Summer is just not the same without a good barbecue! Here are eight cost-effective tips to get your BBQ on this summer without feeling guilty about the extra party costs.
1) Where's the party at? If your backyard is just not cut for entertaining, a local park or beach is an easy and inexpensive way to get people together. Just be sure to do your homework -- some places require permits or reservations.
2) Tank Tips. No need to buy a new propane talk -- refill or exchange! Although you will save more with a refill, it can be a hassle and it isn't very convenient. Bring in your old tank and swap it for a new one at supermarkets, gas stations, hardware and home improvement stores. Save $3 on AmeriGas Cylinder Exchange at Coupons.com.
3) Meat Tips!
A) Ask your butcher what time of day they typically mark down meat, it's usually in the early morning or evening. This is generally due to overstock or meat approaching its sell-by date, but it is still possible to stock up if you freeze it immediately. Some stores have two rounds of markdowns, for example, a package of chicken might be marked down 30 percent in the morning, and if it doesn't sell by evening, marked down to 60 percent!
B) Big is better. Usually a large cut of meat will be cheaper than the same amount cut into smaller pieces. And, you can always ask the butcher if he will cut it into smaller pieces for free. Save even more when you buy bone-in cuts of meat. In the past year, the price of fresh whole chicken has increased 8 percent. However, buying a whole fresh chicken still costs close to $2 cheaper per pound than buying boneless chicken breasts.
C) Select meat vs. Prime. Only 2-3 percent of beef meets the requirement to be labeled Prime, which is the highest grade of beef. The next rung down on the beef ladder is Choice grade and below that is Select. You can still get a tasty meal with Select grade -- because it has less marbling, it is leaner, but that also means it may not be as tender and juicy. Choose a tender cut like a sirloin, which is usually very moderately priced. You will save about $1 per pound getting Select as opposed to Choice.
4) Grill it all! Remember, the grill is not just for meat, make your grill do double duty so you're getting the most out of your charcoal and don't waste energy by firing up the oven or stove, too. Grilled vegetables are easy and delicious. Use extra marinade or basting sauce from your meat right on your grilled vegetable. Also, if you're serving a crowd, check if there is a wholesale produce market in your area. This is where restaurants shop so you're going to get the same wholesale prices and the freshest fruit and veggies you can buy. The catch -- you have to buy in bulk and you usually have to shop very early in the morning. Garlic bread, vegetables, even dessert can be made on the grill, so fire it all up for a grilling feast.
5) Speaking of dessert... Keep dessert simple and roast s'mores right on the BBQ. Kids will love it! You don't have to use a classic chocolate bar, try a peanut butter cup s'more for extra yum.
6) Beer deals! To find the best prices on beer, go to SaveOnBrew.com. Enter your zip code and they'll show you the best sales on beer at grocery stores near you. You can even search by brand to find the best deals for you.
7) Sangria time! Sangria is another great option because you can make it ahead of time and a little goes a long way. Buy whatever fruit is on sale. Pineapples, oranges and berries work well. Combine it with wine, a bargain bottle is okay for this recipe, and add carbonated water and a sweetener like orange juice. Chill overnight and you're ready to go for a refreshing cocktail treat!
8) Creative drinking. Instantly transform any drink with these flavorful ice cubes. Put a small berry in each pocket of an ice cube tray, fill halfway with water or lemonade and freeze for an hour. Then fill the tray completely and freeze solid. You can also use an herb like mint or basil in your cubes to give drinks an extra twist of flavor.
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