This summer, you can expect to spend as much as 60% more on the meat you purchase for your backyard barbecue than you did last year. Why? Because of last year’s drought, corn prices skyrocketed and many farmers were forced to cut the sizes of their herds. Consequently, the beef supply has suffered.
While a big, juicy steak or thick hamburger is an American tradition that is intrinsically linked to Independence Day and many other summer holidays, you’ll spend more this summer if you choose not to change or modify your menu.
Here are some ways you can still have meat on your grill without an outrageous grocery bill.
6 Ways to Save on Your Summer BBQs
1. Buy locally.
Meat directly from a farmer is usually cheaper. This is because you buy in bulk, and farmers don’t charge you for packaging, shipping, name brands, or the extra markup retailers need to make a profit. Buying your meat this way is also a great way to show support for farmers and your local community.
2. Shop for the best price.
If you must buy your beef from a supermarket, shop around for the best price and utilize price matching. You could save as much as a dollar a pound by utilizing advertisements and coupons.
3. Ask for others to chip in.
Everyone knows that meat is one of the most expensive items for a barbecue. If you’re hosting more than just your immediate family, consider politely asking for other people to chip in some of the cost. If you’re not comfortable doing this, make it a pot-luck so you’ll be spending less money — and time.
4. Make smaller burgers and use fillers.
Simply put, the smaller you make your burgers, the less overall meat you’ll use. Buy ground beef so you can create your own patties. Consider making small sliders instead of full-sized burgers, or even mixing vegetables, black beans, bread crumbs, and other fillers in your burgers.
Yes, this sounds like blasphemy to the die-hard meat eater, but your guests won’t notice the difference; if anything, adding other ingredients will enhance the flavor of your burgers.
5. Use other types of meat.
Beef prices are the most affected this summer, so pork, chicken, and turkey will be cheaper (and can even be healthier since they’re more lean). Mix another meat with beef in your burgers, so you can still enjoy the flavor at half the price.
Remember that barbecued chicken is also a great grill item. Choose a variety of breast, drumstick, and thigh pieces to please everyone. Meat-lovers may prefer beef, but who’s going to complain when they’re fed good barbecue chicken?
6. Shift your menu’s focus to other foods.
Again, this may be difficult if your family members are meat-lovers, but if you make the side dishes interesting enough, you can use less meat and still impress your guests. Vegetable and meat skewers are a great way to use less meat and still feel like you used the grill. You can even grill your fruit, potatoes, and corn. Focus on sides, salads, and desserts more than meat.
Even though beef seems outrageously expensive this summer, keep in mind that it’s still much cheaper than it is in some places. And, if you’re diet-conscious, just look at high beef prices as a way to reinforce your goals to eat less red meat and more vegetables. Many of us would do well to reconsider our beef consumption — regardless of the price of a pound of ground chuck.
And finally, beef doesn’t have to make or break your barbecue. Get creative, do things a little differently, and you might just set a new summer barbecue tradition.
Do you have any tips on hosting BBQs for less?