You might want to fire up the grill this summer to enjoy some barbecue goodness, but living in an apartment sure can put a damper on your plans. In fact, a recent survey of Rent.com users found that 60% are not allowed to have their own grill and more than a quarter don’t have access to community grills.
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Fortunately, indoor grilling is totally an option, as long as you use the right products and strategies. Of course, now you’re probably concerned that getting those smoky grill lines on your barbecue dishes will cost extra money. Never fear! You can cook up some amazing food without spending a ton of cash on BBQ supplies.
Check these tips to be on your way to a summer smorgasbord of delicious (and affordable) meals:
For Goodness Sake, Don’t Use a Traditional Grill!
Before we tackle budget grilling tips, we have to go over safety—we can’t have you poisoning your apartment with grilling fumes or potentially starting a fire.
For starters, nix the traditional charcoal or gas grills. Those are for outside only. Using them indoors will fill your apartment with smoke, setting off your alarm and making breathing, well, difficult. Additionally, they are a fire hazard. Overall, grilling inside with a typical grill is unsafe and definitely not landlord approved.
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Instead, you can purchase nifty little devices designed to give you grill flavor while cooking safely indoors. Isn’t that clever? Someone else went through the trouble of designing an apartment-safe grill system so you wouldn’t have to. You’ll have several options when it comes to finding indoor grilling appliances:
Stovetop Grill Pan: These contraptions are typically made of cast iron and look like a long plate with lines. You simply place the grill on top of two burners, which heat the metal. The grill lines raise your meat off the skillet, giving your food those nice char marks.You’ll have to practice using the stovetop grill because figuring out the proper temperature setting is different than using a pot or pan.
Other models are square pans that sit on one burner and have a handle. As you shop for your stovetop grill, look for a type that suits your lifestyle. If you cook for several people, the longer version may be your best option.
Press Appliances: These grills feature two sheets that sandwich together, like a panini press. For the most part, these appliances plug into the wall and run off electricity.
Flat Grill Appliances: Similar to the stovetop grills, these appliances feature a single flat surface upon which to cook your food. Rather than sit on your stove, however, they plug into an outlet.
Oven Grills: Oven grills are quite like a roasting pan but have a grill rack. You cook your food in the oven, according to manufacturer directions.
Buying Indoor Grills Cheap
OK, so we’ve covered which grills you can use inside; now you have to buy the appliance. The stovetop and oven models will be the most budget friendly, while plug-in appliances come with a larger price tag. In fact, you can find a single-burner grill pan for under $30! Visit any store that sells cookware to look for your pan.
Stores such as TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, and Bed Bath & Beyond also sell affordable cookware.The first two carry well-known brands for a fraction of the retail price. You can also visit outlet stores to find a good grill pan.
Read customer reviews before you buy your pan—you don’t want to spend money on a cheap one, realize it doesn’t work very well and have to buy a new pan. Paying a little more upfront to ensure you have a quality product may save you cash in the long run.
Follow Cooking Directions
Read the manufacturer instructions when using your new grill pan. Every model heats a different way. At first, you may have to fiddle around to figure out the quirks your pan has. By sticking to the directions, you’re less likely to burn your meat or undercook your veggies during the first few uses.
Improperly cooking your food could result in you wasting ingredients—that’s not budget friendly! After some practice, you should be well acclimated to your new appliance.
Ventilate When Cooking
Indoor grills are designed to produce very little, if any, smoke. However, you should still crack a window or turn on your stove’s exhaust fan when cooking with the grill. Your barbecue will taste great and be made safely. And a final safety note: Make sure your smoke detectors have batteries before you start grilling indoors.