Frugal, healthy eating: making your own barbecue marinade, sauce and meat rub

grilling One thing that has impressed me about frugal cookbooks like Dollars to Donuts, The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook and Family Feasts for $75 a Week is their back to basics, DIY approach to barbecue sauce recipes and meat rubs that you’d normally buy at the store. Not only is it cheaper to make them yourself, but it’s healthier, too. You can eliminate the high fructose corn syrup found in most barbecue sauces, and lower the sodium content of meat rubs, if you so wish.

Now that we have a new Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, I’m interested in making a variety of bbq sauce recipes and rubs myself. Here are a few that fit the bill.

Homemade BBQ Marinade

From The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook

Cost: $.34


  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 3 ounces of water
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Place the tomato paste into a small bowl.
  2. Fill the tomato paste can half way with water (approximately 3 ounces) and pour into the same bowl and whisk together.
  3. Add the vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, and pepper.
  4. Mix well and pour over chicken pieces.
  5. Let the chicken marinate for a least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before grilling.

This Mama’s tips:

  • If smoking a whole chicken, double the recipe and add 1/2 cup of olive oil. Place the chicken in a freezer bag and add the marinate to it. Let it marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Spicy Ribs Rub

From The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook

The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook Cost: $.50


  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix.
  2. Rub over pork ribs.
  3. Wrap the ribs in foil and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Grill or smoke the ribs the next day.

This Mama’s tips:

  • Experiment and add other spices to the mix like chili powder, cumin or oregano. If you’re adventurous, try Chinese 5 spice, ginger or cinnamon.
  • Try adding a little orange or lemon zest to your rub.

Tex Mex Rub

From Dollars to Donuts


  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika


  1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix.
  2. Store leftovers in a sealed container in a cool, dry place.

Honey Barbecue Sauce

From Family Feasts for $75 a Week 

Makes 3 cupsFamily Feasts for $75 a Week


  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium-size saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.
  2. Cool and store, tightly covered, in refrigerator up to two months.

This Mama’s tips:

  • Use a ketchup that contains no high fructose corn syrup like Hunt’s. Also, many organic and organic store variety ketchups contain no HFCS either – check the label!

More on grilling and barbecuing at This Mama Cooks:


Disclosure: I was sent a copies of Dollars to Donuts, Family Feasts for $75 a Week, and The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook to review.

3 thoughts on “Frugal, healthy eating: making your own barbecue marinade, sauce and meat rub

  1. Pingback: Foil pouch salmon, squash and zucchini dinner

  2. Anne-Marie

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    While time is money, you not only save
    money when cooking from scratch, but it’s better for your health too. Thanks
    for stopping by Benjamin!


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