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8 Ways to Save at Your Summer BBQ

In the South, we take barbecues seriously—whether it’s smoking a whole hog or grilling franks with the family. And with the warm weather, it’s even harder to resist firing up the grill for a feast, but you’ll get more out of each party if you find ways to save a few bucks each time.

1. Invest in your equipment

It’s important to find the grill that’s right for you. If you’re a tailgater on the move, it’s better to grab a simple but reliable charcoal grill. If you plan on entertaining a lot and have plenty of space at your home, a gas grill is a great long-term option. No matter what type of grill you choose, maintenance is key and you’ll need to clean it regularly to make it last. Be sure to remove charcoal ashes after they cool and wipe up any spills to prevent corrosion.

2. Use fuel wisely

Both propane and charcoal can burn up money as quickly as they burn your food. You only need to wait about 10 minutes after turning on a gas grill before cooking. Then, be sure to close the tank as soon as you finish. For charcoal grills, there’s no need to overdo it. You will only need about 3 pounds of charcoal to serve 4-6 people and you’ll just need 15 minutes to preheat before grilling.

3. Get the most out of meat

If you plan on grilling a lot this summer, buy your meat in bulk from a wholesaler like Costco or BJ’s. Then separate the meat into portioned bags (labeled appropriately) and throw them in the freezer for later meals. To save on fuel costs, try grilling more meat at the same time. There are great ways to reheat and reinvent the leftovers in the following days.

4. Don’t forget the produce

Another way to get more out of your meat is to get some help from your produce aisle. Throw some corn cobs on the grill for a hearty side dish, or try making shish kabobs that mix in seasonal vegetables like mushrooms and zucchini on the skewers so you use less meat per person.

5. Buy local

If you love your local famers’ market, buy meats and produce that are in season from neighborhood vendors. It will save you some cash and guarantee a fresh meal and healthier community. Live near the coast? Seasonal seafood can be a great alternative to the usual slabs of beef.

6. Make your marinades

It’s easy to get excited about a new dish and buy the fanciest marinades to spice up your meat. But you can save a lot of money (and develop your cooking skills) by creating your own flavors. Pull together ingredients lying around the kitchen such as lemon juice, vinegar, and pepper. There are also plenty of easy dry rub recipes available online to help you experiment.

7. Get a little help from your friends

Your guests may ask if they can bring anything to the party. Don’t be afraid to take them up on this offer! Have your friends bring their own drinks to help you save money and ensure that everyone has a beverage they prefer.

8. Ditch the paper plates

You may not want to break out the fine china for a backyard shindig but disposable paper plates can easily add up. Instead of restocking for every get-together, try using stronger plastic plates that can be washed and reused. Plus, it’s better for the environment.

Know any other great money-saving tips for backyard barbecues? Share them on First Bank’s Facebook page.

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