Our Cheapskate Fun BBQ and Homemade BBQ Stand Made From Pallet Wood

My family loves barbecues! Who doesn't? (Ok, other than maybe vegetarians and vegans...) The other day, we just had a barbecue with nearly my entire family (siblings and siblings in law, parents, nephews and nieces) and my dad. My dad- remember him, the insanely frugal shopping guru that I interviewed for my blog? Well, was the one who supplied most of the food for the BBQ, and what he didn't supply, I did. You combine my dad and myself and what you get is an awesome barbecue for 18 people that cost less than 50 dollars, and had a lot of food left over afterwards!

Because for most families, barbecues are expensive affairs, I wanted to share how we did this barbecue so frugally, to maybe give ideas about how you can do it too.

But before I talk about what we served at our barbecue, I wanted to show you this awesome barbecue grill that my husband, Mike, built himself out of... you guessed it- pallet wood!

He made it built around two "disposable" barbecue grills we had, that were annoying to use because they were so low to the ground. The two grills are side by side, and right next to it is an old rusted pan, which is used as a base to put in regular pans or disposable pans, to hold the food being barbecued/already barbecued.

Here is a side view, so you can see how it was built.

Mike used a part of a pallet that already has "compartments" to make compartments to store things necessary for grilling.

There are three little doors attached with hinges, and they can be opened one at a time or all at once, or closed and used as a surface to hold more things.

And of course there are hooks to hold things like tongs, forks, spatulas, and other BBQ necessities.

So now that you see this lovely grill that makes barbecuing so much easier on your back, what was served that ended up being so cheap?

Well, no beef, first of all. Barbecues don't need to have beef to be tasty. Everything served was chicken based. Beef ups the price a lot for a barbecue, so that was left out of our cheapskate barbecue.

The meat served was as follows:
Approximately 7 lbs of chicken wings that my dad found being sold for less than 50 cents a pound. The chicken cost about $5.75. I seasoned half with homemade Worcestershire sauce, and the other half with balsamic vinegar bought on sale from the scratch and dent store.
2 giant bags of hot dogs, bought on sale, for $5.75.
Approximately 3.5 lbs of ground chicken bought for $6.30, which I made into delicious gluten free egg free burgers by mixing them with potato flakes, garlic, paprika, nutritional yeast, and ground flax seeds.

This was more than enough meat for everyone to have as much meat as they wanted, and we still were left with 2 trays filled with leftovers, which we ate for two more meals after that.

Other costs for the barbecue were the coal and lighter fluid, another $5.75.

My dad made homemade sourdough rolls that he brought along, as well as some buns that he bought on sale super cheap at the end of the day at the open air market and froze.

Side dishes were provided by me:

I made a delicious purple coleslaw with reduced rack cabbage I got super cheaply at the open air market. Oops- I didn't get a chance to take a picture of it before everyone got to it, so now you can see the bottom of the bowl.

Same with the carrot salad. I made these with reduced rack carrots that I got free, Moroccan style, with cumin, paprika, garlic, and olive oil (only they weren't lacto-fermented, they were with lemon juice). These were also polished off and a hit with everyone.

I made potatoes to turn into potato salad, but honestly, they never even got served, because there was so much other food that no one even missed it.

My mom brought along rice salad that she made from leftover rice and homemade smoked chicken breast. I don't eat rice, so didn't have a chance to taste it, but it was loved by everyone that did eat it.

My sister brought along some veggie salads that were gifted to her by a lady who collects leftovers after local events and gives them out to people in the neighborhood. She brought some delicious sun dried grape tomatoes turned into a salad, and eggplant salad.

Oh, and how can I forget- I grilled eggplant slices that I made from grade b eggplants that were going to be thrown out.

As for drinks- fortunately my family is happy with water as the beverage of choice. I did serve a few alcoholic drinks though. I made tomato juice and served it with my Worcestershire sauce, a few spices, my homemade hot sauce, and vodka I bought on sale to make Bloody Mary's. I also served my gluten free beer that I bought a few cases of on sale.

At the end, everyone roasted marshmallows for dessert.

Everyone had a good time, and best of all, our budgets were happy too!

We used disposables I already had in the house, bought on sale, other than cups, which I didn't have disposables so we used real.

Barbecues are fun, but they definitely don't need to break the bank!

When you make a barbecue, how much do you generally end up spending? Are barbecues pricey for your family? Would you do any of the things we did to keep our costs down, for your barbecues?
And while we're at it, I'm going to ask for y'all to pat Mike on the back and compliment him for his awesome barbecue, because he deserves it, as it definitely made barbecuing a much more enjoyable experience!

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I'm going to be a spoil sport. Although your marinade was good and the wings were great, I prefer my marinade with duck sauce and soy sauce (occasionally peanut butter too.) Then again, I have "retarded" taste buds that need lots of extra flavor otherwise the food tastes bland. Other than that I agree with most everything else...Except your salads weren't just good, they were AWESOME! I could have made a meal of just your salads.

    -penniless dad

  2. This sounds completely delicious! Since the grill is made out of pallet wood, were any precautions to prevent it from catching fire?

    1. Thank you! The barbecues itself are metal and are on little legs that stand on the wooden base. Yes, care was taken to actually stay with the bbq and not leave it alone so it wouldn't catch fire, but anyhow BBQs shouldn't be left alone.

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