For some of us, one of the best parts of summer involves time spent in front of a hot grill. Whether you’re roasting vegetables or making the perfect steak, the combination of fair weather, food, and friends/family is hard to beat. Depending on your menu and the number of guests, the cost of a single barbequing effort can be expensive, and multiple efforts across an entire summer can break your budget in a hurry. Here are five quick tips for managing the cost.
Make it a potluck: In some cases, treating your loved ones to a fully prepared meal is extremely satisfying, but if you’re the only one with a swimming pool and thus always the host, these costs add up. Having guests bring sides or dessert is pretty standard, but if you’re concerned about the level of effort this might impose, simpler requests include drinks, ice, plates, utensils, and activities for the kids (including the grown-up ones!).
Serve water: If you’re providing drinks for a crowd, the cost of sodas, juices, and/or alcohol can be one of the biggest expenses. Bottled water can be purchased in bulk at a relatively inexpensive cost, especially if you have access to stores like Costco. Alternatively, fill pitchers with water, plenty of ice, and various subtle flavorings (lemons, cucumbers, etc.) to spice things up a bit.
Use smaller plates: The smaller plates might not cost less money, but they can help you reduce waste. Bigger plates lead to bigger portions, some proportion of which will always end up in your trash can. With smaller plates, your guests can always grab second helpings if they’re still hungry, less food should find its way to the garbage, and you might have delicious leftovers for a couple days.
Grill more veggies: For many folks, meat is a big barbeque expense. Buying bulk or cheaper cuts of meat can help mitigate this, but vegetables are also a delicious grilled option that can be made in larger quantities for a lower cost. Your doctor and bank account are likely to agree that there are numerous benefits to this approach.
And about those activities… At some barbeques, the emphasis is totally on the food, with little else to pass the time. This can be just fine! If you’re looking to have your guests interact more while eating less, there is a wide range of backyard or outdoor-oriented activities for kids of all ages. Your guests will have a fun, memorable experience, and you’ll probably save yourself a little money.