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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Barbecue for Less



Spring is here, and Summer is once again knocking on our door. No better time for a Barbecue!
People go way overboard with spending when shopping for a BBQ. While BBQs can be far from frugal because they are heavily meat based, by following a few tips, you can make sure that your barbecue is not burning up too much of your money.

Cheap Barbecues

Make your own grill. If you don't already own a BBQ grill, resist the urge to either buy an expensive BBQ grill or disposable grill. Use an old cookie tray for the bottom. Put this on a heat resistant surface- it will get hot!. Use an old refrigerator or oven grate (non plastic coated) for the grill. Raise the grate off the tray with large rocks or bricks. Between the two, place your charcoal, or better yet-
Burn wood. Instead of buying charcoal, if you have untreated wood (like wood pallets- most stores are glad to have you take them off their hands) lying around, use that. Alternatively, if you have access to a forest, go foraging for dry wood from the forest floor. You'll want different width pieces of wood, both thin kindling to start off, and the long lasting thicker pieces.
Make your own starter "block". Fold up a piece of paper (use scrap) into eighths. Wrap twine (non synthetic) around that, tie it, and leave a piece of string a few inches long for lighting. Dip all this in melted wax (collect wax drippings from old candles from this, or alternatively, just melt a few candles). To use, tuck this among your wood/charcoal and light the string. It works as well as any starter block.
Use cheap meat. People will appreciate the barbecue even without the expensive cuts of meat. Chicken wings, hot dogs, and homemade burgers usually are the cheapest tasty BBQ foods. Make your burgers by stretching your ground meat (ground chicken or turkey is usually cheaper than beef) with TVP (soy flakes), bread crumbs and eggs. You can also use seitan to make shish kebabs, or even grill slices of seitan or homemade veggie cutlets.
Make your own buns. Just shape any regular bread loaf into thinner longer buns for hot dogs, and circular flat buns for burgers. Alternatively, use pitas instead of buns (either bought or homemade).
Don't go overboard on protein. Even though you're having a BBQ doesn't mean that you should be eating so much meat. Stick to one or two servings per person, no matter how tempting it is to fress on the BBQed delight.
Load up on homemade sides. To prevent people stuffing themselves with the more expensive meats, serve plenty of cheaper side dishes. Potato salad, macaroni salad, pickles, sauerkraut, coleslaw, and vegetable slices are great BBQ companions and can all be cheaply homemade. Boil potatoes, foil wrap them, and throw them into the burning charcoal or wood.
No disposables. If you're traveling to your BBQ, you may be thinking of using disposable plates. Consider investing in reusable plastic dishes- these are relatively cheap, non breakable and light, last a long time, and you're being environmentally friendly.
Homemade drinks. Water is cheapest, but if you want variety, bring homemade iced tea, lemonade, and homemade hard lemonade. Much cheaper and just as tasty as bought drinks.

Now that you know how to BBQ for less, pack up your cooler, load up your trunk, and head off to your favorite park for a delightful afternoon.

Do you have barbecues frequently? On average, how much do they cost you? What do you do to cut costs for your BBQ?


This is part of Thrifty Tip Tuesday and Tightwad Tuesday

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