How to Save Money On Your Backyard Cookout

I'm just loving the warmer weather! It reminds me that there are so many wonderful things about the Spring and Summer—swimming, sunshine, warmth, get-togethers and cookouts, spending the evening on our patio. Ahhhh, I love it!

Today, I'm so thrilled to welcome a wonderfully bargain-conscious guest blogger . . . Mrs. Not Made of Money!

And she's going to share with us her secrets for hosting a fabulous cookout that's easy on the wallet, too. When you're done soaking in all her great tips, be sure to visit her Web site and let her know you stopped by from BSP!

How to Save Money On Your Backyard Cookout

Creative Commons License Photo credit: raleighwoman
With the approach of Spring I know my mind has been on enjoying more of the outdoors. One of our favorite warm weather activities is grilling out in our backyard. It's so much fun to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family and even better knowing that I don't have to clean up the kitchen afterwards. We do keep our entertaining budget friendly though and have found several ways to enjoy our outdoor grilling and keep our finances in check at the same time. Here are some ways we've found to save money while still enjoying our backyard cookouts:

Be flexible about the main course. .
Hamburgers and hot dogs have long been a vital part of cooking on the grill. However, if you had healthier thoughts in mind, chicken is always a cost-effective meat choice. Being flexible will allow you to shop for a great price, as well as a great taste. I always make it a habit to buy what's on sale and then plan my cookout around that. Once you decide on a main dish, then you can plan your entire cookout menu.

Shop ahead of time.
If you plan ahead you can take advantage of sale prices at your local grocery store or wholesale club. Freeze meats that won’t be used right away. Other items like ketchup and relish will keep nicely in your pantry as long as you don’t open them until they’re needed. Pretty much every item you could need for a great backyard cookout can be purchased on sale. Making your plan and shopping way ahead of time is key to keeping the costs low. Don’t forget to gather supplies for your grill, too. Whether your grill uses gas or charcoal, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty on hand for the big day. Last minute shopping doesn’t leave a lot of room to comparison shop.

Save money on bread products and dessert cakes by visiting a bakery outlet.
The products found here are on the very edge of their usage dates, so they’re very cheap. This is one time, however, when you shouldn’t shop way in advance.

Make It Yourself
Store bought cakes and cupcakes can get pretty pricey when you are feeding a crowd. I usually opt to make my own or have one of my guests bring their favorite dessert to share. Alternatively, I just serve fruit as a dessert. Our favorite summertime treat is watermelon!

Recruit help for big get-togethers.
Having a massive Fourth of July or Memorial Day party is a blast, but the expense of feeding all of those people may be overwhelming for one family to shoulder alone. Ask everyone to bring something to lighten the burden. Take care to be specific when you’re making your assignments; you don’t want to end up with four potato salads and no dessert.

Forget expensive marinades or rubs.
Instead, borrow a book or two from the library and make your own. The best part of this tip is that you get to tweak the recipes to suit your family’s tastes and save money at the same time.

Shop the Dollar Store for paper products
For larger gatherings when I need paper plates, napkins, plastic forks, etc., I make a run to my local dollar store. Items are much cheaper and are usually identical to what the discount stores like Target and Walmart carry.

Mrs. Not Made of Money is a SAHM to 4 kids. She and her husband write the blog "Not Made of Money" where they share money saving tips for a debt free life. How to Save Money on Your Backyard Cookout was reprinted with permission from NotMadeofMoney.com.

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