How to serve a delicious summertime dinner on a budget

  • You can make a summertime feast for your next outdoor gathering on a budget that isn't stingy on taste.

    You can make a summertime feast for your next outdoor gathering on a budget that isn't stingy on taste. Courtesy of Biz Velatini

 
 
Updated 7/9/2020 12:37 PM

I am a people pleaser through and through. I used to say yes to things I didn't want to do because I was afraid to say no.

A few years ago, if I had a barbecue, people would ask, "what can I bring?" and I'd reply -- "nothing -- I've got it!" Until I realized that I was buying a bottle of pinot grigio for one person, a pinot noir for someone else and a specialty beer for another person on top of all the food I'd prepare. I would find myself spending a couple of hundred dollars just to have people over.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

When I finished whatever I said yes to and didn't have fun, I finally stopped in my tracks and told myself, "you don't have to do everything -- it's OK to say no or ask for help." And this is how I now entertain.

Well, friends, I have a very budget-friendly barbecue that only cost me $23 for EIGHT people. Yep, I am shouting so the people in the back can hear me.

This is how I come up with a budget-friendly menu -- shop your sale inserts in your newspapers. The week I made this meal, chicken legs were on sale for $1.19 a pound. Potatoes were 69 cents a pound. A 40-ounce bag of frozen corn was $1.99 -- you get the idea. I built my menu around what was on sale and made lemon marinated chicken legs, a corn and sugar snap pea salad, grilled potato fries with dipping sauce and strawberry salsa for garnish on the chicken.

Now, I simply let my guests know that they can bring their favorite beverage of choice, I have a couple people bring dessert, and a great time is had by all. While I am particular about good food, I know that the most important thing is reconnecting with friends and family around the grill. It's my favorite place to be.

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For this menu, both the corn salad and the salsa can be made the day before. For the corn salad, I would add the cilantro and cotija cheese right before serving. If you can't find cotija cheese, feta works great too!

I hope you enjoy these simple yet delicious recipes. As always, I am open to comments or suggestions on what you'd like me to make -- whether it's a long-lost family recipe or a way to lighten up a family favorite.

Until next time -- enjoy your barbecue!

My Bizzy Kitchen runs once a month in Food. Follow Biz Velatini on her blog at mybizzykitchen.com/, on Instagram at instagram.com/mybizzykitchen/?hl=en and Facebook at facebook.com/mybizzykitchen.

You can make a summertime feast luscious with Lemon Marinated Chicken Legs.
You can make a summertime feast luscious with Lemon Marinated Chicken Legs. - Courtesy of Biz Velatini
Lemon Marinated Chicken Legs

5 pounds chicken legs

1 bottle lemon marinade (you can find on the salad dressing aisle -- I used G. Hughes Lemon Marinade found at Walmart in Crystal Lake)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Salt and pepper

Salt and pepper the chicken and pour half the bottle of marinade in a large zip-top bag with the chicken. Marinate two hours or overnight. Grill over indirect heat for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Corn and Sugar Snap Pea Salad is made with what was on sale.
Corn and Sugar Snap Pea Salad is made with what was on sale. - Courtesy of Biz Velatini
Corn and Sugar Snap Pea Salad

6 cups frozen corn, blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes, drained

8 ounce package of sugar snap peas, diced

1 teaspoon grapeseed oil

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

¼ cup pickled jalapeños, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon of pepper

Juice of one lemon

Zest of lemon

1 teaspoon honey

½ cup cilantro, chopped

½ cup cotija or feta cheese

After the corn is blanched, let cool. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and cook the sugar snap peas for 5 minutes, until slightly charred. Let cool. Combine everything but the cilantro and cheese if making ahead. Add cilantro and cheese right before serving.

A Strawberry Salsa makes a great sauce for grilled chicken or sauages.
A Strawberry Salsa makes a great sauce for grilled chicken or sauages. - Courtesy of Biz Velatini
Strawberry Salsa

1 cup strawberries, diced

1 cup tomatoes, seeded and diced

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeño, seeded and diced

Juice of one lime

Zest of lime

1 teaspoon honey

Combine and let sit at least an hour before serving. This can be made the day before. Drizzle over grilled chicken.

Grilled Baked Potato Fries are simple yet a flavorful addition to your table.
Grilled Baked Potato Fries are simple yet a flavorful addition to your table. - Courtesy of Biz Velatini
Grilled Baked Potato Fries

4 large potatoes, baked and cooled

1 teaspoon grapeseed oil

Salt and pepper

Cut the potatoes into steak-fry shape. Brush with grapeseed oil, salt and pepper. Cook skin side down for 10 minutes over medium high grill then flip and cook an additional 10 minutes on the flesh side. Serve with ketchup or your favorite barbecue sauce.

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