Five easy grilling ideas to save money on your next cookout. You can host a great barbecue this summer even if you’re on a budget.

Grilling for a cookout full of loved ones is one of my favorite summer traditions. It’s a great time to catch up, watch the kids play and bask in the warmth of the summer sun. As much fun as it is, hosting a barbecue for friends and family can be stressful when you’re on a budget. 

The good news is if you spend a little time planning ahead you’ll save money and make it easier to relax and connect with friends and family on the day of the party.

Easy Grilling Idea #1: Treat Your Grill Right

You made an investment in your grill and you want to do what you can to make it last as long as possible. Regular maintenance is a must. Taking the time to clean it off before and after each use, removing ashes once they’ve cooled and oiling the grate are a few common grill maintenance practices. You’ll want to check the information booklet that comes with your grill to see if it has specific maintenance needs. 

If you treat your grill right there’s no telling how long it could last. I know some folks who have been cooking on the same grill for at least 20 years. 

(And by the same token, if you’re buying a new grill this year, it’s better to buy one that’ll last over the years rather than a cheap grill that will fall apart (or rust away completely) after a year. That’s what happened to Best Money Moves CEO Ilyce Glink. The first bigger grill she and her husband, Sam, bought rusted away within a year. They bought another cheap grill and the same thing happened. They’ve been using their Weber (grill #3) for more than 10 years.)

Easy Grilling Idea #2: Don’t Blow Your Budget on Meat

It doesn’t make sense to buy fancy cuts of meat when you’re grilling for a large group of people. Odds are, most of them will be pleased with tried-and-true standards like burgers, hot dogs, chicken and bratwursts. You can also grill a turkey breast or an entire bird, which is likely to be the cheapest if you’re doing a large cut of meat or poultry. 

Another way to save money is to grill fruits and vegetables that are in season. Who doesn’t love grilled pineapple or corn on the cob? Whatever happens to be on sale at the grocery store that week should work well. If you don’t know how to grill something that’s selling for a great price it’s an excellent opportunity to learn. A quick web search should bring up plenty of recipes to help you figure it out.

Easy Cookout Idea #3: Make Enough for Leftovers

Grill some extra food to feed yourself for a couple of days after the barbecue. Leftovers are delicious on their own or can be used in plenty of different meals. Leftover grilled chicken, for example, can be used in dishes like salads, sandwiches, tacos and casseroles.

The key here is to make just a little extra. You don’t want to go overboard or else you risk throwing it out before you can finish it, wasting both the food and your money.

Easy Grilling Idea #4: Have Guests Bring a Dish

Ask your guests to bring a side dish or dessert in your invite. Or, ask them to contribute libations: Buying beer and wine for a thirsty crew can easily get expensive. If you ask your guests to bring drinks it allows for a mix of fun flavors, without breaking your bank. And, it gives them a chance to contribute to the gathering while crossing several items off of your list. If you’re worried about people bringing the same thing or not having enough for everyone, you can always ask guests to let you know what they plan to bring when they RSVP. 

Easy BBQ Idea #5: Learn From the Experts

If you aren’t a professional grill-master, it helps to arm yourself with a bit of knowledge before you get to grilling so you can avoid burnt food blunders. Take advantage of the thousands of step-by-step instructions and how-to videos online to learn techniques to help you achieve grilled perfection. For starters, try Ilyce’s popular video: How to Grill a Steak.


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