It’s summer. And since we all have to eat anyway, why not incorporate it into our entertainment agenda and have some folks over for a barbecue? Following are several ideas to pull off a successfully hosted event without busting your budget.

Combo Kabobs

bbq suppliesThese really are a fun and visually dramatic way to stretch your meat and produce pennies. Using meat  chunks, onion wedges, small to medium mushrooms, and cut up green peppers, thread one piece of each in repeated succession onto moistened grilling skewers until each one is full. Prepare as many as you need to feed the number of people you’ll be hosting. Put a batch of rice in the rice cooker and chill up an appropriate amount of your favorite microbrew.

You can individualize this with various basting sauces or marinades. Pick what fits your tastes and budget. Incidentally, you could also modify this menu only slightly and get a whole different feel. For example, roast the vegetables in tin foil packets and slice the meat in thin lengths rather than chunks. Weave the strips onto the skewers and marinate in teriyaki. For an inexpensive beverage, stretch an affordable boxed wine even further by mixing up a homemade sangria.

Catch of the Day

Basically, you just go fishing and pick a side dish. Depending on where you live, your water harvest will be different. Trout, perch, lobster, clams, oysters, salmon, shrimp, halibut . . . DIY fishing can provide some seriously bountiful booty. A few frugal side dish ideas include roasted garden corn, thinly sliced potatoes with butter, salt and pepper in tin foil packets and grilled vegetables such as eggplant, asparagus, zucchini or red peppers. Field greens or Asian coleslaw are also budget friendly crowd pleasers. If you’re really worried about picky younger eaters, throw on a pot of rice. For drinks, mix up some freezer slush margaritas or other make-ahead freezer cocktails.

Gourmet Hot Dogs

Smoked sausages, cheapie coupon hot dogs, tofu pups . . . any of these can get the job done. Toast the rolls on the grill as well and have several stuffing and topping options available such as chili, cheese sauce, specialty relishes, chopped onions, homemade ketchup and a gourmet mustard or two. Prepare a huge batch of your favorite bean recipe in a crock, or go the easy route and pick up a bulk number ten can or two of precooked beans from your favorite warehouse store. Suggested beverage for this menu plan? Hard lemonade.

The Vegan Special

Grill larger slices of vegetables and serve with fresh pita bread and either hummus or smoked eggplant dip. Add tabouleh if you’re feeling energetic, and serve with Syrian arak or cold lemon with mint for drinks. You could also do a meatless version of the kabob plan mentioned above and throw some sliced pineapple steaks on the grill with a little barbecue sauce.

Simple Sweets

People tend to expect some sort of sweet treat at outdoor summer events. A few popular, yet affordable ideas include an ice cream topping bar, classic chocolate chip cookies, watermelon or even a small batch of basic brownies.

Hosting a summer backyard dinner party doesn’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of fun menu options at your disposal.