extra special touch.
Cookout Shopping Tips
Buy what’s in season – This tip will come in handy when it comes time to pick your side dishes (if you’re not going with the potluck option!). The large supply of in-season fruits and vegetables often leads to lower prices. Corn is a great pick for your summer barbecue – it’s cost effective and tastes fantastic when grilled. Some other summer vegetables include tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers. Berries are in season in early summer, and peaches are great later on.
Go bulk shopping – If you’re having a big party, it’s time to think about bulk shopping. Membership-based warehouse-type stores are a gold mine for cost-effective meats and sides. If you don’t already have a membership, look around for trial membership deals in your area so you don’t have to dish out the cash for a full year pass.
Get good at couponing – There’s no need to become an extreme couponer, but it is helpful to clip coupons for items you’ll be buying anyways. It may seem fruitless at first, but even using a $0.50 coupon here and there will add up over time. Coupons are especially helpful for all those pricey paper products you’ll need for your cookout, like cups, plates, and napkins. Look for places that double or triple coupons for even more savings.
Spend where it counts, like buying the best cuts of meat! – If you have room in your budget for a little bit of a splurge, make it count and go for the best cuts of meat. But, if you don’t have any wiggle room, don’t worry! There are still tasty options that don’t come with the sky high prices.
- Delmonico steaks and rib eyes are the best cuts of beef if you’re grilling steak. Because they’re so pricy, this option may only be feasible for a smaller barbecue. Look for bright red meat with marbling throughout to ensure a fresh, tender steak.
- Baby back ribs are tender and juicy, and go great with any type of barbecue. They are the most tender cut of pork available, but well worth the extra spend.
- Lobster is a decadent addition to any grilling menu. While you may find a sale on frozen lobsters, fresh ones are a tastier option. Just be sure none of your guests have seafood allergies!
- Chicken is the most cost-effective option. You can choose a mix of light and dark meat, and add some zing with a marinade or barbecue sauce. Bone-in chicken will be more flavorful, but takes a little longer to cook, so choose your cuts based on your specific needs.
- Hot dogs and/or sausages are delicious on the grill, and can be eaten as a sandwich or on their own. Just remember, the more toppings you provide, the more expensive this dish can be. Stick to the basics, like ketchup, mustard, chopped onions, and relish, for ultimate cost savings.
- Pork chops aren’t as common at barbecues – but they should be! They’re a quick, easy, and cheap option for larger get-togethers. You can dress it up with those in-season peaches or slap on a little barbecue for a big hit.
- Shrimp on the barbie is delicious and can be cost effective if made on skewers mixed with vegetables. As with the lobster, take your guests needs into account and avoid if there are any shellfish allergies.
- Burgers are an old standby for backyard barbecues. Ground sirloin is the top of the line choice for burger meat, but is a little pricier than other ground beef options. A more cost-effective choice for burger meat is ground chuck, which has the most fat (meaning it’s the juiciest of them all). Avoid ground round, which is leaner and may make for dry burgers.
Take Back Saturday and Become a Grill Master
Do you feel like a grill master yet? Take Back Saturday, and rid yourself of the same old household chores, like gutter cleaning, so you can do more things that you love – like becoming a BBQ master.
Learn how LeafFilter can help you Take Back Saturday and eliminate gutter cleaning for life.