It is finally that time of the year again. Memorial day and Father’s day have just passed, and the summer grilling season is in full force. To me, summer is just not summer without barbecue recipes, but they can add a lot to your food bill if you are not careful. These 15 money saving tips will trim the fat on your grocery bill but still make sure that your gatherings are something for your guests to remember.
These Money Saving Tips for a Summer Barbecue Will Trim the Fat For Sure.
There are some expenses that you really can’t do much about as far as costs go. Feeding a large group of people adds up when it comes to all the condiments and extras that are needed. But there are still so many things that you can do to cut down the costs without sacrificing the flavor or the fun.
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for some help from Guests. I rarely throw a big barbecue without someone offering to bring a side dish, or to ask what I need. Let your guests contribute. I try to concentrate on those things that I know I can manage easily for the few days running up to the gathering. Then when guests ask, I tell them what will either take too much space in my fridge and too much of my prep time. It is easier for one guest to bring a single item than for me to do it all. It saves both money and time and I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about it. 2. Skip the expensive meats. Chicken legs are much cheaper than boneless breasts and also juicier on the barbecue than white meat which tends to dry out. A great home made marinade will tenderize the less expensive cuts of beef. Save the shrimp for dinner parties and use cheaper cuts of fish. There are so many ways that you can save on meat, and since meat is your biggest expense, it pays to economize here to save the most amount of cash. 3. Bring your own Booze. I always have some extra beer and wine on hand for the party, but none of my friends expect me to foot the alcohol bill for a large party. Just add BYOB to the invite. Doing this saves a tremendous amount of money on the party bill. 4. Make Vegetables the King. Veggies are so much cheaper this time of the year than during the colder months. Tossing them in some inexpensive salad dressing and adding them to a grill mat to cook will tempt even the most ardent of meat eaters. And if guests fill up on vegetables, they won’t be filling up on the more expensive meat options. That is a big win for your pocket book. 5. Make your own spice rubs. Nothing makes a steak or a burger better than a great rub. But if you buy these in the store, you will pay up to $7 or $8 for small bottle. Use one of my special spice rubs and you can make cups of it from spices that you already have on hand for a fraction of that cost. (and dried spices go stale in time, so it’s good to use them up in this way!)
6. Fill out the menu with inexpensive side dishes. If you have lots of other inexpensive side dishes and munchies, you will be able to get by on less meat and no one will even be looking for seconds. And this is what most of the guests will be bringing if you follow tip #1, so it’s a win win. Cheaper for them to bring, and it saves you on the more expensive meat purchases too. Try some of these:
- Home made guacamole (a party favorite and cheap when avocados are on sale.
- Red Lobster Copy cat cheddar bay biscuits
- German Potato salad
7. Don’t forget to turn off the grill. This one is easy to forget but adds to the cost. Just remember to turn off the grill when the cooking is done so that you won’t be using extra gas with it just sitting there and not cooking. 8. Why pay for ice? Sure, you can buy it at the local store, but if you plan ahead and freeze your own ice from your ice maker in plastic bags, you will have all you need on BBQ day. Just store it in an upright freezer for the week ahead and bring it out when you fill up the coolers. You’ll save a few dollars on each bag of ice and that adds up with a big party. 9. Think ahead and buy on sale. So many things that you use for a BBQ often go on sale. Some of them really don’t go off, so buying them when they are on sale makes sense. Charcoal is one of those things. If you are really a planner, you can even buy it at the end of the season for next year. (sort of like Christmas decorations the day after Christmas) And don’t forget to make use of BJs, Sam’s Club and Costco if you have a membership there. This is one of those times that those huge bottles of relish, ketchup and mustard won’t go to waste! 10. Ditch the paper plates. No one wants a big clean up after a party and paper plates are disposable but a very inexpensive way to go is plastic plates that can be reused at another time. Yes, you will have to wash them but it will save on your bill for the party. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather eat from one of the plastic plates than a floppy paper one anyway. 11. Practice makes perfect. No matter how frugal you are, if you burn the meat when you are cooking it, you will spend more than you need to. Practice on family until you have it right before hand instead of trying it out for the first time on your guests. 12. Don’t waste the fuel. The grill only needs to be on high for the beginning of the cooking, and the charcoal does not need to be piled a mile high for it to work. Use only what you need to save money.
13. Be a coupon clipper and buy on sale. All this takes is a bit of planning ahead and you will save a lot of money on your BBQ grocery bill. I rarely pay full price for meat even when I am not having a party. Each week when I shop, I buy extra of what is on sale and put it in the freezer. All meat will keep well for several months. The one thing I don’t buy ahead of time and freeze are hamburger and hot dog buns. Even though you CAN freeze them, they really don’t keep fresh for long in a freezer. Instead I buy them from my local BJS a few days before the party in large containers. It’s still cheaper than a local grocery store and fresh. Nothing is worse than a stale hamburger bun, in my opinion! 14. Bone in cuts are best. Not only are they usually cheaper to purchase, but for barbecues, they also rock. Meat cooked on the grill that has a bone still in it always ends up so much more tender. 15. Take care of your grill. Barbecue grills can be very expensive. But if you take the time to maintain your grill it will last so much longer and that means money saving. Would you cook on your stove and never clean it? Then why would you do that with your outdoor grill? Clean the grill grates and get the gunk off that drips down in it. A little bit of time spent on this task will be a big money saver in the long run. Looking for some tips to make this the best Barbecue ever? See my 25 top grilling tips.
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