This is a recipe column, not a meal-planning or grocery-shopping column. But you can’t make a recipe without all of those other unmentioned elements: the planning, the prepping, and the paying for it all. If that last part is on your mind more than usual lately, you aren’t alone: it seems we may all be commiserating over the sticker shock of our recent grocery bills. So as we embrace the flavorful joys of summer, it’s never been a better time to embrace the basic principles of cooking simply.
Use what you have
First, carefully assess the contents of your pantry and freezer. I’d guarantee there’s more there than you realized. Build your meals around what you already have at home, and be willing to embrace a “Chopped-style” cooking approach. Even if the meal you come up with doesn’t turn out to be a winner for regular rotation, the satisfaction you’ll feel for using your resources so prudently fills you up in a different way.
Reduce your meat consumption
It’s not novel, but lightening up on the amount of meat you consume can make a big impact on your grocery tab—not to mention benefit the planet. Inspiration and resources for plant-based recipes abound these days, but I’d advise starting with legumes and whole grains at the center of your plate. Humble and endlessly flexible, these plant-based stars really pull their weight in your weekly meal plan.
Embrace new cuts of meat
When you do buy meat, you’ll save money and stretch your palate if you try less popular cuts. This is how I found myself buying pork tenderloin—a lean cut that I had always found pretty bland. Determined to transform the meat into something delicious, I brought out my best two tools: the grill and the season’s best produce. While the pork rested after grilling, I whizzed together a quick peach barbecue sauce from peaches I bought roadside (the best kind). Drizzled with sweet, flavorful peach sauce, the smoky, juicy pork was far from flavorless. Mission accomplished.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peach Sauce Recipe
2 pork tenderloins (about 1 lb. each)
4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
2 tsp. chili powder
Vegetable oil (for grill)
½ cup peach preserves, warmed
For the sauce:
2 large ripe peaches, peeled and chopped (make sure your peaches are quite ripe or the sauce won’t be as delicious)
¼ cup ketchup
2–3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (taste your mustard for pungency first to determine how much you want to use)
1 tsp. light brown sugar
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Kosher salt
- Season pork with salt, pepper, and chili powder and rub all over, using your hands. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. When ready to cook, prepare a grill for medium heat and oil grates.
- Meanwhile, in a blender, pulse together all the sauce ingredients, including the peaches, until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust with more salt, if desired. If making ahead, cover sauce and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Place pork on grill and brush with some of the preserves. Grill, turning every 4 minutes or so and brushing with any remaining preserves, until charred on all sides and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 130°F, 12–14 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice ½” thick.
- Serve slices of the grilled pork tenderloin with the peach-mustard sauce drizzled over them.
Photography by Jivan Dave