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Cheap Barbeque Ideas:
Menus, Recipes, Decorations, and More

Is summer approaching, and poor you on a tight budget? You're probably hunting for cheap barbeque ideas. If so, you've picked a good way to keep your expenses low: grilling is a very casual affair, and there are lots of ways to have a great meal without breaking the bank.

8 Tips for Planning a Cheap Barbecue

Below, you'll find some of my favorite tips for planning a barbeque on any budget-- and keeping all the fun. You'll also find some great recipes and ideas for planning a summer barbeque right here at BBQ headquarters, including some of my favorite recipes for BBQ sauces, rubs, marinades, burgers, and more.

1. Make it a Group Effort

Perhaps the simplest way to have a great party and keep it financially affordable is to ask people to BYO, or bring their own-- and not just their own booze. This means you provide the side dishes and they bring whatever meat or vegetable they wish. This is a fantastic option if you have friends who are vegetarians, too.

If you decide to try this, you may want to whip up a few different marinades-- one vinegar and oil with herbs, one beer or wine based, and one fruity. That way as people arrive you can get their main dish soaking up flavors. A true mix of ingredients and ideas, this is actually a lot of fun.

2. Go Traditional

Burger on the BBQAnother of my favorite cheap barbeque ideas is to simply stick with traditional summer fare! Swing by a local food warehouse and get hotdogs, ground beef, and sausages in bulk. Keep what you need for the party out, and freeze the rest for another occasion.

Who needs a bunch of fancy meats and ingredients when grilling makes even the simplest food taste divine. And there are really easy ways to kick up these items so they're a little more special. For example, serve chili hot dogs and a blue cheese-bacon burger! Caramelize a bunch of onions and pick up some fancy mustard for sausage sandwiches. And for the traditional grilling party, its perfectly acceptable to ask your guests to bring beverages or side dishes to help out.

Click here to learn how to make the perfect burger!

3. Pot Luck It

Another money saving idea for everyone who comes to your party is to plan a potluck barbecue. The only caution is to be sure you ask people what they're bringing ahead of time. Otherwise, you're likely to end up with three different kinds of potato salad, four macaroni salads, and no main dishes! Also let your guests know what you plan to provide yourself, so you don't double-up.

4. Find Some Beverage Bargains

In terms of expenses, when you're planning a backyard barbeque, offering beer is far more cost-effective than providing hard liqueur. Additionally, buying 2-liter bottles of soda pop is much less expensive than single-serve cans. You can get generic pop-- no one will care on a hot day! Just was with your meat, try shopping for your non-alcoholic beverages at a food warehouse for further savings.

To keep those beverages cold, spend a few days making ice blocks using baking pans in your freezer. Why buy commercial ice when you can make it yourself?

5. Chickening Out

Chicken BBQ Recipe for the GrillWant some real meat at your BBQ? If you're looking for cheap barbeque ideas on a budget, you've gotta opt for... chicken!

There are times when you can buy chicken for the same price or less than hamburger or good quality hotdogs. Chicken is certainly one of the favorites for grilling because it rarely gets dry, and accepts the flavor of marinade and sauces wonderfully. A really inexpensive marinade is simple Italian salad dressing (vinegar, oil, spices). The only caution in using this marinade is that the oil will flare up if you don't watch the chicken closely.

Legs and dark meat are always going to be the least expensive offering. Wings, while fun, have become rather "gourmet" and get pricey unless you can find them on sale.

Check here for some wondering ideas for chicken bbq sauces and chicken bbq rub recipes.

6. Save on Partyware

In the list of cheap barbeque ideas, this is one that requires a little planning. At the end of the traditional grilling season, it's time to go shopping for next year. Look for plastic cups and plates to use for future parties. Think of how much you normally spend on paper products! It's no small sum. By getting reusable tableware (that you can toss in the dishwasher) you'll buy once instead of every time (it's very environmentally friendly). You also don't run the risk of outdoor breakage like you might if you used your normal tableware.

Don't mind plates and napkins that look a little out of place? Visit party stores and discount stores for Christmas, birthday, Easter, or other holiday plates, and stock up. Hey, they're out of date... but who'll be able to tell when they're covered in BBQ sauce?

7. Skimp on the Seating

If you are planning a relatively large gathering, don't sweat the seating. Instead of renting chairs, ask people to bring a folding lawn chair or two. They'll be more comfortable than in those nasty wooden chairs that you normally get at a rental store, and you'll save quite a lot of money.

8. Think Seasonal Fare

Last but certainly not least, when you're trying to come up with affordable menu ideas for a barbeque is looking to your regional and seasonal foods. The local farmer's market will have some great offerings. When food is out of season it's not only more expensive but usually doesn't taste as good. Fresher is always better! And a heck of a lot cheaper, too. Plan where to shop before the event, and you're guaranteed to save some dough.


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