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How to host a swell cookout without going broke

Milagros is a writer, recipe editor, and recipe developer. Her passion for food began at a young age and her hunger to learn and grow has never simmered. She knows everything that she does about the industry from working with amazing ...

Hosting a summer get-together is supposed to be cheap — let's keep it that way

Summer weather got you daydreaming about hosting a big get-together with your friends? Us too, but for a lot of us, one thing keeps us from hosting: money. Whether you're planning a barbecue or a brunch, buying all that food and drink for everyone can get expensive, right? Well, here are a few tricks that can help trim the budget on your parties.

More: The best barbecues for summer

Tip 1: Go for the legs, thighs and other cheap cuts

When you’re throwing a cookout, meat can get expensive, especially if you've invited a lot of people. Coupons.com savings expert Jeanette Pavini suggests you buy chicken thighs and legs instead of chicken breasts. You can sometimes find chicken legs and thighs for as little as 79 cents per pound. If you want to serve steak, go with sirloin (it’s not that cheap, but compared to buying filet mignon, you’re getting a decent deal), skirt steak or flank steak. If kids will be there, give 'em hot dogs.

Tip 2: Serve sangria as the drink of the party

You can go to the market, buy any fruits that are on sale, combine them with a cheap bottle of wine, club soda and orange juice, and you’ll have a delish cheap drink.

More: Throw a summer barbecue on a budget

Tip 3: Don’t buy those precut "crudités" veggie trays

It will cost you more money to buy precut veggie trays. Get your veggies separately, prep them, and serve with a dip. You’ll save a few extra dollars this way, plus you're not paying for that filler celery no one ever eats.

Tip 4: Buy paper plates and cups

Don’t buy paper plates and cups at the market; buy them at the dollar store, where they're cheaper. Guess what else! You’ll find a lot of the same brands at the dollar store too.

Also, when you put out the paper plates, towels and cups, don’t put out everything you bought all at once. Put out a little at a time. That way people will be more inclined to use their same cup the whole day, and you just might have a few extra for your next get-together.

Tip 5: Host it potluck-style

Hey, why are you buying all that food yourself? Instead of buying everything yourself, ask everyone to bring one thing so you’ll have less food to buy. You won’t be splitting the cost evenly, but you can have one guest bring veggies, have another bring paper plates, and it will cut down on your spending. Even if it’s by a little bit, it’s still something.

More: Summer savings: 7 best buys in June

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