Barbecuing on a Budget: Your Guide
Texas barbecue is a cultural tradition, a cuisine made to feed a crowd. You'll see it served at family gatherings, church socials, fundraisers, and other events. Plus, there's no time like spring to host a traditional barbecue. After all, you have Memorial Day, graduation parties and plenty of other opportunities to fire up the smoker.
But this year, you may have to think carefully about how you want to entertain, given that inflation has made nearly all consumer goods, food included, more expensive. Still, rather than letting rising prices cause your barbecue plans to go up in smoke, there are plenty of ways you can still throw the barbecue you want while remaining cost-conscious. Keep reading to learn a few tips for barbecuing on a budget this spring and summer.
The Expense of Barbecuing
As the number of mouths you need to feed increases, so do your costs. And these days, you want to ensure you're still getting good value for your money. When planning your barbecue, you must account for multiple costs. These costs include the meat and seasonings, as well as the fuel for your smoker, side dishes, drinks and utensils. These costs can quickly add up, but there are ways you may be able to save on your next barbecue.
Choose Your Meats Carefully
Meat is likely to be the most expensive cost associated with your barbecue, and one way to cut down on this expense is to choose cheaper meat. No, we are not saying to choose poor-quality meat but to consider how to make the most of your available money.
On the one hand, meats like pork and chicken are usually much less expensive than beef, and what's more, they're barbecue staples that can easily feed a crowd. However, beef brisket, ribs and similar favorites are often less expensive per pound than other cuts of beef, so you can still save (comparatively) by choosing these options for your barbecue.
On the other hand, while everyone prefers a prime, choice or select cut of beef, there is no rule saying that you must buy it for your barbecue. Choosing a less expensive option can help you save on your meal. Even though you may not have a prime cut, you can still create a delectable result by barbecuing it, as smoking is one of the best ways to season and tenderize meats.
Make Your Sauces and Dry Rubs
Store-bought barbecue sauces or dry rubs are the more accessible and convenient options when seasoning your barbecue. But you can usually make these commercially available flavorings using common household spices. You'll cut out the overhead costs, not to mention any preservatives or additives you don't want in your food. Plus, you can create precisely the flavor you want, rather than spending money guessing on different seasoning blends (and potentially being disappointed). In addition, most recipes make copious amounts of sauce or rub, so you'll have plenty left over for future barbecues.
Buy in Bulk
Most people swear that buying in bulk will lead to cost savings (even though it may look more expensive on its face). Indeed, this is true in many ways.
Bulk products usually have a lower price per unit, so buying a smaller package may not mean getting the best bang for your buck. So, even though you may buy a lot of meat, side dishes, spices or utensils at once, you are purchasing consumable goods that you will use. You also won't have to repurchase these items each time you barbecue.
Moreover, if you've ever been to a large wholesaler or club store such as Sam's Club or Costco, you may have seen their ample supply of quality meat. Buying this meat is often a good investment, as the prices are often lower overall than those in the average grocery store. But, if you're worried about having too much meat that will go to waste, don't be. Remember, you can preserve your meats for your next barbecue.
Preserve Your Meats
The smoked meats of European immigrants contributed heavily to the development of Texas barbecue culture. These imported smoking methods were used not only to prepare the meat but also to preserve it. While preservation methods for meats have changed, the principle remains that barbecue is a food that can last.
It is possible to preserve meat both before and after you smoke it. Uncooked chicken, beef, lamb or pork can usually be frozen for at least four months, and some cuts can be frozen for up to a year. You can even freeze leftover smoked meats for up to three months.
The key to freezing raw and cooked meat is to ensure they are packaged so they don't get freezer burn. A vacuum sealer is a great way to package your meat before putting it in the freezer. However, if you don't have a vacuum sealer, you can seal the meat using a freezer bag. Place your meat in the bag, and zip the bag until only about one inch remains left to zip. Submerge the bag up to the zipper in very hot water (we recommend wearing rubber gloves so that you don't burn your hands). The water will act as a vacuum and force additional air out of the bag. Zip the bag closed and pop it in the freezer. When you are ready to reheat or smoke your meat, let it thaw completely before preparing it.
Yes, You Can Barbecue on a Budget
Sure, recent inflation has dealt a blow to everyone's wallets. Still, you don't have to put your plans for a spring barbecue on hold. With a bit of attention to value, the types of meat you're choosing, and the option to buy in bulk, you can save on costs while still laying out a spread that your guests will love.
Plus, if you want to avoid the hassle of smoking and preparing your own barbecue this spring, just come to Hutchins BBQ. We offer delicious family meal deals that are great for any night of the week, and we handle all the prep for you. Head over and join us today, and don’t forget, you can purchase your supply of Hutchins’ barbecue sauces and brisket rubs in our online store. They’re affordable, delicious and a perfect way to bring the flavor of Hutchins to your next family barbecue.