summer cookout

5 Tips for Throwing a Summer Cookout Without Breaking Your Budget

Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner and with it comes the beginning of the summer cookout season. Follow these five tips and entertain your friends all summer long without putting stress on your bank account.

Use Weekly Sales Ads to Plan Your Summer Cookout Menu

Check out your local market’s weekly sales pages before deciding on your cookout menu. Don’t be afraid to stock up when favorites like hot dogs and hamburger meat are on sale. More expensive cuts of meat like steak and boneless chicken breasts can also be bought on sale and frozen until you need them.

If you have a complicated recipe you’re dying to try, stop by The Dollar Tree or a similar discount store before you head to your regular market. You’ll likely find spices, sauces, and other ingredients you wouldn’t normally keep on hand. The bulk section of Whole Foods and health food stores is also a great place to shop for less common ingredients. You’ll be able to buy the exact amount your recipe calls for instead of paying a higher price for spices you don’t normally use.

Keep it Simple and Seasonal

Seasonal products are always less expensive than off season products. They taste better too! Summer is a great time to serve fresh favorites. Think outside the box to keep your guests from getting bored with the same old salad or grilled ear of corn. Grill whole hearts of romaine and toss them with a fresh herb vinaigrette. Or, char watermelon slices for a unique, healthy dessert.

Stretch Proteins with Inexpensive Staples

Why serve a boneless chicken breast as a single sandwich when you can turn it into four or five kabobs? Instead of serving large portions of expensive proteins, stretch them with other summer cookout staples. Steaks, chicken, and shrimp are all great additions to vegetable kabobs or pasta salad. And don’t forget your vegan and vegetarian friends! Leave a few portions of your dishes meat free to ensure all your guests can enjoy them.

Supply Mixers and Ask Guests to BYOB

Supplying alcohol to all of your guests can get expensive fast. Stock your fridge instead of your bar. Buy a small variety of fruit and vegetable juices, soda, and flavored seltzers, and invite guests to bring their own alcohol. Pick up an inexpensive case of beer and a few bottles of lemonade so guests who don’t come prepared can make their own summer shandies. Or, mix a bottle of wine with juice, seltzer, and seasonal fruit for a refreshing sangria.

Don’t Forget the Entertainment!

Entertaining guests doesn’t have to be expensive. Stop by The Dollar Store for sidewalk chalk, water balloons, and inexpensive outdoor games. While you’re there, pick up a bright table cloth, paper lanterns, and other seasonal d├ęcor to add a festive vibe to your space. If you have the time and skills, stop by a hardware store for DIY lawn game supplies. Ring tosses, cornhole boards, and jumbo jenga are all inexpensive to make and will entertain guests of all ages. Customize the size of the games to accommodate the limited space of your patio or balcony.

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