Now, some stuff people barbecue is less expensive (um, hot dogs, loss-leader ground beef burgers) but most of it is pretty spendy. I'm sure, if I'd thought of it in advance, I could have asked Mom for her top cheap meat grilling tips, but I didn't.
Luckily, I already know her top "meaty" tip, which is cheap chicken. Not healthy, not good for the chickens, but you can get chicken quarters pretty much anywhere (um, in the US, anyway) for less than a dollar a pound. If you watch carefully and live in a cheap area you can scoop them up for 25 cents a pound (sometimes less).
So that's great, you've got chicken. But what if you don't like chicken, or like me you're veggie? Things get a bit more interesting here. You see, a BBQ or snazzy grill is not just for char-broiled hunks of animal. You can make *all kinds* of stuff on a grill. And today I'm gonna share a couple of those things with you ('cause veggie burgers and dogs *really* don't grill well).
1st! Grilled veggies-
This is probably the best, most flexible option. And if you have a garden (that doesn't get slaughtered by hail just before harvest every year) it's even nearly free. If you use veggies that can be sliced into slabs or wide-ish strips you don't need anything fancy, they can just go right on the grill. Smaller stuff (like cherry tom's, bits of broccoli,green onions, or (yum) Brussels sprouts) works best with a veggie grill pan. I *really* like the flavor eggplant gets when you peel, slice, oil, and salt it before tossing it over coals. You can also poke holes in a whole eggplant, brush oil over it, and grill it that way for a smaller clean-up, smokier Baba Ganoush(sp). Most veggies are great with just a spray or drizzle or brushing of oil/ salt. You can get grilled veggies at Whole Foods for something like $8 a pound, so doing your own is totally cheaper. Then you can put them together in sammiches.
Indeed, grilled eggplant, onion, zucchini on lightly toasted bread with either vegan or cow cheese melted into the top is one of my most favoritest sammiches ever.
You can also use the grill to make amazing salsa. There's a whole vegetarian grilling cookbook or two out there, and they're totally worth a look. They have them at libraries in Wyoming and South Carolina, so you should be able to get your hands on one *somewhere* for free.
Anyway, for amazing salsa, cut a white or red onion into slabs (so width-wise into rings through the center, not top to bottom), grab a couple fresh (homegrown or heirloom if possible) tomatoes, a chili or two, some green onion if you feel like it, maybe an ear of corn. Brush everything with oil (or toss in oil if you don't have a brush/ sprayer) and toss on the grill. Jalapenos might fall through the cracks, so maybe put them on a piece of foil or in a veggie pan. Grill everything until it's done--soft with dark/ crispy/ browned "skin" on the outside. They won't cook at the same speed, so don't expect that. Pull them as they finish, and toss them in a blender, food processor, or stick blender cup. Blend just enough to make a nice tasty dip/ sauce. It won't be chunky (oh, yeah, add corn at the end, for texture and stuff), but it's great for dipping veggies and other stuff.
I know, I know. Anyway, for pizza you just use a normal dough, though maybe a bit stiffer than usual--you want it to sit on top of the grating, not slip through it. If your dough is too soft, add a sheet of foil to the grill-top before adding your pizzas. You need all your toppings ready to go when you put your dough on--it only takes a couple minutes on the first side--just enough to get it started cooking.
Then you flip the dough, cover the top with whatever you want (those roasted veggies go great here), close the lid if you've got one (to melt "cheese"), and cook long enough for the dough to be done, crispy and browned on the bottom, and the toppings to be melted/ hot/ bubbly/ whatever they're supposed to be. Even on gas grills this gets some flavor, but it's really win on charcoal BBQ's.
And don't forget--a bbq is really just a way of adding heat. If you want soup or pasta with your other grilled stuff and don't feel like heating up the kitchen, just fill a pot (one without plastic handle, trust me on this one) with water or whatever, and toss it on there. Timing and temps might take a bit of practice, but it totally beats a hot kitchen, right?