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The weather is finally warming up, and its time to start planning your first backyard party of the season. But hosting epic BBQs can get pricey, especially when you frequently entertain.

Luckily, it’s easy to slash the costs of your spring and summer shindigs. Here are ten ways to throw an epic BBQ on a budget.

1. Save on Meats

Just because you make a mean ribeye doesn’t mean you have to splurge on your BBQ menu. Opt for cheaper cuts of meat (marinades and rubs will help), and supplement with sides. There’s also nothing wrong with going back to the basics.

“You don’t need expensive meats like steak or fish. If you supply hamburgers or hot dogs, people will be thrilled,” said Michael Dobson, Marketing Manager for Breakaway, a Cape Cod grill and patio superstore.

2. Buy What’s on Sale

If you plan your menu before you go to the grocery store, you may end up spending more than necessary. Instead, you can cut coupons and hunt for supermarket sales. Planning your menu around discounted items will help you save a lot on food expenses.

3. Make it a Potluck

BBQ hosts are typically expected to provide the main course, but there’s no shame in asking your guests to bring side dishes. This will help save you time and money.

“Don’t be shy to ask your guests to contribute. It’s customary and sometimes expected to bring a side dish, beverage, or dessert to a BBQ or family party,” said Dobson.

4. Make it BYOB

Even cheap beer and wine can get extremely expensive when you’re buying for a large group. Make it a BYOB affair; guests can drink what they like and you can save on alcohol costs. You should still stock up on non-alcoholic beverages for kids and non-drinkers.

5. Make Your Own Sides 

Pre-made sides, such as macaroni salad and coleslaw, are more expensive. With a little extra work, you can make the sides yourself.

“You can easily buy the ingredients and make these from scratch yourself for some delicious, cheap, homemade side dishes.  Potato salad, cheese or buffalo chicken dip are some tasty choices that immediately come to mind,” said Dobson.

6. Save on Decorations

Backyard decorations are nice, but your guests will be happy just to eat, drink, and socialize. You can skip fancy décor like tiki torches or potted plants. If you do want to decorate, head to the party store – there should be plenty of cheap options that you can reuse for the next party.

7. Join a Bulk Store

Frequent party hosts should consider membership at a bulk store like Costco or Sam’s Club. These stores will stock everything you need at bulk prices, helping you afford supplies for a season’s worth of parties. You will have to pay an annual membership fee, but the savings may offset that cost.

8. Use What You Have

Before you go shopping, take inventory of your freezer and pantry. Chances are you already have at least some of the ingredients you need.

9. Make Your Own Marinades and Rubs

Pre-made marinades and rubs can be replicated or replaced. Check your fridge and spice rack to see what you can rustle up. You probably already have enough ingredients for a good marinade or spice rub. Bonus: you get bragging rights for making your own stuff.

10. Keep the Kids Busy

You don’t need to rent a bouncy house or buy the latest video game to keep kids busy. Low-cost games are just as good.

“You can keep the kids busy with low-cost games, like whiffle ball, water balloons, squirt guns and other lawn games,” said Dobson. “Kids love to be outdoors during the summer, so if you have a nice green space for them to play, you can probably keep them occupied.”

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