Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.
This time last year I put together a summer dinner party menu for under $100. This year I thought I’d move that party outside and give you a menu for a backyard barbecue. I have structured the menu so that, if you prepare the sauce ahead of time, you can hang out by the grill and talk to your friends for most of the night. This menu frees you from being locked in the kitchen, or slaving away all day preparing the meal. It’s simple, delicious, and flexible!
To me, the basis of the best grilling meals are a light protein like seafood or chicken, a ton of grilled veggies and fruit, and a delicious sauce to tie it all together. (Oh and smores – duh!) This usually leaves people feeling full and satisfied, but not heavy. I suggest following these simple guidelines to create a healthy, fresh and abundant meal.
#1 Use your marinade as your serving sauce. I like to repurpose the marinade I use for my meat and veggies as a serving sauce. Some of my favorite sauces to do this with are barbecue, chimichurri, and jerk.
#2 Use seasonal produce for your veggie skewers! Seasonal produce is abundant and therefore you can usually find great deals. So keep your eyes peels for sales on veggies to put on the grill.
#3 Find a protein on sale. When you aren’t tied to a specific menu, you can let the sales guide your buying experience. If shrimp is having an amazing sale – get that! If nothing is on sale, staples like chicken breast are always great!
#4 Don’t stress over appetizers. If your meal is filling and delicious enough no one will mind if you serve chips and salsa or veggies and hummus for an appetizer. They’re easy, stress free, and cheap!
#5 Make the evening BYOB. You don’t have to provide alcohol to be the hostess with the mostess. Maybe you can make infused water with seasonal fruit instead, and save yourself the expense of providing alcohol.
The menu I’ve suggested serves about 8 people, and is fully adaptable to your preferences. I used chimichurri sauce, but you can swap that out for whatever you want! The prices I’ve provided are based on my local NYC prices, so you may find even better deals where you live.
2 bags of chips + 2 jars of salsa // $11.52
1 bag baby carrots + 8 oz hummus // $4.18
TOTAL // $15.70, $1.96 per serving
Red wine vinegar // $4.99
Garlic // $0.63
Shallot // $0.39
Jalapeno // $0.15
Cilantro // $1.99
Parsley // $1.99
Oregano // 1.99
Olive Oil // $6.99
TOTAL // $19.12, $2.39 per serving
*The total will decrease significantly if you already have olive oil and red wine vinegar at home.
2 lb Shrimp (on sale) // $19.98
4 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts // $19.96
Any other meat you want.
TOTAL // about $20, $2.50 per serving
2 pineapples // $6.98
2 red onions // $2.19
4 green bell peppers //5.98
4 avocados //$5
TOTAL // $20.15, $2.51 per serving
CORN ON THE COBB
8 ears of corn // $4.00
TOTAL // $4, $0.50 per serving
2 limes // $1.00
Strawberries // $3.49
TOTAL // $4.49, $0.56 per serving
1 bag large marshmallows // $2.49
1 box graham crackers // $3.49
6 chocolate bars // $4.99
TOTAL // $10.97, $1.37 per serving
MEAL TOTAL $94.43, $11.80 per serving
Obviously you don’t need to serve infused water or smores, but they make for a great guest experience! So if you want to reduce the total cost even more, I’d start by removing those extras. Again, this menu is very flexible – make it your own and have fun!
Over the next few months I’ll be covering a variety of ways to be healthy on a budget. Keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!