Summertime means lots of BBQs outdoors with the company you love having around most. Over the years, we've learned a tip or two to enjoy plenty of barbecues out back, without breaking the bank every summer.
Keep in mind these 5 tips to save at your BBQs all season long.
Cheap BBQ Tip #1: Make it a Potluck
One of the biggest costs at a barbeque is the menu. It's tough to feed a crowd on a short budget. Rather than bending over backwards to find sales or bargain buys, why not have guests try to bring their own meat to the party for a more variety-filled BBQ experience?
Host a "bring your own meat" barbeque by asking guests to bring whatever they want to grill to the party.
This is a brilliant money-saving strategy for two reasons:
You don't have to shell out over $100 to feed all your family and friends.
Guests get to spend as much as they feel comfortable spending and still enjoy exactly what they like.
Oil tycoon Uncle Charlie can bring four filet mignons while family members on a budget can chow down on tasty burgers and hot dogs. Likewise, the "bring your own meat" solution is perfect for vegetarian friends who can bring bell peppers, tomatoes and onions to enjoy on the grill.
Keep the get-together casual and have a member of each family grill up dinner for everyone. This is easier if you host the BBQ at a park where there are multiple grills to use. Then, create one communal buffet table with salads, sides and apps for everyone to enjoy!
A great way to organize a potluck like this one is through the invitation you send out. For an informal summer party, why not use our online invitations? It's easy and fun to create a custom invite and manage guest or potluck lists, too.
Cheap BBQ Tip #2: Serve Beer & Wine, Skip the Liquor
Aside from purchasing the meat to grill, one of the biggest barbeque expenses is the alcohol.
Serve beer and wine instead of hard alcohol to save money while still providing the buzz. You can get an inexpensive, yet still delightful jug of wine for as little as $6.99. And let guests know they're welcome to bring their own. Save even more by checking the local grocery store deals in their weekly mailers and shop the brand on sale.
For non-alcoholic beverages, provide a few different types of soda for your guests as well as flavored water you can make yourself. Instead of buying pricey individual sized sodas in cans or bottles, buy one or two liter bottles and keep them in an ice bucket to stay chilled during the barbeque. and then slicing limes, lemons, oranges, berries, etc. to infuse it with a citrus or fruity flavor. Guests will still have their soft drink of choice, and you will save a bundle by buying the liter bottles instead of cans.
And remember water is free! Jazz yours up by pouring it into a decorative dispenser and throwing in an umbrella!
Cheap BBQ Tip #3: Less Expensive Cuts of Meat
If you choose to provide food instead of asking guests to bring their own, stick with less expensive cuts of meat. This includes ground beef, sausage, chicken legs and/or thighs, pork cutlets, etc.
Chicken breasts are much pricier than breasts that still have rib meat attached, but are equally tasty on the grill. Purchase whatever is on sale for that week at your local grocer; summer deals abound for barbeque meats at the grocery store.
If you haven't already, sign up for your favorite grocery stores' club card or rewards card. Club card members save an extra percentage off their bill by getting a deeper discount on the sale items for that week.
And when shopping for large crowds it's always a good idea to check out a wholesale store like Costco's, BJ's or Sam's Club. These stores sell in bulk so you'll get more bang for your buck.
Finally, though grilling up meat is an essential part of BBQs, it's not the only type of food people will expect. Keep the meal balanced with fruit and veggie salads, pasta salads and beans. All of these recipes keep crowds in mind and are pretty inexpensive to make in bulk.
Cheap BBQ Tip #4: Buy BBQ Equipment Off-Season
If you need to replace your barbeque or barbeque tools before grilling season hits, make sure to buy them as soon as possible. Once summer is in full swing it is tough to find the equipment you need at a bargain price.
What if Summer's Here?
If your tools are wearing down but still have some life in them, hold off on buying new ones until mid-Fall. Yes, they won't be as pretty looking, but who cares? If they can do the job, that's all anyone will care about!
As soon as the leaves change stores will put all the summer grilling gear on clearance to clear their shelves for new seasonal merchandise, allowing the smart shopper to swoop in for a steal.
If, however, your tools are done-zo and you need a replacement take a few minutes to research. You never know if Target, Home Depot, Lowe's or your even your local dollar store might be having a sale just in time!
Cheap BBQ Tip #5: Reusable Plates, Cups & Utensils
While disposable plates, cups, napkins and flatware are undeniably convenient for barbeque cleanup, they are also an unnecessary expenditure. By using the glasses, plates and silverware you already own you can save $20 - $35 dollars worth of disposable items.
If you are short on some of the basics needed to host the party (glassware, silverware, etc.), consider heading to a discount home goods store instead of buying disposable items. Four glasses can be purchased for under $10, and they will serve you for years and many barbeques to come, unlike disposable cups.
Plus, using your own glasses is definitely more environmentally friendly than creating bags full of disposable Styrofoam, plastic and paper!