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What do you do when you are getting very bored with your meals and you know that your budget simply won’t accommodate your desire to experiment?  Well, you experiment like a mad scientist with your spice cabinet.  Protein is protein and unless we are talking about some very expensive cuts you can make your cheap proteins taste however you would like.  The best way to add some spice to your meal- marinade!  This method is also a good time saver because you can take a tough cut of meat and tenderize it with the acid in the sauce or you can just let it sit and accentuate the flavors you love.  Either way you go, there is a lot of down time that allows you to let your meat sit in the fridge until you are ready to cook it!

The primary types of protein you would be marinading are beef, chicken, pork, and tofu.  Wait, what?  Tofu? Yes, I said Tofu.  The joy of tofu is that it has such a neutral flavor, you can make it taste like whatever you would like.  Here is a list of some great all-purpose marinades that are not expensive to put together.

The amount of marinade you get from each of these varies, but the minimum is 1 1/2 cups.  I encourage you to try each flavor with all different sorts of protein because the different between a bland and an exciting dinner is flavor!

Pork, Chicken, Lamb, Fish:

Number 1-
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped oregano
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper


Mix all ingredients except oil together. Blend until smooth in food processor. Slowly add oil while blending. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Can be stored up to 2 weeks.
Number 2-
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
  • 2 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns


Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Make Ahead The marinade can be refrigerated for 5 days. Serve With Pork and veal chops, steaks, spareribs (marinate for 1 hour); chicken (marinate for 20 minutes).
Number 3- (sorry for the metric measures)
  • 4 shallots or 50 ml sliced green onions
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 50 ml oil
  • 50 ml cider vinegar
  • 50 ml water
  • 5 ml dried dillweed
  • 5 ml salt
  • 1 ml pepper


Mix all ingredients together and cover your meat.  Allow to marinade for 12-24 hours before cooking.

Number 4-
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste


Mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Dijon mustard,
and garlic in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Number 5-
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Mix tequila, pepper, lemon peel and garlic in a heavy plastic bag. Add your beef and rotate to distribute mixture evenly over steaks. Let sit in refrigerator over night.

Number 6-
  • 2 cups fresh parsley and/or cilantro, firmly packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves (optional)
  • 3-6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (optional)
  • Kosher salt and red pepper flakes to taste


Pulse the garlic and onion in the food processor until finely chopped.
Add the parsley and/or cilantro, and oregano if using, and pulse briefly, until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a separate bowl. Add the olive oil, lime juice, and vinegar, and stir. (Adding the liquids outside of the blender gives the chimichurri the correct texture. You don’t want the herbs to be completely puréed, just finely chopped).  Season with salt and red pepper flakes to taste.   Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Number 7- (good for beef or tofu)
  • 5 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (I’ve used all light soy or substituted Ponzu Sauce for the Dark Soy)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili paste (Sirichi Sauce works well for this and can be found at the supermarket)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, light and dark soy sauce, Asian sesame oil, sugar, chili paste, garlic and olive oil. Cover and refrigerate.
Number 8-
  • 6-8 ounces Mexican Beer (any beer will do)
  • 1/3 cup fresh Orange Juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated Orange Zest (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Canola Oil
  • 1/2 cup Minced Onion
  • 2 tablespoons Minced Garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper


Place all of the ingredients into a blender and process the mixture until combined. Pour the marinade over the meat of your choice, cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours prior to cooking.

Number 9-
  • 2 T grated ginger root
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup sherry (a dry liquor)


Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl.  Marinate your meat of choice for a minimum of 4 hours then cook meat as preferred.

Number 10-
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup soybean oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup black pepper
  • 1/2 cup garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried onions


Mix all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. When you are ready, place the meat in a plastic container and pour the marinade over. Let stand in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.