How to Plan a Cookout on a Budget

With the first long weekend of summer approaching fast many families are planning summer get together, cookouts,  and barbecues. Our family is fast prepping for a cookout to celebrate my father’s life. He never really planned his cookouts on a budget but use girls well we have to. So we set out to find out how to plan a cookout on a budget that we can pull off.

how to plan a cookout on a budget

Buy sale and clearance meats ahead of time

Planning a cookout can be stressful if you have more then just a few friends over. Even families planning small cookouts quickly discover that the cost of meats for cookouts can get out of hand fast. This is where a vacuum sealer and deep freezer can come in handy. Sales are popping up left and right on meats for cookouts. After each of the major grilling holidays, some of those sales dip even lower as meats go on clearance.

To take advantage of these deals we are shopping ahead and snagging the best deals before the big cookout. This week we scored a huge stash of Brats for less than 50 cents each. I grabbed a good stash for the cookout and some for my family as well. Even if you do not need all of the meat you find on sale for your cookout you will have meats left for other cookouts and just for your family to enjoy so you can never really overbuy sale and clearance meat.

Buy your sides on sale to save money on your cookout

In the week or two leading up to your cookout watch for sales on items, you want to serve at your cookout. Ingredients for homemade baked beans, or cans of your favorite brand if you plan to take a few short cuts. Snag chips on sale checking that the best by date is for after your planned cookout. This is a great way to avoid paying full price the day before and save a large chunk of money.

Serve lots of filling produce to host a cookout on a budget.

From salads to grilled veggies, and fresh fruit salad you can save money on your summer cookouts by serving fresh produce both before and during the main meal. Produce is filling and often has a high water content reducing the amount of food and drinks your guests consume. This sneaky trick will help you host a larger cookout on a smaller budget.

how to plan a cookout on a budget

Our favorites to serve are fresh cold watermelon and fruit salad made from frozen fruit that will stay nice and cold for a long time. These go out early so everyone can much while food cooks. On the grill, we toss plenty of corn we snag on sale and freeze on the cob and fresh peppers and onions make a great addition to serve with the meats.

I like to stock some bags of salad mix and little additions like shredded carrots and salad toppings for everyone too much on the side. Basically, I feed my guests the same way I feed my family because I know these tricks will save me money in the long run.

Have guests bring a side or dessert when planning your cookout on a budget

Sides and deserts may be fairly cheap for your cookout but they can really add up when you are making enough for a crowd and serving meats. Save money in your budget by focusing on main dishes and inviting guests to bring a side or dessert to share. When doing this it helps to have a few backups in case no one remembers like chips and a gallon of ice cream.

There are a few ways to save on drinks for your cookout.

With drinks, you have two options. You can go with individual serving drinks or open for larger bottles and serve with cups. While you can save a large chunk of money buying individually packaged drinks but you will have more waste to deal with after. If you want to go with individual drinks to make it easier on yourself you can save money by shopping ahead and stocking up on sales. Soda and bottled water does not go bad so you can stock up in mass when you find a great sale and be ready for any cookouts you have planned.

Plan to DIY it to save on your cookout

A great way to plan your cookout on a budget is to plan ahead to DIY as many things as you can. Forming hamburger patties yourself can dramatically cut the cost over fresh or frozen patties and you can add seasonings to give them more flavor.

When it comes to sauces and marinades you can save money and get a better quality by grabbing ingredients to make them yourself. Simply take a favorite barbecue or marinade recipe and multiply it to make in bulk. Check out soem of our favorite barbecue sauce recipes.

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