Summer BBQ on a Budget

By Chef Heather Hunsaker

With school out for summer, outdoor activities are in full swing. One fun summer time activity is outdoor grilling. Barbeques are a great way to celebrate summer holidays such as Independence Day and Labor Day, or to simply celebrate the carefree days of summer. Even if you are on a tight budget this summer, a laid-back backyard barbecue is an inexpensive way to enjoy time with friends and family.

To save money without sacrificing all the fun, simply follow these tips, for a budget-friendly barbecue:

1. The meat: One way to keep costs low is to choose only one protein to serve. If hot dogs are on sale at the grocery store, grill hot dogs and set up a hot dog ‘bar’ with all the popular toppings. Also save money by being resourceful and using what you already have on hand. Grill chicken or shrimp if that is what you have. Keeping it simple with only one main protein saves time and money.

2. Side dishes: Potato salad, coleslaw, and baked beans are all popular and fairly inexpensive barbeque side dishes. However, if you are looking to keep things easy and inexpensive, stick with fresh veggies. Summertime means an overwhelming amount of fresh, seasonal vegetables which are available at low prices. Corn on the cob, zucchini and squash all grill beautifully.

3. Dessert: With fresh summer fruit available try grilling some peaches, making a cobbler or simply enjoying some fresh berries with homemade whipped cream.

4. Beverages: Lemonade and iced tea are extremely inexpensive and will keep your guests cool in the heat of the summer. If you are looking for a cost effective way to serve alcoholic beverages, choose one variety of beer to serve, one specialty drink or ask guests to bring their own.

5. Serving: While paper plates and plastic cups may be convenient for gatherings, they add extra unnecessary costs. Using what you have on hand will keep your shopping list down to the essentials.

About the Author

Chef Heather attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family friendly meals since she was nine years old in her mother’’s kitchen. She is an avid crockpotter and knows how to get food on the table in a pinch. She currently serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site Food on the Table.

*Image: federico stevanin /*