How to throw a Fourth of July cookout on a budget


Like parades and fireworks,Independence Day cookouts are a holiday tradition. But hosting one can get priceyif you dont watch your budget. Hereare some tips for hostinga fabulous cookout this Fourth of July without going broke, courtesy of Sarah Spigelman Richter, a food reporterbased in Manhattan.

1. Thinkquality over quantity

You may think youre getting a deal on that discountmeat, but chances are the pricier goods are a better value, said Richter. Thoughyoull have fewer burgers to go around, youll feel better about eating meat that was raised ethically and sustainably its better for your health, the environment and animal welfare. Of course, sustainably sourced everything does cost more, Richter said, so dont feel pressuredto serve up a steak. Go for any sort of poultry thats interesting to you, she said, or choose sausages, fish or ground meat. The latter isoften cheaper and more delicious.


2. S erve veggies

You dont want to forget people who dont eat meat at your cookout, said Richter, who advised hitting thefarmers market to stock up. My general rule of thumb is, whatever looks best that day, get it, she said. Veggies usually taste good either right off the grill or when theyve cooled down, so theyre a perfect snack for after the pool. Try loading kebabs with veggies and a small amount of meat, or serve up meatless grilled mains like beans and tofu. Things that can fall through the grates like asparagus can always be put in a foil pouch placed directly on the grill, Richter said.


3. Grill fruit

The surprising, smoky flavor of grilled fruit is like dinner theater, said Richter, who explained that grilling brings out the natural sugars in fruit, which makes them sweeter, like caramelized onions. Remember to brush whatever youre grilling with a little olive oil and keep a close eye on your fruit so it doesnt go up inflames (indirect heat is best). Richter advisedgrilling stone fruit likepeaches, plums, nectarines, pluots and apricots. Leave the skins on, then peel afterward and serve with a dollopof cool whipped cream. Its a really easy dessert, she said.


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4. Ask friends to BYOB

We wont dissuade you from stockingup on basics like water and soda, but it never hurts to ask your friends to pitch in. If they have particular tastes yes way, ros茅 encourage them toround out the offerings. As Richter jokingly put it, Get your friends to bring exactly what theylike so you dont wind up with three bottles of white zinfandel that nobody drinks and eventually turns into vinegar in your pantry.

5.Use rewardscredit cards

If youre going to go shopping, you may as well get a little kickback for it, which is what rewards credit cards are all about. You can earn points toward perks like gift cards, account credit and discounts at your favorite stores. Just remember to check your credit before you apply, as many issuers require decent creditin order to qualify. (Not sure where your finances stand? You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

6. Keep side dishes simple

Dont drive yourself crazy trying to make a risotto in the kitchen while everyones outside enjoying themselves, saidRichter. Grab a bag of chips and some coleslaw and enjoy the day.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

Jill Krasny is an editor at Credit.com. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, The Financial Times and Travel + Leisure. More by Jill Krasny

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