Hosting a BBQ? These smart tips will help you save money while still allowing you to be a fun host and throw a great party!
BBQ season is upon us and there’s no better way to enjoy a summer day with friends and family than with a feast of freshly grilled foods in your backyard. Whether you’re planning a small gathering or a full-blown bash, there are many expenses you need to consider. From food and beverages to grilling equipment to decor, barbecuing costs can quickly add up fast and eat into your summer budget.
Luckily, there are many ways to cut the costs of your backyard soiree without cutting out all the fun. Follow these money-saving tips to host your next summer BBQ on a budget.
Tricks to Save Money on Your Next Barbecue
Meat typically makes up the biggest portion of your grocery budget, so it’s important to be mindful of which kinds you choose for the main dish. Since certain meats are more expensive than others, stick with cheaper cuts like whole chicken and flank steak to save money. Hamburgers and hot dogs are also a traditional favorite and of course, they’re cheaper, too. Look out for manager markdowns on meats nearing the expiration date to save anywhere from 30 to 60 percent. You can also find grocery coupons on sites like Coupons.com for deals on different types of meat like hamburgers, hot dogs and sausage. And of course, sometimes coupon apps like Ibotta and Checkout51 offer extra savings on meat too!
2. Do it yourself
Pre-cut foods like veggies and raw meat are convenient and save time, however, that convenience comes at a price (literally). In fact, the price of pre-made veggies and meats are 50 to 75 percent more costly than preparing your own! Plus they’re not as healthy since such processing causes nutrient loss due to the packaging process. Ultimately, it’s better to chop your own veggies and meat; the labor is worth saving money in the end. To save time, make it a family affair and get your kids involved by helping!
3. Invest in a quality grill
When it comes to grills, you want to find one that’s not only cost-efficient but will last too. If you’re trying to shop on a budget, compare different types of grills based on price and operating costs. Charcoal grills tend to be less expensive compared to gas grills and are also less costly to manage. A bestseller Weber Charcoal Grill runs around $99, whereas the bestseller Char-Broil 4-Burner Gas Grill will set you back a whopping $195! To save even more, watch for sales on charcoal at stores like The Home Depot and Lowe’s during popular holiday weekends this summer.
4. Buy in bulk selectively
Purchasing barbecue food essentials in bulk is often the smart way to save money when hosting a large group. However, not everything bought in large quantities is always the best deal, especially when it comes to perishable items that will spoil if you don’t consume them in their entirety. When buying in bulk, stick with non-perishables like condiments, canned vegetables or even frozen foods. Meats are also a good bulk buy because you can freeze leftovers. And don’t forget to browse the beverage selection to save up to 30 percent on drinks!
5. Go cheap on supplies
When it comes to supplies like paper plates, serve ware and table cloths, stick with cheap and generic options. Often the best place to shop is a dollar store like The Dollar Tree, which lives up to its name and carries items like spatulas, tongs and plastic serving dishes and bowls for exactly $1.00. And while you’re there, don’t forget to stock up on paper plates, napkins and utensils, as well as any seasonal decorations including balloons and banners. The items you’ll find at such stores will work just as well as the expensive name brands.
6. Make it a potluck
One of the easiest ways to save money on your next BBQ is to make it a potluck and ask that guests bring a favorite dish or beverage. Not only does this help cut your food costs and reduces the burden of preparing everything yourself, but it’s also a great way to get to try new recipes. Encourage guests to sign up for a specific appetizer, side or dessert so there aren’t too many duplicate dishes using a free service like SignUpGenius.com. For extra fun, you may even consider hosting an appetizer challenge in which guests vote on a favorite dish. Just make sure you have a prize for the winner like a sweet-scented candle or set of specialty barbecue sauces which you can snag for cheap at stores such as HomeGoods.
7. Stick with the season
Summer delivers some of my favorite produce like watermelon, strawberries, corn and peppers—all of which are perfect foods for any barbecue. When preparing your menu, look for recipes that use seasonal ingredients. Not only does sticking with what’s in season promise the ripest and freshest taste, you’ll also enjoy the cheapest price since stores typically have sales on in-season produce. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone either. For instance, consider adding watermelon or berries to freshen up a salad or serve grilled peaches as a side or with ice cream for dessert!
How do you save on your summer barbecues?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer-finance expert who is passionate about helping families find simple ways to save more and spend less without sacrificing their lifestyles. As a sought-after news contributor, Andrea has been interviewed by top shows such as NBC’s Today, Good Morning America, Dr. OZ, CNN, MSNBC, FOX & Friends, ABC World News and Inside Edition. In print and online, her stories and tips have been featured in Forbes, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, AOL Daily Finance, Reader’s Digest, Family Circle, Yahoo!, Huffington Post and many more. A New York native, Andrea now lives in Bakersfield, CA with her husband and rambunctious, Goldendoole, and is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her first child this August. Read more about Andrea and watch recent TV clips at www.AndreaWoroch.com.