Nothing says summer like the smell of dinner cooking on the barbecue. Whether it’s riblets, corn on the cob or Mom’s gourmet burgers, everything seems to taste better after it’s been cooked on an open flame. Here are the best supplies to enjoy great grilled treats for less this season. (See also: Romantic Picnic Ideas)

Tongs

I don’t know about you, but nothing ruins the fun of a barbecue like getting my fingers singed because all I have to flip my goodies with is a fork. That’s why tongs make my short list of favorite grilling gifts every time. You don’t need to get the super expensive ones. Even the double pack from the dollar store will serve you just fine for several years. The point is, you want to be able to relax and have a beer or a frosty lemonade while you’re tending the grill without having to risk being burned. A basic set of grilling tongs will help you do just that, and can also be used for sautéing greens in a pan as well.

Skewers

bbq suppliesBulk packs of wooden skewers can be found in the grocery aisle with the grilling supplies or even at the dollar store. Having a bunch on hand makes the last-minute assembly of veggie kabobs a breeze. They are also great for turning bargain cuts of steak in teriyaki strips and keeping shrimp from falling through the cracks onto the fire. It’s a good idea to soak them first, to help prevent flame outbreak.

Basting Brush

I prefer the long-handled variety for this as well, for the same reasons I listed above under the section on tongs. It helps to be able to keep the sauce coming, particularly if you like your meat well done but not dry. Keep an eye out at discount grocery stores and in the clearance section of your hardware store. Of course, they aren’t necessarily the priciest things on the market when they aren’t on sale, so having to pay full price won’t be too much of a hardship.

Rectangular Baking Pan

If you’re traveling to a tailgate party or simply want to marinate things overnight for extra flavor, having a rectangular baking pan to hold your chicken thighs, steaks or mushroom kabobs is a smart idea. I like the glass kind with the snap-off lid for cold storage, but you can keep it extra cheap if you need to by snagging a three pack for a buck at Dollar Tree, or whatever similar chain is in your neck of the woods.

You can check out these great deals from Amazon on BBQ Supplies.

Pantry Ingredients

Whether you want to save money on back yard barbecues by making your own sauce or simply prefer an easy batch of polenta to round out the menu, having some basic pantry ingredients on hand will help keep your costs under control. Try whipping up some of these rhubarb recipes to keep things summery, or one of these marinades from Family Circle to add flavor on the cheap.

Canned Beans

I’m all for cooking from scratch, but sometimes the best barbecues are ones you throw together at the last minute. That’s where having some canned beans – preferably in a sauce – can come in handy for the would-be host. They are a great addition to your list of staple foods to store in the cupboard, and can be purchased with or without the addition of animal products.

Preparing an outdoor meal doesn’t have to cost more than eating out at a restaurant, even if you are serving a crowd. By saving on the basic supplies, you can channel the saved funds towards high-quality veggie burgers, salmon steaks or even shrimp and scallop kabobs. Simple ingredients and great seasoning blends will take you a long way.