The weather has been quite finicky lately. It is frustrating when I desperately want to host a few BBQ parties in my backyard. We usually have people over multiple times throughout the summer. The kids can play, the adults can relax and it can be a great way for everyone to get together.
Last year it was all over the news, the cost of beef and pork went up at a very significant rate right before summer. Prices increased between 11 to 12 percent according to CBC.ca. That is six times the current inflation rate, which is hovering around two percent. Macleans.ca has a nice little graph that can show us a little but more about the rising cost of food, specifically for a BBQ. They looked at eight BBQ staples including ground beef, hot dogs, cheese slices, bread, onions, tomatoes, ketchup, and pop. These eight staples have gone up from costing around $18 in 2004 to now costing closer to $30. Very few people will host a BBQ party and only buy those eight items. If you choose to serve meats that are more expensive and add some alcohol, the price of your BBQ parties is going to add up very quickly over the summer. Here are three tips to help you save money on your next backyard BBQ party.
Be Selective With Meat
Meat is one place to watch the sales carefully as the prices can a lot from week to week. My husband and I enjoy fish on the grill quite a bit, but the cost of fish can be pricey compared to other types of meat. We carefully scan the ads of our local grocery stores to see who has the best price, and we jump when the price is good. I have a secret weapon, have you tried the Flipp app? If you are an apple user, you can download it free on the iTunes store or Android users can download it free at the Google Play Store. This app allows you to search local grocery ads around you. Since meat is one of the priciest items for a BBQ, you can quickly search your local ads and decide which store to shop at and what to buy. For more great grocery apps, check out this past article Save Even More Money With These Convenient Flyer Apps.
Another option if you are cooking for a crowd is to cook a mix of meats, which can cut down on cost. I like throwing smoked kielbasa from my local butcher on the grill. I find it is an unexpected treat for most guests when I serve it. You can also cut costs by including cuts of meat on the bone. My husband makes amazing grilled chicken thighs by cooking them on low indirect heat, and chicken drumsticks are usually a hit with kids. Cooking meat on the bone also helps to add more flavour.
Add Extra Vegetables To The Grill
While the cost of meat is pushing upwards very quickly, the cost of vegetables is not rising quite as fast. In the summertime, produce costs tend to go down. Watch for sales on vegetables that are in season and then feature those vegetables on your grill. I suggest investing in a grill pan such as this Webber, which will make sautéing veggies quick. You can also cook veggies in foil packets or on skewers to ensure your vegetables do not fall through your grill. Here are some ideas of vegetables (and fruit!) that can be thrown on the grill easily.
- Zucchini or Yellow Squash
- Bell Peppers
- Corn: Soak in a little water before you grill for a better result.
- Green Beans
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Pineapple: This is hands down my favourite thing to grill! You must try it!
Any sauce you would add to your grilled meat, you could also put on veggies. Make sure you do not cross contaminate sauce that has touched raw meat with your veggies. You can also use almost any oil-based salad dressing for a quick sauce on your veggies. Most vegetables cook up quickly, so save them for the end when your meat is almost finished. Eating Well has a great list of tips for grilling vegetables so they are delicious.
Offer Drinks In A Pitcher
Many times I have attended a BBQ where wine, beer, juice, and soda flow freely. As the host, you want to ensure your guests are comfortable. You can cut back on the total amount of drinks you offer by ensuring that you have a nice large pitcher of ice cold water available alongside your other offerings. Most of us will pace ourselves with the sweeter drinks when water is also an option. You can make your offer more enticing by slicing an orange or other fruit into your water pitcher.
While we are talking drinks, you can mix up a pitcher to make your alcohol go a little further. My pitcher drink of choice for summer is Sangria. We buy quite a bit of fruit throughout the summer, but any leftover I throw in a bag in my freezer. That bag has raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and peaches that are perfect for smoothies, homemade popsicles and throwing in Sangria! You can also puree the mixture from the freezer to add to your pitcher if the fruit ugly. No one will be the wiser. Buzzfeed also has a fantastic list of Sangria ideas, many of which are very inexpensive to make.
I generally mix up a pitcher of something without alcohol also, such as lemonade. I might buy a small pack of beer depending on who is attending the party. If a guest brings a bottle of wine, I will often crack that open to share.
Bargainmoosers, what tips do you have for saving money on a backyard BBQ party?