When the sun comes out and the summer months roll around, it’s time to take that dusty barbecue cover off and get to grilling! But if you’re living on a tight budget, you may not feel like you have the money to be throwing backyard barbecues on a regular basis for your friends and family. And what’s a summer without some backyard grilling with good company?
The great news is that if you organize yourself in advance and have a few summer savings tips up your sleeve, you may still be able to spend your summer evenings barbecuing away for friends without stressing over your finances. Here are seven savings tips to help you save on your summertime barbecuing.
If you’re going to be barbecuing throughout the summer, there’s a good chance you’ll be grilling up some meat at some point. The tricky thing here is that meat can get pricey if you’re not careful about what cuts you’re buying. But your tight budget doesn’t have to stop you from buying meat.
If you’re looking for a great alternative to expensive steaks and other pricey cuts, chicken may be your best bet. It’s versatile, full of flavor, and relatively inexpensive. Drumsticks, thighs, and even a whole chicken can usually be found for a good price, but according to a 2019 USDA report, chicken leg quarters should be at the top of your list when you’re looking to maximize your savings on chicken. They’re the cheapest cut at $1.07 a pound on average, and they’ll also give you the highest percentage of edible meat (70 to 75 percent).
When most people think of barbecuing, they think of a fat steak or a rack of ribs slowly cooking away, but your grill can also add a whole new dimension to your veggies. Opting to cook more veggies to replace the meat that you may normally cook can be a great way to keep the cost of your barbecuing low. They’re typically cheaper during the summer and there are all sort of great vegetable recipes out there for the grill.
If you want to find a good deal on vegetables but don’t want to wait till the end of the week when nearly stale veggies start to go on sale, you’ll want to buy what’s in season. Start by visiting your local farmers’ market and keep your eyes peeled for what’s most commonly available. It also helps to talk to the vendors and get more of an idea of what you should be looking for.
Another savings tip for your trip to the farmers’ market is to wait until the end of the day to make your purchase. Vendors are looking to sell as much of their product as they can, so they’ll generally start to lower their prices at the end of the day and bundle different combinations of items together. Buy what you can and freeze everything you don’t think you’ll eat during the course of your week.
If you want more savings tips for cooking at home, take a look at this guide.
If your backyard barbecue is a little more than just a casual gathering of friends, you might want to decorate your backyard to make things a little more festive. But you don’t need to break the bank just to spruce things up a little.
Start by taking a trip to the dollar store; you should be able to find plenty of inexpensive party decorations. If you want to get creative and have a flair for crafts, you’ll find an endless number of backyard party decoration ideas on Pinterest to inspire you. If you think you’ll host more backyard barbecues throughout the summer, keep these decorations for the next time.
Stocking up on food to grill doesn’t just have to apply to your trips to the farmers’ market. If you have a membership at a warehouse chain like Costco, then this is a great place to keep an eye out for meat in bulk at any point of the year. The summer is also a great time to find deals for food to barbecue in general. You can often find sales at grocery stores for barbecue items in the summertime, particularly around holidays. For example, typical barbecue fare like burgers, hotdogs, and ribs can often be found on sale during the Fourth of July weekend. If you do end up finding great deals on meat in bulk, it might be worth it to buy a freezer specifically for all the extra meat you’re picking up.
If you’re on a tight budget and your plan is to supply everyone at your barbecue with a cold drink, you should think again. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have any alcohol on hand for your guests, all it means is that you don’t need be spending hundreds of dollars on drinks for everyone.
Instead, make a batch of a specific cocktail, make a large amount of ice-tea, or infuse some water with fruit. These are great options if you want to give guests something refreshing to quench their thirst with, but don’t want to break the bank on drinks.
You could find the best possible deals on food, but they would still cost more than if you simply had the food provided for you for free. If you have a potluck, that’s exactly what you’re getting. While it’s still a good idea for you to provide some food, a potluck will cut down on some of the costs and you’ll also have a variety of different dishes for everyone to try. One tip to help you with this process is to make sure everyone is assigned a food category to bring a dish for, just so there isn’t a lot of overlap between dishes.
When you have to find time to make food on the barbecue, get your backyard set up for guests, and prepare some sort of drink for everyone to sip on, you may want to cut some corners when it comes to side dishes. This may make it much more tempting to pick up pre-made sides at the grocery store, but pre-made dishes will usually cost more than if you put them together yourself. All you need is a little extra time and effort!
If you want to serve a fruit salad, get fruit that’s in season like we mentioned earlier and cut it up yourself. Serving guacamole? Make it yourself! Before going out and buying pre-made sides, do some research to see what’s involved with putting it together on your own. This could be a great way to save a few extra bucks.
Having your friends and family over for a backyard barbecue can be a great way to enjoy the summer months, but feeding large groups of people on a regular basis doesn’t come cheap. Your tight budget doesn’t need to stop you from firing up the grill, though!
These savings tips can help you cut back on the cost of your summer barbecuing so you can enjoy grilling up some grub for friends without breaking the bank. Now that you have a better idea of how to take some of the pressure off your summer budget, get that grill going and enjoy what the summer has to offer!