For me, one of the best benefits of summer is spending the day or evening outside and barbequing with friends and family. This summer, my goal is to save as much as I can on supplies for those feasts. How, you ask?
It’s simple – by stockpiling paper goods, condiments, buns, meats and side dish ingredients! This week I am going to share three ways you can save money and have a great outdoor dinner without straining your budget. And just in time for Memorial Day!
Freeze to “Meat” You
If you have space in your basement or garage, investing in a small deep freezer chest can help save you money in the long run. Ours holds a whole summer’s worth of buns, meat, and cheeses – all these items can be frozen and saved for later. A deep freezer actually freezes food more efficiently, improving qualityfor the entire summer. It also keeps our kitchen fridge tidier. We bought ours for less than $200 and it didn’t take long for us to realize the savings.
Buy in Bulk
For those meats, buns and cheeses, buy in bulk and break thelarge packs into smaller quantities. For instance, if you plan to host 20 people, break down a mega-pack of 80 hotdogs, 40 beef patties, and a 5-pound package of sliced cheese down to 20 hotdogs, 20 beef patties and 1 pound of sliced cheese. I use good-quality Ziploc bags and take out what’s needed as occasions arise. These packs will keep in the deep for about four to six months, more than enough time for several summer get-togethers.
Keep an eye on weekly grocery ads for deals on these foods. Premade beef or turkey patties usually aren’t worth the markup so watch for sales on packs of ground meat. Untrimmed brisket and pork ribs are tasty, low-cost cuts that freeze well. For the paper goods like plates and napkins and for condiments, we hit up bulk warehouse stores like Sam’s Club or Costco. We try to buy these at the end of the previous summer and use them all year long, but holiday sales are also a good time to stock up.
We spend a good portion of the summer in our backyard by the pool, and it’s always a joy to have friends and family over for a swim. All that splashing can really work up an appetite so when it’s time to eat, we approach the meal from the potluck perspective. It’s not only fun to get everyone involved, it’s also far more financially manageable . And who knows? You might find a new favorite recipe!
To host your own potluck BBQ, ask guests to bring a side dish, a dessert or drinks. If you’re the one asked to bring a dish to share, consider bringing a vegetable like corn or potatoes. You can usually find these veggies at a great price (especially if you can pick them up at your local farmers market) and they’re universally loved. Try adding spices to your corn on the cob for a fun and flavorful twist.
I don’t know about you, but now I’m eager to break out the pool toys and fire up the grill. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, then I’m wishing you a wonderful, flavorful weekend on the patio!
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.