You don’t have to cut the fun of your summer barbecue to cut the cost. Your first step to a budget-friendly BBQ should be to cash in your Fetch coins for gift card rewards to Target or Wal-Mart (remember to snap your latest receipts first!). Now that you’ve turned those points into a bigger barbecue budget, we’ve got some tips on how you can make the most out of your money.
Skip the pricey cuts
We can’t deny the appeal of a good brisket, but when you’re hosting a summer barbecue, the work you do to the meat matters so much more. So, skip the pricey cuts and consider buying poultry whole. Here are 4 of our go-tos for your summer BBQ:
- Ground Beef: For some folks, a barbecue is just a cookout, and you’ll have guests expecting burgers. You can get creative with them, of course. Work some of your favorite sauce into the meat before tossing them on the grill or slice up some fresh onions, tomatoes and lettuce for your toppings. Good, juicy burgers have upwards of 20% fat, so you can skip the more expensive lean ground beef.
- Pork Ribs: With about half of the weight being bone, ribs have a reputation as an expensive barbecue centerpiece. Pork ribs can cost $1-2 per pound less than beef ribs, though, and that makes them the perfect price for a side dish in your budget-friendly barbecue. Think of your ribs like a partner to your mac and cheese or corn on the cob.
- Whole Chicken: Whether on your grill or in a smoker, a whole chicken unlocks a ton of options and saves you about $1 per pound over buying pre-cut chicken. You can smoke it whole, butterfly it, or even just carve it up yourself to cook however you see fit.
- Whole Turkey: Turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving, and buying it out of season means you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the price. Your imagination is your only limit for how to cook a whole Turkey, though we’re a fan of deep frying.
These are just starting points, though. Talk with your butcher and let them know your plans; you might be surprised how affordable an uncommon cut of typically expensive meat might be.
Skip the paper and plastic, save the planet and your wallet
It’s one thing to spend a bit extra to get the meat or drinks you want, but one of the surest ways to trim your barbecue budget is to use your plates and silverware. Paper plates and plastic silverware can be convenient, but you’ll also have leftovers that might not cross your mind until the next summer BBQ. So check to see if you have any leftover paper plates and plastic silverware, then break out your everyday plates, bowls, forks and knives.
Say hello to Costco and build your budget barbecue in bulk
Everything we’ve said already goes double in bulk. While Costco is the first bulk retailer most folks think of, you’ve likely got a few options (like BJ’s or Sam’s Club). Wherever you shop, buying in bulk usually translates into savings. Worried you’ll overbuy and need to grill out for the next week to work through your bulk meat buy? Well, that might be a good problem to have for some of you, but you can toss your bulk BBQ buys into the freezer for the next cookout.
- Frozen ground beef lasts 3-4 months
- Frozen hot dogs can last 1-2 months
- Frozen poultry can last 12 months when it’s whole (shave that down to 9 months for cut poultry)
- Frozen beef, lamb, or pork can last up to 12 months
Want to buy in bulk without a Costco membership? There’s a hack for that.
Put your decor to work
The meat is sure to be the centerpiece of your summer barbecue, but you might be surprised at how much money you can save by making some smart decor changes.
- Relocate flowers and plants to your patio or deck to spruce up your dining area without splurging on cut or arranged flowers.
- Get creative with fresh fruit as a side dish. A melon baller, skewers and some creativity can go a long way to turn a fruit side dish into a delicious decoration.
BYOBBQ: Have your guests bring their favorite side
You’re hosting the barbecue. You’re planning. You’re decorating. You’re cooking. Your guests can help a bit, too. You’ve probably already got some of them bringing a six- or twelve-pack of their favorite drink, and you should invite them to bring their favorite barbecue side dish, too. Quite a few families have a side dish they’re proud to show off for a feast, so make your BBQ a BYOBBQ and let yourself focus on all the other things you’ve got to worry about.
Snap your receipts every day and save
Fetch makes it easy to get a little something extra with every receipt, and you don’t have to limit yourself to your budget-friendly barbecue. Save money on groceries every day, then snap that receipt, get your points and save some more!
David Fairbanks is a writer, science educator and Chicagoan fueled by coffee. He's written about everything from Ferraris to handcrafted pet urns to Superman, and he genuinely loves loyalty/rewards programs.