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How to Barbecue on a Budget

The barbecue season is now getting into full swing as we look to make the most of predicted soaring summer temperatures.

And what better way to enjoy some summer fun than by bringing family and friends together in an al fresco setting with mouth-watering aromas of sizzling sausages and juicy burgers? The only potential problem is the cost of hosting your barbecue party, particularly with food prices remaining high.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to organise a barbecue. In fact, with a little planning it can be a really cheap way of entertaining.

In this post, you’ll find out all you need to know about barbecuing on a budget.

How to Save Money on Barbecue Food

Food – especially meat – can be a large barbecue expenditure, but there are ways to keep costs down.

Avoid expensive steaks and other prime cuts of meat in favour of more affordable options such as:

  • Brisket or flank.
  • Chicken thighs and legs instead of chicken breasts.
  • Cheap tins of hot dog sausages.

Burgers and Sausages

Burgers and sausages are, of course, a BBQ staple, and you don’t have to go for expensive gourmet varieties.

Barbecue guests are usually happy to eat whatever is served up and appreciate that someone else is doing the cooking for them.

Make Your Own BBQ Burgers

It’s cheaper to make your own barbecue burger patties compared with buying pre-packaged burgers. Burgers are also easy to make and full of flavour.

  • Whisk together eggs, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
  • Add minced beef and bread crumbs and mix with a fork or your hands until well blended.
  • Form into 3/4-inch-thick patties.

You can make your burger patties go farther by adding grated potatoes and pureed vegetables into the mix to fill them out.

Make Your Own Marinade

Marinades make barbecued meat even more flavoursome, and you don’t have to buy expensive bottles of the stuff.

You can make a great marinade from standard store cupboard ingredients such as:

  • Vegetable oil.
  • Ketchup.
  • Cloves of garlic.
  • White vinegar.
  • Brown sugar.
  • Soya sauce.
  • Chilli powder.

Simply mix ingredients like these in a bowl and keep the marinade in the fridge until you fire up the barbecue.

As well as providing the ingredients for an inexpensive marinade, a quick forage through your store cupboards or pantry can also avoid unnecessary spending on duplicate purchases at the supermarket.

You may find you already have items such as bottled barbecue sauce or bags of pretzels or crisps, for instance.

Offer Plenty of BBQ Side Dishes

When planning your BBQ menu, side dishes can play an important role in cutting costs. And the more budget-friendly sides you offer your guests, the less you’ll need to spend on expensive meat.

Popular barbecue side staples include:

  • Chips.
  • Pretzels.
  • Crisps.
  • Beans.
  • Macaroni salad and potato salad.
  • Grilled vegetables.
  • Coleslaw.
  • Watermelon. Offering this level of variety not only shows off your hosting abilities, it also allows your guests to fill up on tasty treats that cost a lot less than meat.

How to Save Money on Barbecue Refreshments

While alcoholic drinks, fruit juice and fizzy drinks are refreshing during a barbecue, the cost can soon mount up.

Why not ask guests to bring their own refreshments so you won’t be the only one providing the drinks but have some in stock just in case.

Anyone for a Cocktail?

If you want to offer cocktails to your BBQ guests, you can mix up a variety of drinks with just a few essentials.

You could also try making your own lemonade using fresh lemon juice, water and sugar – a classic barbecue favourite on a hot summer’s day.

A further way to save on barbecue drinks is to make plenty of iced tea and iced water available as well.

You can infuse water with extra taste and visual appeal by adding slices of lemon or cucumber and serving it up in a glass pitcher.

How to Cook Economically with a Barbecue Grill

If you have a charcoal barbecue grill, there’s no need to fill it to the brim with fuel. A single layer across the bottom of the pit will give you one to two hours of cooking time.

If you’re barbecuing with gas, you don’t always have to use the highest setting. Heat the grill up and then reduce the gas supply and use the barbecue lid to maintain heat. Remember to always be careful, as the grill can get very hot.

There’s also no need to buy expensive BBQ utensil kits. All you need is a good pair of tongs, a spatula, and a food brush – a small, unused paint brush will do the job nicely.

If there’s room, add some sides like vegetables to the grill as you cook your meat.

Maintaining Your Barbecue Grill

Taking proper care of your barbecue grill is essential to prolong its lifespan and avoid the cost of a replacement.

  • Use a grill spray to prevent food from sticking.
  • Scrub off food, fat and oils before the grill has cooled down completely (do not scrub off the grill whilst it’s still hot though!)
  • Once the grill is cold, use a damp cloth to wipe off food spillage.
  • If you have a charcoal grill, discard the used charcoal.
  • If you have a gas grill, clean the catch-pan liner, and replace it when necessary.
  • Invest in a waterproof cover for your grill if it doesn’t already have one.

Carry On Barbecuing!

Armed with our budget barbecue tips, there’s plenty to get excited about during the rest of the 2023 BBQ season.

Best of all? Knowing how to barbecue on a budget means you can now afford to throw more barbecue parties through the rest of the summer.

Posted in Budgeting on Sep 18, 2023.

Jason Bovington

Written by Jason Bovington - COO

Jason became Chief Operating Officer in July 2022. He joined Everyday Loans initially in 2006 as part of the start up team implementing the credit risk strategy and building the analytical capability as Head of Credit Risk and Analytics. In his time with Everyday Loans he has also held the roles of Chief Risk Officer and Chief Credit Officer. Prior to joining Everyday Loans Jason spent 10 years at HFC Bank with his last role there being Credit Risk Director and prior to that he was part of the Credit Risk team at Lloyds TSB.

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