Being on food stamps shouldn’t mean recipients have to sacrifice fun cooking options like barbecues, and here’s how to make the most of food stamps for outdoor cooking.
1. Make Your Own Sauce
One of the temptations of buying sauce in a supermarket is it’s already prepared and contained in a neat little jar. There’s no muss or fuss, just selecting what flavor you want and heading to the checkout. But buying pre-made sauce is also a more expensive option, not to mention more additive-filled. Finding a sauce with few or natural ingredients tends to be the more expensive option, while cheaper sauces tend to have a less robust flavor and can be loaded with additives.
Instead, make your own sauce, which doesn’t take nearly as much time as it seems. For example, a standard basic barbecue sauce takes about 15 minutes to make, and consists of nothing more than the following:
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 2 tbsp prepared mustard
- 1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
- 1 tbsp of any kind of barbecue rub
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Once you’ve assembled all the ingredients, mix everything together in a saucepan. Let it come to a boil at medium-high heat, and then leave it to simmer at medium-low for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Assemble the Vegetables
No barbecue is complete without grilled vegetables. While some typical barbecue vegetables can be expensive, like zucchini or asparagus, every vegetable always has a place at the barbecue table. Vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers and tomatoes are easy to find and inexpensive year round, and make great additions to any meal. Just marinade the vegetables ahead of time and lay them on the grill for a minute or two on each side, and your barbecue meal is complete.
3. Choose the Meat
The meat for the barbecue will be the most expensive part of the meal, but it doesn’t mean you have to use a week’s worth of food stamps on one item. Here’s a brief list of how to incorporate meat into your barbecue, and save your food stamps for the rest of the month, too:
- Ground Beef: Hamburgers are one of the most inexpensive barbecue meats, as they can often be bought for only a few dollars per package. It’s also a meat that’s almost always on special at various grocery stores, and can be made up in many different ways.
- Hot Dogs: Hot dogs are also another traditional barbecue food. Unlike hamburgers, though, hot dogs contain a lot more additives and sodium, making them an occasional—albeit inexpensive—food choice.
- Pork Shoulder: The shoulder is comprised of two cuts, the picnic roast and butt, with both of them extremely cheap and plentiful meat options. The key to making a good pork shoulder is to use a lot of moisture and time, and to leave as much fat on as possible (you can take it off after, but it helps the cooking process.)
- Turkey: Often relegated to the holidays, turkey tends to be cheaper than chicken. It’s also a much bigger bird than chicken, which means that for a similar price to chicken, there’s a lot more meat to work with. Handy tip: pick out a fresh turkey and ask your butcher to cut it into pieces so you can barbecue some and freeze the rest.
Food stamps isn’t an automatic association for cheap, bland meals, and a barbecue only requires a bit of preparation and inventiveness.