We believe the best summer evenings are those spent in the great outdoors with good company and even better food. Everyone loves a classic summer barbecue—especially when it doesn't break the bank for the host! We all know having friends and family over for an evening of grilling and dining al fresco can get pretty expensive—quickly. Below you'll see how you can throw the ultimate backyard BBQ on a budget, including all the recipes you'll need for a delicious evening outdoors.
Related: Our Best Healthy Summer Recipes
Divide & Conquer
Pictured Recipe: Pesto Pasta Salad
There's no need to try and do it all, especially when you're on a budget. We promise, you can be a super-host and still delegate some items on your list. When your friends ask what they can bring, don't say "nothing." Most people want to contribute something, so let them! Ask them to bring their favorite side or some wine, beer or their drink of choice. Another perk of delegating some items on your list? You might try a new dish or drink you wouldn't have discovered on your own.
Think Outside the Bun
Pictured Recipe: Grilled Beef & Vegetable Kebabs
While hot dogs and hamburgers are classic BBQ food, they do require you to have buns and a variety of condiments. Try serving something like kebabs—they're absolutely delicious on their own. Kebabs are the perfect way to showcase a few different ingredients—think lots of vegetables and an inexpensive cut of beef. You can make affordable cuts of beef taste even more tender and delicious by marinating, cutting against the grain and ensuring you're cooking it to the right temperature (rather than overcooking or undercooking it).
Make Your Own Marinade
Pictured Recipe: Teriyaki Marinade
Why buy from the store what you can make at home in minutes? Bottled marinades can be expensive and, honestly, are often not that amazing. Make your own marinade that tastes way better than store-bought with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. You really can't go wrong with classic teriyaki or our popular mojito marinade.
Keep the Sides Simple
Classics are classic for a reason! They're always good! Grilled zucchini, corn on the cob, pasta salad and watermelon slices are all inexpensive and delicious choices bound to please both kids and adults. Feeling fancy? Dollop some pesto butter on your corn, or sprinkle lime zest and sea salt on your watermelon.
Go Big with Drinks
Pictured Recipe: Frozen Pineapple Margaritas
Instead of buying individual cans or bottles (which can get so expensive so quickly), make a big batch of whatever you plan on serving—think margaritas or berry sangria. Big-batch cocktails are much cheaper (and way more fun) than buying individual drinks. We love these colorful drink dispensers from Target, and they're all under $15!
Keep Dessert Light & Easy
Pictured Recipe: Strawberry-Mango Nice Cream
After a big meal, we love to keep dessert light and simple. Our nice cream recipes, including a fantastically boozy one, require just a handful of ingredients and can be whirled up in minutes. Looking for something you can make ahead? Popsicles are another wonderful (and inexpensive!) option. Plus, you really can't beat a refreshing dessert-on-a-stick in the summer, can you?