Summer is here, which means that both the weather and our grills are currently heating up! Grilling is one of America’s favorite pastimes. When you’re working with a limited budget, it might feel like you have to eliminate some of your favorite summer activities, but that’s not the case. Grilling on a budget is easy if you follow a few simple rules. And the next time you grill for your family, you’ll be able to do so without breaking the bank.

Summer 2020 Grilling on A Budget

Grilling on a budget is easy if you follow these five simple rules.

Take inventory before you shop

Before you head to the store, make a list of ingredients that you already have in the kitchen. It may seem obvious, but while planning dinner for the family, we often overlook simple things. When you’re done taking inventory, make a shopping list to take with you so you don’t end up blowing your budget on random items or extras that you don’t need. Setting a budget for your family cookout will also help you stay on track. As you make the shopping list, keep your headcount in mind. This will help you keep from overbuying. 

Buy less expensive meats

You don’t have to buy expensive steaks, ribs, and seafood to make a cookout fun and enjoyable. Ground chuck for burgers, chicken, sausage, and hot dogs will work just fine. Look for specials, discounts, and coupons to save even more. If steak is a must-have, choose flank or skirt steaks, which are often more affordable than other cuts and can be stretched by slicing them up for DIY tacos or fajitas. Don’t forget about plant-based options like Impossible burgers for the vegetarians or flexitarians; they are easy on the budget. The tips in this category also work for affordable last-minute weekend getaways, another summer favorite.

Mix up your mains

At most summer cookouts, burgers are a staple. You can serve burgers without breaking the bank by making that hamburger stretch out a bit. Adding grated potato, pureed veggies, or bread into the patties will help fill them out so you can make more out of less. Most of the time, you won’t even notice the difference. You can also make your rubs, seasonings, and sauces in your kitchen instead of buying pricey bottled ones. As a bonus, home-made items in this category often taste better anyway.

Get creative with your sides

Instead of overbuying meats, supplement with additional sides. Sides are often more affordable and just as much of a family-pleaser. Vegetables are filling and easy to find and dips to go with them are very budget-friendly. For additional sides, you can make salads (greens, potato, and/or macaroni) at home instead of buying them ready-made. This parmesan garlic grilled corn is a delicious side that makes use of ingredients you probably already have on hand.

Maintain the grill 

Instead of leaving the grill on all day, wait for family members to arrive and grill up what you need at once. This way, you can turn the grill back off instead of leaving it on for extended periods. When the party’s over, try to clean the grill while it’s still warm (not hot). This makes it easier to scrub off bits of food and drippings that, if left for too long, may accelerate the corrosion of your grill. Turning the grill off and giving it a thorough cleaning while it’s still warm will help make the grill last longer, as will using a good waterproof cover. These are great ways to save on your next staycation, too.