6 Rules for Cooking Beef on a Budget + 7 Great Steak Recipes

Header image: Grilled Skirt Steak with Mushrooms, Blue Cheese, and Bacon from CHOW

Since we are in the midst of grilling season, it’s a great time to remind you that you don’t need to spend a week’s pay to cook something that is truly great. We’ve already given you some great tips this year but if you feel like your steak game could use a boost, fear not we’ve got some great tips and recipes on how to cook steak (with a budget in mind):

1. Know your cuts of meat. Want to save a few bucks? Learn some of the lesser-known cuts of meat. Since it’s grill season, you can coax great flavor out of cuts like a hanger, skirt, flank, short ribs, sirloin tip or tri-tip just as easily as you could with a more expensive filet or rib eye.

2. Follow this general advice. If it’s a lean cut of beef, cook it hot and fast. If it’s a fatty cut of meat, cook it low and slow. Granted, there’s a lot of subjectivity involved there but it will help to avoid turning your steak into a hockey puck

3. Don’t be afraid to ask your butcher questions. Regardless of location - supermarket, or if you’re lucky, a legitimate old-school meat shop - a butcher should be your best friend when it comes to buying the right cut of meat for what you’re looking to make. Have a question, just ask. 4. Shop the weekly ads. Weekly ads aren’t just for your grandma. You can find great deals in the weekly circulars of major grocery stores and use it as an opportunity to stock up. Buy too much to eat that week? Just stick it in the freezer like a few of our CHOW readers recommend.

5. Salt aggressively. We’ll give you some recipes below but the number one tip for turning a regular steak into something special is knowing when and how to properly season the steak. If you are just planning on throwing the steak on the grill, make sure you salt the steak at least an hour before cooking. The salt will initially pull out all of the moisture from the meat - throw it on the grill at that point and game over. If you wait another 30 minutes or so, the moisture will be drawn back into the meat, fully seasoning the interior of the steak. Feel free to season as you wish from that point forward.

6. Serving a crowd? Slice it thin. If you are feeding a small army, get a large piece of flank, skirt or top round steak and slice it before serving. Guests will end up eating less than if you plopped down an individual steak on everyone's plate. Plus, it’s a great way to experiment with new recipes (think steak tacos).

And now that we’ve given you some practical advice on how to shop on a budget, how about a few recipes that show you can cook a great steak without breaking the bank.

1. Argentine Grilled Tri-Tip Steak


Argentineans eat more beef, per capita, than any other country in the world, so it’s not surprising that they can cook the heck out of any cut of meat - including tri-tip. The key to this recipe is a quick marinade of olive oil, garlic and rosemary and a [expletive] hot grill. Get our Argentine Grilled Tri-Tip Steak recipe.

2. Beef Kalbi


Thinly sliced short ribs are a staple in Korean kitchens, so why not take a stab one of the lesser known cuts of beef this summer. Outside of Korean malt syrup - which you can replace with corn syrup, sugar or honey - almost all of the other ingredients can be found in your traditional big-box grocery store.  Get our Beef Kalbi recipe.

3. Grilled Skirt Steak Fajitas


Remember what we said earlier about slicing the steak to help control portion size and save you a few bucks? Our recipe stretches 1-½ pounds of skirt steak - along with the standard taco bar sides  - into a meal that will serve 6-8.  Get our Grilled Skirt Steak Fajitas recipe.

4. Grilled Steak Quesadillas


Or for another way to use skirt steak, try our recipe for quesadillas. The chipotle-rubbed steak is grilled, sliced, and topped with cheese and diced jalapenos before finishing a second time on the grill. Get our Grilled Steak Quesadillas recipe.

5. Balsamic-Marinated Grilled Flank Steak with Bell Pepper Relish


Like skirt steak, flank is a long, odd-looking piece of meat that looks like it could be the scraps left over after trimming a large filet. But treated with care, flank steak is a great, cheap alternative that takes really well to the grill. Just follow our recipe and be sure to cut the steak thin, across the grain for maximum tenderness. Get our Balsamic-Marinated Grilled Flank Steak with Bell Pepper Relish recipe.

6. Grilled Skirt Steak with Red Miso


If Miso isn’t already a staple in your pantry / fridge, after trying this recipe, it might be. The skirt steak is marinated in a mix of miso, sake, mirin and chili paste before heading to the grill. What you’ll get is a steak so tender that you’ll be convinced you paid twice as much. Get our Grilled Skirt Steak with Red Miso recipe.

7. Simple Sicilian-Style Grilled Steak


If a picture says a thousand words, the first things that come to mind are “Wow”, “Delicious” and “Why am I not eating this now?” after taking a look at the photos of the Sicilian-Style grilled steak from Food52. Get the recipe here.

Dan McKay is a Canadian actor, film director, screenwriter, and musician—oh wait, that's Ryan Gosling. Dan is a Philly-based freelance writer, photographer, and digital marketer. He has written for Eater and Thrillist, in addition to other publications. Outside of work, you might run across him in the Asian market or in one of Philly’s local drinking establishments.

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