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10 brilliant budget BBQ ideas for food on the cheap

Published: 25 August 2013

Don't you find that whenever we have sunny weather everyone decides to have a BBQ and when you go to your local supermarket to get supplies you find a load of empty shelves, especially in the bread aisle.  Never fear, I've put together some ideas so you'll always be able to throw together a BBQ no matter what.

1.  Make your own coleslaw and potato salad at a fraction of the price.  Coleslaw is really easy to make, it's simply shredded white cabbage, finely sliced white onion and grated carrot.  This is then mixed with some mayonnaise and a little bit of vinegar seasoned with salt and pepper.  You can adjust the quantities of each to suit your taste.  Potato salad is simply new potatoes boiled, whilst still hot mix with mayonnaise seasoned with salt and pepper then add chopped up onion of your choice (red, white or spring onion).

2.  Chicken thighs are great when making kebabs - much cheaper and taste better than breast.  I have always been one of those people that only eats chicken breast and never touches chicken legs or thighs until recently.  Chicken thighs are a lot cheaper than breasts and are perfect when making curries and casseroles and even better when marinated and put on kebabs sticks with some veg for a bbq.

Flame grilling burgers on a BBQ - Image courtesy of Howy White Photography 3.  Frozen chicken breasts are so much cheaper and if you plan in advance i.e.  the day before, you can marinate it overnight.  One of my favourite homemade marinades is chicken tikka.  You can find packets of tikka spices in most supermarkets, my favourite is Rajah and on the back of the packet directions say to mix with yogurt and lemon juice.  Take your chopped chicken, mix with the marinade and leave overnight.  Absolutely wonderful...

4.  Pork belly and chicken legs.  Both of these cuts of meat are relatively inexpensive.  Perfect with a marinade or cooked on their own with a little bit of seasoning.  There's no need to splash out on expensive cuts of steak for a barbecue and you can pick up a few cheap packs of these at most supermarkets.

5.  Home-made burgers are very easy to make, cheaper and so much better than shop-bought ones, at least you know what you're getting.  Just throw some beef mince, finely chopped onion, an egg, some breadcrumbs and seasoning in to a bowl, mix it up and shape in to burgers.

6.  Sausages are usually fairly cheap.  There's nothing quite like barbecued sausages but it's always worth checking the meat content first.  The higher the meat content the better the sausage!

7.  Make your own marinades, sauces and dips.  The Internet is awash with great ideas for marinades and dips.  A quick Google search on 'BBQ Marinades' and 'dips' will turn up everything you could possibly want so there's no need to spend money buying that sort of thing.  The chances are you already have all the ingredients you need in your cupboard anyway.

8.  Look out for reduced meat and cheaper cuts.  For example lamb neck is great marinated and cooked on kebab skewers.  Most people shop at their local supermarket for convenience and to be fair they're pretty competitive especially if you keep an eye the section for reduced price meat.  However, it's also worth popping along to your local butchers and checking out their special offers.  In the small town I used to live in I'd often return with a bargain from there, particularly if I want late on a Saturday afternoon not long before closing time. 

9.  Make your own rolls.  Take a look at one of our earlier articles all about making bread and rolls.  With a little creativity you can make pretty much any bread you need for your barbecue.  Make them the night before though as on the day there is often a lack of time for preparation.

10.  Fuel your barbecue efficiently.  There's no need to spend a fortune on expensive accelerants and premium coals.  Simple charcoal briquettes in 5KG bags can be bought from budget supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl.  Cheap firelighters ar aell you need to get started.  Start with two or three blocks in the grate and then build a cone of briquettes around them.  Light the firelighters, wait until the flames have gone and the briquettes are glowing and starting to go white.  Spread them out and wait another 10-20 minutes until they're mostly white.  The best BBQ to use is one with a lid so that you can control the oxygen flow and cool the coals down to a suitable cooking temperature.  If you throw your meat on a BBQ that is too hot you'll end up with food that's burnt on the outside and raw in the middle.  If your BBQ doesn't have a lid, allow suitable time for the coals to cool before cooking, spread them out a bit or apply a light spray of water.