Who doesn’t love firing up the barbecue and grilling out over the weekend? There’s nothing better than really taking your time to slow-cook cuts of meat so that you bring out the full flavor you want. You get great food, and you get to relax with your friends and family.Unfortunately, most of us have a little something that we like to call a “budget,” and a big, no-holds-barred cookout can wreak havoc with that if you’re not careful. Luckily, those last four words are the most important ones: “if you’re not careful.” With a bit of smart buying and planning ahead, it’s possible to not only stay within your food budget for the week, but even come out ahead.

Planning for the Weekend Barbecue

First, the key is to purchase big, inexpensive cuts of meat that are versatile and reheat well. Think about things like brisket and pork shoulder. On sale, you can find them for as little as $1.50 to $1.75 per pound, and they’re all delicious either in a smoker or on the grill.

Second, you need to find the right recipe to work a little bit of magic with them. We’ve made the process easier for you by locating these two great step-by-step guides:

Brisket Recipe for Beef Brisket
BBQ Pulled Pork Recipe for Pork Shoulder

Planning Your 8 Weekday Meals

Now it’s easy to turn your lazy afternoon barbecue into eight different fast and delicious meals that will last you through the week. What kinds of meals are we talking about?

Tacos or nachos. Both brisket and BBQ pulled pork work great in tacos or on top of nachos. Even better, there’s probably a great chance that you already had things like chips, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese for your barbeque, so this can be as simple as covering a plate in tortilla chips, adding the toppings you want, and heating. Mmmm.

Shepherd’s pie. If you look up the definition of shepherd’s pie, all it says is “a dish of ground meat under a layer of mashed potato.” What that means for you is that you can add pretty much anything you want. Get some pre-made mashed potatoes and pie crusts and you’re ready to go. Just toss the pulled pork and whatever veggies or other ingredients you want into the crust, top it off with the mashed potatoes, and throw it in your oven for about an hour. Admittedly, the cooking time is a bit on the longer side, but this meal is completely hands off once it’s in the oven.

Pizzas. Doesn’t the idea of a BBQ pulled pork pizza just sound good? Well, you can do that, top with brisket instead, or go the “meat-lovers” route and add both. All you’ll need is pre-made crust with sauce from the store, and some shredded cheese to top it off. It should take maybe five minutes to prepare and another 15 minutes in the oven at whatever temperature is recommended on the crust package.

Fried rice. You’ve heard of chicken fried rice, but what about BBQ pulled pork rice? Or even brisket rice? Both work wonderfully with this dish—just make sure the brisket is diced up small enough. Pick up a package of frozen fried rice and frozen veggies from the store and simply heat your leftover meats separately or along with it. You’ll have barely any dishes and the meal will be ready in minutes.

Salads. Want a lighter lunch or dinner? Leftover brisket and BBQ pulled pork allows you to make several different delicious salads with your choice of ingredients. The only real requirement is that you have lettuce, but many will probably want other veggies, dressing, and so on—it’s up to you! One nice bonus is that this will probably be a welcome healthier meal after a weekend of indulging with hearty, heavy meats.

Wraps. When we think of wraps, we tend to think of chicken, but there’s no rule saying that BBQ pulled pork and brisket are off limits. This is a nice way to get more use out of soft taco shells if you made those earlier in the week. Just add lettuce, tomatoes, and your condiments of choice, and you’re good to go for lunch or dinner.

Sliders. BBQ pulled pork works fantastically as a sandwich, so sliders are an obvious next step. And talk about easy: all you really need to do is buy the buns, heat it up, and start eating. Yum!

Fully dressed baked potato. Our imaginations tend to start and stop at “bacon” when it comes to putting meat on baked potatoes, but brisket and especially BBQ pulled pork can really add some amazing flavor. You’ll probably still want the other trimmings, though, so don’t skimp on the cheddar or sour cream. For a faster baked potato, cook it in the microwave, then add your toppings.

Find out how to keep your next grill-out good for you: How To Make A Healthy BBQ Plate

Featured photo credit: barbecue with delicious grilled meat on grillvia Shutterstock

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