Barbecue season is at hand, and the scramble begins. What do you serve at a barbecue? How do you keep costs down and the food healthy? Where can you cut costs without forfeiting quality?
The first place to cut costs is in the plates and cutlery. A lot of people are tempted to buy paper plates and plastic, disposable cutlery for a barbecue. But if you’re just having a small gathering in your back garden, then your own plates and cutlery will do just fine and save you a few pennies. This will also reduce the amount of waste generated by your barbecue, which is a nice bonus.
Asking guests to bring their own drinks can work, but making a large jug of cold cordial is still a good idea. You don’t want to look cheap, cordial doesn’t cost a lot, and it means people who don’t drink alcohol can still have something nicer than water.
Buying meat in bulk can really help keep down barbecuing costs; this is one occasion where you will use a lot of meat, and therefore buying it all at discount prices can really work. Your local market or butcher can probably net you a nice deal, but don’t discount supermarkets, either. If you buy frozen meat such as burgers, don’t forget to defrost them well ahead of time! Canned hot dogs are cheap but taste great barbecued, so don’t skimp on these beauties.
Corn on the cob can be bought fresh or frozen and tastes amazing grilled. Just slap them on raw and the heat from the coals will cook them through. Slight charring only adds to the flavour, but don’t let them burn!
Potato salad, coleslaw and pasta salad are barbecue staples, but they can be quite unhealthy when they contain a lot of mayonnaise or similar substances. If you’re making your own, be careful how you make them. Light mayonnaise puts a lot of people off due to its different flavour, but simply mixing mayonnaise with half as much water and using the mixture can help you create a lighter version that’s just as tasty as the conventional one.
Make sure you provide a lovely salad. Shredding some lettuce really finely and mixing it well with chopped tomatoes and onions and some finely cubed dill pickle slices results in a lovely fresh salad. If you drizzle on some of the vinegar from your dill pickles, you don’t need a fattening dressing. It tastes amazingly fresh and goes very well on burgers or hot dogs instead of relish – or freshens up your plate as a side-salad.
A healthy, inexpensive barbecue is not so hard to put together. With these tips, you can ensure you have a great time with lovely food, without emptying your wallet!