This is a guest post by Andrea Woroch.
Memorial Day honors the sacrifice of our nation’s heroes and represents the unofficial start of summer. Though this three-day weekend is a popular traveling holiday, many families opt to stay home in an effort to avoid the crowded highways and inflated airline prices.
Hosting a Memorial Day barbecue is a fun way to celebrate the long weekend at home with family, friends and neighbors. Make the most of your BBQ with these budget-friendly entertaining tips:
1. Make it BYOS
Stands for “bring your own something.” Determine what will set you back the most and ask guests to bring their own. For example, request friends bring meat to cut down on the cost of the main course and accommodate dietary restrictions. Beverages, desserts and side dishes are other popular potluck items. Ultimately, guests are happy to help out, but avoid asking them to bring everything — you’re the host, after all.
2. Buy Meat in Bulk
If suggesting guests bring their own meat goes against the Grill Master code, buy the meat in bulk to cut down on the cost. Keep in mind that chicken is cheaper than beef, and ground meat is cheaper still so prepare a menu based on prices. Though great food is a big part of any successful BBQ, guests are really there to mingle with friends and no one expects filet mignon. Don’t forget, leftover meat can be frozen so don’t worry about buying too much.
3. Think Reusable
Though paper plates are convenient for parties, they’re not always the most frugal choice, nor the most environmentally friendly. Instead, opt for durable, plastic dinnerware from a department store to be used again and again throughout the summer. Kohl’s has some great options, and you can score extra savings with online coupons from this site. Your local dollar store is another gold mine for cheap plastic ware that can be washed and reused throughout the summer.
4. Save on Condiments
Whether you’re cooking up burgers or serving juicy steaks, you’ll likely need condiments and seasonings to complement your spread. Compare labels on store brand and name brand products to ensure you’re not paying more for flashy advertising. Some generic brands are made by the same manufacturers of the name brands, so it pays (literally) to comparison shop and review unit prices to determine the best value.
5. Chop Your Own
It may be tempting to purchase prepared foods — like pre-chopped veggies, fruit and other produce — for the convenience, but these dishes are marked up over 40 percent. Take the time to buy these items whole and chop them yourself. You can prepare veggie and fruit dishes a day before the barbecue so you’re not stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun.
6. Stock Up on Staples
Since Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer entertaining season, many retailers are competing for business and offering barbecue supplies at their lowest prices of the year. May represents the best time to buy grill accessories and necessities, including spatulas, brushes and charcoal. Hold off on replacing that outdoor grill until the end of the season, however, when retailers reduce prices to make room for winter essentials.
7. Keep it Safe
Bacteria-related illnesses are prevalent during the summer thanks to poor storage practices. The rule of thumb in keeping stomach-turning bacteria at bay is to keep hot things hot and cold things cold, according to a recent article on MSN Health. Don’t let burgers or grilled meat sit out on the table for late-coming guests, and be sure to place mayo-based salads on ice or in the refrigerator for self serving.
8. Have Fun
Children aren’t the only ones who like to play games. Corn hole, badminton and board games are fun activities for all ages and can help break the ice among adult guests who are meeting for the first time. Download free trivia game apps on your smartphone or create your own pictionary for cheap DIY alternative games. Don’t forget the tunes: Download free music apps like Pandora and stream your playlist from your smartphone to a portable speaker to get the party started!
This is a guest post.