One of the things I love about summer is the barbecue. I think it’s fund to gather together friends and family, and then have a barbecue. However, if you do a lot of outdoor entertaining, it can start to get expensive. If you are looking for ways to save a little money on the barbecue this summer, here are some tips:
1. Bring Your Own
The classic barbecue frugal tip is to have guests bring their own. They can bring whatever type of meat they want — or other items to grill, including fish, veggies, and tofu/soy based meat substitutes. Not only can this save you money, but it also ensures that everyone is happy with the barbecue offerings.
Even if you don’t have your guests bring their own meat, it’s possible to have them bring their own drinks. This is a great way to make sure that everyone has the drink he or she wants, and it can save you money — especially if your guests prefer alcoholic drinks.
2. Pot Luck
Perhaps you want to provide the meat and the drinks. You can reduce your costs in other areas by asking guests to bring something to share with everyone. Assign out chips, fruit bowl, veggie tray, buns, condiments, and other items. You can even ask someone to bring the paper plates, napkins, and cups. If you are doing a themed barbecue, ask someone to bring decorations. This will help you save a little money on the affair, and ensure that everyone has a good time.
3. Consider Plastic Dinnerware
If you are serious about providing barbecue entertainment, you can purchase inexpensive, reusable plastic dinnerware. The initial outlay is a little bit more, but you can reuse the plates, cups, and utensils year after year. You won’t have to keep buying the paper versions (which can get expensive). The clean up isn’t too bad, either, as long as you get dinnerware that is dishwasher safe.
4. Carefully Consider Your Meat Purchases
Those who like providing the meat can do so less expensively by taking care to consider what they choose. Bone-in steaks are often less expensive than boneless varieties (and it helps keep the meat from drying out). You can also buy ground beef and form your own patties, rather than buying pre-made patties. Another option is to make kabobs. You use less meat, and more veggies, so you can keep the costs down. Get creative, and you will find that you don’t spend as much money on your barbecues.
5. Buy Your Grill Items Off Season
Finally, if you want to save more money over time, you should buy your grill items in the off season, and on sale. Get a grill in the fall, and you can get it for much less. The same is true of cooking utensils, as well as outdoor furniture and other items. You can also get charcoal, propane and other related items on discount if you are vigilant about prices. Pay attention, and you can save more over time, and reduce the per-barbecue cost of your outdoor entertaining.