It’s summer and for us, that means lazy humid days, lots of iced coffee and throwing anything and everything we can on the grill. There’s something about this time of the year where we strike a balance between raw and cold applications and the scorching sound of the grill into the meals that grace our dining table. Simplicity is key when it comes to our summer meals more than any other season. When it comes to the thrill of the grill, we rely heavily on marinades, rubs and sauces to amplify our proteins, and a cooling beverage doesn’t hurt either. Having said all that we don’t like to plan much. We shop in the morning, grab what looks great or better yet, is on sale, and let the grill do the rest of the work for us. This summer, free yourself of recipes that are either too labor intensive or too lengthy and just go for it. Here are a few ideas to keep in your back pocket to get the party going.

Think Citrus:

Grab whatever citrus looks good, or better yet, use a combination of a couple of different things. Use the zest and juice of lemons, limes, oranges and/or grapefruit and combine with olive oil, mustard and any fresh herbs you have on hand to marinate your protein, any will do. Reserve some to baste the meat as it cooks or to serve with the meat after it has cooked.

Clear out your Spice Cabinet:

While we only use fresh herbs at home (ditch the dried stuff), spices can pack a punch when used appropriately. Most spices only have a shelf life of six months to a year so toss those that you’ve had for far too long and try to buy from places that have a high turnover or you can buy in bulk (some Whole Foods allow you buy as little or as much as you’d like). Toast the spices in a small skillet over low heat until little wisps of smoke appear, then cool completely. Coat with chicken, pork or beef and play around with different combinations for an endless array of flavor profiles. Smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, za’atar, espelette pepper and even ground espresso are some of our favorites and make for great rubs.

Think Drinks:

Who says you can’t marinate with what you are drinking? We love marinating meats and seafood with freshly brewed iced tea, cold beer or white wine. Feel free to toss in some fresh herbs in there too along with cracked peppercorns and lemon zest for a completely different approach.

Pungent is Good:

Big, bold flavors work great as marinades, and sometimes aggressively flavored combinations work wonders to break down tougher cuts of meat. Try some of the following on something like flank steak, which takes especially well to powerful marinades: chipotles in adobo sauce, fish sauce, red curry paste, freshly grated garlic and ginger, and/or harissa.

Katie and Richard Chudy are professionally trained chefs who own the personal chef and catering company, The Skinny Beet.  They are also both food writers and each just came out with their first cookbooks, Superfood Sandwiches and American Burger Revival, respectively.