Today I have a guest post from Douglas. Douglas Keller has been a financial expert for 20 years, helping people reach financial stability. He now provides personal finance tips on his blog Peak Personal Finance, where he helps people save money on their bills every month.
With Labor Day right around the corner, I know many of you will be hosting or attending a cookout. A few weeks ago, we had a housewarming cookout and used a some of these tips to save after seeing how quickly the costs were stacking up.
There are few summertime social gatherings that compare to the fun had at cookouts. Surrounded by friends, family, and of course food, laughs are had and memories are made.
But as fun as a cookout can be for guests, getting things in order and putting together an adequate spread can make the outing quite costly for hosts.
Fortunately, the traditional expenses of grilling out can be avoided with a few easy changes that can be made at both the grocery store and at home. So if you’re on the fence about hosting a cookout, take a look at these tips and consider if having guests is still out of your price range.
Stock Up On Sides
A cheap and easy way to go about hosting a cookout is loading up on sides and minimizing the entrees that you provide. The range of offerings that sides allow will enable you to present your guests with a diverse selection that is sure to fill them up just as much as any entree would have.
Loading up on sides is also a great way to adjust the overall healthiness of the event as fruits and vegetables are cheap and able to be purchased in large quantities. Vegetables can also be thrown on the grill to bring out some pretty nice flavors. And if you’re set on a traditional cookout, don’t be afraid to shy away from chips and pretzels. Wholesale clubs provide a great means of getting a large quantity for a more affordable price. Just be sure that if you buy in bulk you are purchasing the appropriate amount for your guests and not going overboard.
Clean Your Grill
Buying a quality grill is not a cheap investment and is made with the understanding that the machine will last long enough to make the purchase worthwhile. As expected, each use of the grill causes wear and tear that adds up over time. One common cookout expense is actually having to purchase a new grill in which to cook.
Hold off that expense and ensure the longevity of the grill by consistently cleaning the machine after use. For many people, that means changing some things up and giving your grill a thorough scrubbing after you’ve concluded cooking. Make sure you don’t let the grill cool completely before getting out any food remnants and be sure to dump the ashes.
Simply taking the time to give a meticulous clean will allow you to get plenty of uses out of your grill. When it comes to hosting, grilling is a great way to save energy on cooking, so be sure your machine can last.
Keep Your Leftovers
When the event is over, it is quite likely that you’ll have some food left on your hands. Instead of tossing the leftovers and with it the money you spent and the hours worth of prep you did, hold onto everything. You could have a week’s worth of food in your possession, which will save you some time and money as you go about your usual routine.
With an assortment of meat left unfinished, you can even get a bit fancier and repurpose it, putting it towards a few new dishes. Tacos, soup, and salads are all easily made using leftovers, while the likes of hot dogs and hamburgers can be consumed as originally intended.
Get Cheap Cuts
One of the most important components of any cookout is the food. Everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to ribs and chops get thrown on the grill and given how expensive meat can be, especially beef, you’ll want to be smart in how you buy.
As you walk through the aisles of your grocery store, keep your eyes peeled for cheaper meats like ground beef and turkey, chicken wings, and flank. When it comes time to grill, be sure to have a greater ratio of hot dogs and hamburgers than other meats. Due to the fact most people are usually unable to finish all of the food they grab, cut a few corners and further slice up the meat.
It will allow everyone to get a helping and allow each of the dollars you put in to go a bit further.
Have Guests Bring Food
If you’re hoping to skip out on the bulk of the costs that go along with hosting a cookout, consider asking your guests to bring something. You can assign a side, starter, dessert, or even utensils for everyone to bring. As the host though, it is best that you still prepare the entree.
This comes at a cost but one that is much smaller than you would have spent otherwise. And even better, people are often willing to help out and will be able to lighten your load.
Even if everyone can’t bring something, you’ll still end up reducing the amount you’ll have to spend on the cookout. It can also provide a conversation starter for attendees who may not know each other, as people are typically eager to praise good cooking.
Do you do any of these things to lower the costs of your cookouts? How often do you grill out during the warmer months?
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