Throwing a barbecue does not have to be an expensive way to entertain friends or family. Since food picks up the smoky flavors from the barbecue, cooks can use less expensive choices to create delicious courses for a meal. Choosing food that is on sale, combined with manufacturer’s coupons, can also help save money when planning a meal. Making salads, bread and desserts from scratch can further trim the cost of the meal.
Meat often anchors a barbecue, but instead of serving high cost cuts of meat like steak, serve chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers to provide a solid and acceptable alternative. Buying pork shoulder roasts or beef briskets on sale and slow cooking them over indirect heat to make pulled beef or pork is also a way to save money on meat for a barbecue. Country-style pork ribs have more meat than the more expensive back ribs or baby back ribs. Cooks can also make barbecue sauce from scratch by using a recipe to save money.
You can save money by purchasing whole vegetables such as a head of leaf lettuce or cabbage, carrots, onions and radishes, and cutting them up at home for a salad instead of buying the prewashed and prepackaged salads. Cabbage is one of the least expensive vegetables available and can easily be combined with shredded apples, carrots, broccoli and dressing to make a healthy coleslaw.
Potatoes are typically an inexpensive and classic starch to serve at a barbecue. Serve them baked with a variety of toppings like butter, sour cream, diced scallions or crumbled bacon or mash them up for a potato salad. Many consider grilled corn on the cob a necessity for a barbecue and buying it with the shucks on or frozen with a coupon saves money. Barbecued or baked beans are not only an inexpensive starch to serve; they also provide a great deal of nutrition, especially protein. Dried beans cost less than prepared beans and beans cook well in slow cookers. Pasta salads mixed with dressings, diced vegetables or fruit do not cost much and often accompany other entrees at barbecues
Making desserts from scratch saves money and can be a healthier alternative to using bakery products, frozen cookie dough, cake mixes or canned frosting. Cookies are also easy and nearly foolproof to make at home. Fruit salads also provide a sweet, healthy close for a meal. Using an in-season fruit topping for handmade shortcake increases the nutritional content of the meal.