Love the taste of a grilled supper? You can have it in just minutes if you plan right and follow these quick BBQ ideas to save you time and money.
Ready to get your grill on?
Grilling is a super quick and money-saving way to prep your meals. There’s little mess; food cooks quickly on the grill; it doesn’t heat up the house; and you don’t spend a lot of time cooped up inside.
When you grill in season, you can likely find cheap cuts of meat and summer-ripe veggies to throw on the grill, allowing you to maximize the sale pricing and seasonality of the foods you love.
So, how to you get from grocery to grill without a sweat?
Quick BBQ Ideas to Save You Time & Money
Check out these tips for making sure yours is a quick and easy grill night:
1. Make sure you have enough propane or charcoal.
It’s not a BBQ if you can’t light the fire! Running to the store for replacements will definitely extend your dinnertime — and make your family grumpy.
Plan ahead by making sure you check your fuel supply. It’s a good practice to rent two propane tanks at a time, so that you always have a full one in reserve.
If you use charcoal to fuel your fire, watch for sales on your favorite brand and stock up.
2. Have your side dishes already to go.
Cold meat isn’t as good as the stuff coming hot off the grill. That means you need to be ready to eat.
Make sure your summer salads and other side dishes can be made a little in advance and have them ready. The grill cooks quicker than you think.
And yes, the human serving grill duty may get a little antsy if you don’t have everything else READY, so you’ll do yourselves a little interpersonal relationship favor if you make sure the sides are ready.
And yes, it’s okay to buy them at the grocery store deli if you don’t have time to make them yourself, but trust me when I say that this macaroni salad is cheaper and better than what you’ll find in the deli counter.
3. Brush the grill with an oil with a high smoke point.
You grease a pan when you bake; be sure to oil the grill when you cook out. This will prevent meat from sticking to the grill rack and allow you to cook, flip, cook, eat more quickly.
Use a high smoke point oil like grapeseed or avocado to avoid too much smoke from burning oil.
4. Choose quick cooking ingredients.
For a really quick dinner, choose quicker cooking proteins. Fish, shrimp, chicken tenders, kabobs, and hamburgers all cook relatively quickly and are usually already portion-sized.
If you’ve got a tri-tip roast but not as much time as a roast would take, cut it into steaks. When it comes to quick dinners, what you choose to cook is just as important as how you cook it.
5. Use a meat thermometer.
Don’t waste valuable eating time overcooking the steaks. Use a meat thermometer to judge accurately when the meat is cooked.
Not sure what the right temps are? Check out this list to help you know the proper internal temperature of the meat you’re grilling.
- ground meat and meat mixtures – 160 degrees F for beef, pork, veal, lamb/165 degrees F for poultry
- beef, veal, and lamb steaks – 145 degrees F with a 3 minute rest time
- all poultry – 165 degrees F
- pork – 145 degrees F with a 3 minute rest time
- fish – 145 degrees F or until fish breaks apart easily with fork and is opaque.
- shrimp and other shellfish – until flesh is white/opaque
6. Allow for resting time.
Some cuts do need a few minutes to rest. The temperature list above will also let you know what resting is required, so that you can time your meal properly and not stand around waiting to cut in.
7. Do double duty.
Make double so you can enjoy smoky-flavored leftovers in your lunch tomorrow. Cooking once and enjoying it again later is a great way to stretch your time investment.
Better yet, make enough extras to freeze for next so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor for days on end.
8. Make sure you’ve got the right BBQ tools.
It’s helpful to have the right tools. These will help you make quick work of cooking on the BBQ.
- meat thermometer
- Ergo Chef cooking tongs
- My cookbook with a complete quick cooking grilling chapter 😉
- basting brushes
9. Remember that you can bake on the grill!
True story. There are many things to bake on your grill, but pizza tops the list. Grilled pizza takes about all of five minutes to cook, making it a great meal to prepare al fresco.
You can even cook a take and bake or frozen pizza on the grill if you don’t want to make it all from scratch!
10. Make some marinades or spice rubs.
Homemade marinades and spice rubs are super easy to prepare and they add quick flavor to your favorite proteins. Consider whipping up some of these:
- 5-Minute Asian Chicken Marinade Recipe
- Tandoori Chicken Marinade Recipe
- Spicy Southwest Chicken Marinade
- Basic Spice Blend
- Warm & Spicy Fish Rub Recipe
11. Try foil packs!
One of my favorite quick BBQ ideas is to make foil packs. Encasing protein and veggies in packets of aluminum foil makes for quick, easy, and practically mess-free meals! They can be made in advance — and even frozen! — so that dinner is served in a matter of minutes.
12. Make grilling a habit.
The more you do something, the easier and quicker it becomes. Therefore, making grilling a habit is a great way to save time and money.
- making it obvious
- making it attractive
- making it easy
- making it satisfying
When you make grilling the easy, delicious, satisfying, obvious choice for dinner, it is a prime candidate for becoming a reliable and worthy habit.
You can help the process along by putting grilling in the regular rotation of your menu, choosing delicious grilling recipes, following these quick BBQ ideas to making it easy, and sitting back and enjoying the fruits of your labor.
I can’t think of a better way to spend the summer, can you?
What are your favorite quick BBQ ideas?
This post was originally published on October 7, 2015. It has been updated for content and clarity.