With the price of protein products on the rise, the traditional friends and family BBQ with all the fixings is compromised for budget conscious foodies. Here are some tips to help boost flavour and not break the bank for your next feast.
DIY When it comes to marinades, dressings, refreshments and desserts, skip the grocery departments and make your own. How difficult is it to whip together a batch of sangria?* So easy to toss a salad with basic oil and vinegar dressing (and seriously better), make an easy meat marinade from standard fare in your pantry (olive oil, mustard, maple syrup, soya sauce, herbs, garlic, honey, and trusty s and p) – these are all things you probably have on hand. Throw together an easy peasy pavlova and fresh berries for dessert. A healthy crowd pleaser; all you need are eggs, sugar and fresh berries.
Family style Buffets are an inexpensive way to serve a meal, and it enables guests to customize what they are eating. Ideas? A taco bar, a salad bar… serving food this way can also limit your need for much meat so it’s also healthier.
Fresh deals Before long weekends many grocers promote deals on fresh meat, which means fresh will cost less than frozen and it’s a good idea to snag these deals and stick most of it in your freezer for your next gathering.
Stay basic Don’t get lost in fussy appetizers and sides. It’s easy to over prepare these items and have lots of leftovers. Keep things simple: fresh veggie platters always disappear. People appreciate the low fat option, and kids love them. Cheese and crackers are always a crowd pleaser. Potato salad, Caesar salad, corn… You can still glam up these basics with what you serve and how you serve them, but you know that they will appreciated.
Stock up Like meat, party basics such as sodas and condiments often go on sale just before long weekends. Capitalize on these grocery store promotions by keeping your eyes peeled and stocking up on favourites when they go on special.
* Tightwad’s white wine sangria
You need a large pitcher for this; preferably clear glass because sangria is just so pretty.
1 litre white wine (crisp is better – pinot grigio works well)
½ litre soda
1 cup sprite/7up
½ orange, sliced
½ lime, sliced
2 oz. triple sec
2 oz. peach liqueur
garnish with handful of fresh fruit… sliced peach, mango, raspberries, blueberries… anything goes
sprigs of mint or basil
Combine all of the ingredients in the pitcher. Refrigerate for an hour before serving. Serve in tall glasses with ice (don’t put ice in the pitcher, it will melt and dilute the mix).