We’ve all been there: you decide to invite a few friends over for a summer barbeque. Then you invite a few more or you run into some neighbours and ask them to come by as well. Before you know it, you’re at the grocery store buying enough meat to feed 20 people and your bill is well into three figures.
I’ll never discourage anyone from inviting a big crowd over for a barbeque — like a lot of people, I like to show my affection for friends and family by making delicious food and hosting a big backyard bash is one of my greatest pleasures. But there are some tricks to throwing a cost-effective cookout without skimping on flavour or having to go pot-luck or BYOM (Bring Your Own Meat).
1. Don’t Offer Too Much
While everyone loves a mixed grill, you don’t have to buy from every single section of the meat department to put on a great spread. Choose one or two meat selections so that you can buy your meat in bulk packs to get a better deal.
2. Choose Less Expensive Cuts of Meat
As much as you may want to treat your guests to top quality cuts of steak, they’ll probably be just as happy with burgers or brats. If you do steaks or chops, don’t shy away from less expensive bone-in cuts. Make your meat more company-worthy by dressing it up with homemade sauces or some creative condiments and toppings.
3. Grill Carefully
There’s no faster way to waste money than to let your attention drift away from the grill, leaving you with a plate of burnt meat. Educate yourself on cooking times and grill your meat to perfection so that guests aren’t chopping off charred portions and dumping them in the garbage.
4. Simple Side Dishes
You may be tempted to try out some fancy new recipes that call for ingredients that aren’t already in your pantry, but if you’re trying to save some cash it’s best to keep it simple. Grill potatoes or fresh vegetables in foil packets with salt, oil, and some simple seasonings. Classic potato, pasta, and green salads don’t need gourmet add-on ingredients to be crowd pleasers.
5. Plan Smaller Portions
You don’t need to put more food in front of your guests than they can comfortably eat. If you’re doing steaks, not every guest is going to want to eat a full-size cut. Slice steaks up and serve them with homemade chimichurri so that guests can take as much as they need without feeling they have to wolf down an entire steak.
So, go forth and invite your friends, family, neighbours and everyone else you know over for some backyard eats. With any luck, they’ll return the favour later this summer.