Budget BBQ

4ddacb91d6237.imageAs we open our doors and head outside in comfort, so begins the outdoor dining season.

Perhaps you’ve been stuck indoors over this rather arduous winter, and are longing to have family and friends congregate in your backyard for a little BBQ feast? The problem is, hosting an event can be quite expensive and may not fit entirely in your budget.

Fear not, frugal party hosts!  Throw your BBQ, but here are some tips to shave down on the costs associated with the event.

Share and Share Alike

What is one of the major cost centres in hosting a meal? The food ,of course. Go pot luck, share the food and share the costs!

There are a few ways of doing pot luck for a BBQ that are interesting. Have guests supply their own meat, etc. to throw on the BBQ, and then you can supply an array of salads and side dishes.

Alternatively, you can supply the main dish and guests can supply everything else.

Include a theme for fun, like having guests bring one of their favourite dishes from their childhood, or have each guest bring a dish from the country of their heritage. You can get really creative with various themes, and it adds an extra element of fun to the party.

Bottoms Up?

The other main cost centre associated with hosting a BBQ is alcohol, but there are ways to mitigate this cost as well.

Consider hosting your BBQ as a lunch affair, rather than for supper. Guests are less likely to consume as much (if any alcohol) at that time of day.

The real way to cut costs in this department is to have guests BYOB. You can offer a selection of non-alcoholic beverages, but guests that care to imbibe can pack their own.

Think Outside the Traditional Grill

Cut costs by checking out sale items and coming up with alternative dishes.

Beyond the traditional burgers and hot dogs (which are often the cheapest way to go)—watch for sales on other items, like fish (often inexpensive, and amazing on the grill), pork roasts or chicken.

Sometimes full beef tenderloins are deeply discounted, and are absolutely delicious when cooked as a full roast.

Also consider using veggies and fruit that are in season, and throw them on the grill too.

Tip: Farmer’s Markets at this time of year are usually the best spot to get high quality seasonal produce at the cheapest price.

Send Invites Early

Don’t be last minute with your planning. Send invites out well in advance (either by email or evite, or phone, which are your most cost-effective methods) with a specific RSVP date clarified. Also be sure to follow up with stragglers who have not responded.

Getting an idea of guest list well advance will help with your meal planning (and in managing costs). Without a clear picture of who is coming, you run the risk of overspending and waste.

What’s in Your Cupboard?

Before running to the store, do a clear inventory of what you have on hand, in terms of plates, cutlery, dishware and decorations.

Consider using your own plates (or borrow from neighbours). Use vases or bowls you have on hand, and fill them with flowers from your garden. Another lovely centrepiece idea is to fill a vase with pebbles of varying sizes, or with fruit- like lemons because of their shape and vibrant colour.