Cheap Barbecue Party Food Ideas

By: Mark Hester

It doesn't have to cost you a lot of cash to make your BBQ memorable. Remember -- most people expect burgers and potato salad. So any different food is good. And if you follow our cheap barbecue party ideas you can impress your guests for very little money.

First off I must state that there is certainly nothing at all wrong with burgers and potato salad. I love them both and all weekend griller's barbeque parties should have a good selection of these and other basics. But just a few other cheap barbecue party food ideas during planning can save your food -- and your parties -- from boring repetition.

Here are five cheap and easy food ideas you can try immediately to make you next barbeque party memorable and fun:

1) One word -- Condiments! Everyone has ketchup and mustard. Occasionally you see a lonely bottle of Tabasco. But for very little money or effort you can add a rainbow of variety to your table and impress your guests. Visit a specialty store or good supermarket and pick up some bottles of unusual barbeque sauces or hot sauces for the table. Do not just paint the meat on the grill -- give your guests a choice on the table. Today's barbeque and hot sauces come in a wide variety of flavors and heat levels and there is something for (almost) everyone. Consider the food you are serving and other sauces that may complement it. If you are serving pork consider a white BBQ sauce or horseradish sauce. If you are serving fish consider a sweet barbeque sauce or a Vietnamese or Japanese fish sauce.

2) Salsa -- Not just for corn chips anymore! Several years ago salsa took over the number-one-selling condiment spot in America from ketchup but most people still think of it as just a dip for chips or a covering for Mexican foods. Salsa is -- and can be -- so much more. Consider visiting a Farmers' Market or specialty supermarket the day of the BBQ and picking up a fresh salsa. Or better still,yet spend an hour or so the night before the party and make a batch of homemade salsa. It's really very easy. And don't just stick with the basic tomato/pepper salsa -- be brave and try a fruit or a veggie based salsa. Choose your salsa based on the meat and vegetables you will be serving and invite your guests to cover these foods for a new taste experience.

3) It's almost embarrassing how much good will and praise a simple salad will gather. As cheap barbeque party ideas go, this is one of the best. Everyone does potato and macaroni salad. Ask your neighbors to bring a dish and you'll probably get 3 of each. You can impress everyone to no end by making up a colorful and easy pasta or fruit salad that not only looks great but tastes great, too. Add some grilled items into it at the last minute for a very special touch.

4) Sides -- Go beyond the salad! So you've brought your beautiful (though cheap) salad. But now think beyond to other side dishes. What springs to mind? If you are like most people - corn on the cob comes to mind. There is nothing wrong this. But to really impress your guests think of adding one or two other unusual sides that will complement the main course. And remember that sides don't have to be just veggies. Think of the possibilities of fruits, shellfish and even meats.

5) Desserts - Why not use the fire? Okay, you gotta have desserts. You'll probably want something cool (homemade ice cream, maybe?) and some sweets to keep the kids happy. But since the fire is still warm why not consider really wowing your friends by making an additional dessert or two on the grill. Make homemade ice cream (always a reasonably cheap choice) AND grilled dessert to go with it and you will be considered a party god for many years.

Since most barbeque parties feature the same basic foods, these cheap party food ideas will help any weekend griller to impress their guests. Do it well and your neighbors will invite you to every party and beg for an invitation to yours.

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