May is here and that means the kick-off to summer with a Memorial Day BBQ. Summer is so exciting when it comes to food because there is nothing quite as great as hanging out in your own backyard cooking dinner and enjoying the beautiful weather. Hosting a BBQ can have its expenses, though, so here are some tips for hosting a BBQ that fits your budget
Be smart about buying meat. There are several ways to save money on meat that are great for backyard BBQs. One is to buy meat that is bone-in. It is usually cheaper than trimmed meat and it tastes better on the grill because it keeps it from getting to dry. You can also do a “BYOM” (Bring Your Own Meat) type of BBQ where everyone brings their own and the biggest expense is covered.
Skip paper dinnerware. It seems easy to clean and it’s not too expensive here and there, but buying some plastic dinnerware on discount such as after 4th of July or Easter is a better idea for your budget. Plastic plates are generally very easy to clean, anyway.
Make it a potluck. BBQs are usually casual enough that no one will have a problem with you asking them to bring a side dish, appetizer or dessert. If you are supplying the location, drinks and main course, it won’t be too expensive if others supply the extras.
Cook in season. If you are going to be making all the food, the best thing to do is cook in season. This means making dishes out of produce that is at its peak. You can usually get lower priced produce at Farmer’s markets as well. Did you know meat has a season as well? Ask your local farmer what is in season and what they have extra of and they may be able to sell it to you at a discounted rate if you buy in bulk. I once did this and was astonished at how low cost you can get meat directly from the farm.
Use coupons to get the best deals on BBQ necessities. Before 4th of July, there are often a lot of sales on condiments, for example. Stock up then for the entire season so you won’t have to pay full price the next time. I have often found that you can even get them for free!
Check out craigslist or Freecycle for items such as tablecloths, BBQ Tools, BBQ’s, backyard games and even leftovers from weddings such as napkins that people may be giving away.
Skip alcohol and do a dry BBQ. Since alcohol is a huge expense, skipping it will save you a lot of money. If you really want to include it, make your BBQ a BYOB one.
Keep the food simple. You don’t have to serve a five star meal in order for it to be memorable. Simple things like burgers, hot dogs, potato salad and cold veggies with dip are all great BBQ food.
To keep the cost of drinks down, do punch served in a pitcher with a spout. It is low cost and keeps the bugs out. You could even do iced tea or fresh squeezed lemonade for low cost as well.