Your July 4 Barbecue Might Cost 17% More This Year. Here's How to Save

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  • The cost of meat in particular is up substantially right now.
  • Higher costs could put a damper on some people's July 4 plans.
  • If your guests offer to bring something, let them!

At a time when prices are rising, it pays to do what you can to lower your costs.

While barbecuing on July 4 certainly isn't a given or a rule, let's face it -- it's a tradition many of us uphold. But whether you're barbecuing as a family or are hosting a big event for neighbors and friends, you may be looking at a much higher credit card tab this year. That's because the cost of meat in particular is soaring. And since that's a barbecue staple item, many consumers could be in for a shock when they start loading up on July 4 supplies.

The American Farm Bureau Federation reports that ground beef prices are up 36% from a year ago. Meanwhile, the cost of chicken breasts is 33% higher.

All told, those barbecuing on July 4 can expect to spend 17% more on food than they'd usually spend. And that's a cost many people can't afford right now, especially in light of soaring gas prices.

If you're hosting a July 4 shindig, you're likely motivated to keep your expenses as low as possible. Here's how you can pull that off.

1. Buy in bulk

If you're barbecuing for a crowd, a good bet is to stock up on bulk items, from meat to hamburger buns to chips and condiments. To this end, your local Costco could be a good source of bulk items, but if you don't have a membership, don't sweat it. Your local supermarket may have certain items available in bulk, and that could lead to significant savings.

2. Skip the side dishes nobody wants

If you host a July 4 barbecue every year, and you find that every year, you're left with tons of potato salad left over, here's a good bet -- don't make potato salad this year. Chances are, you know your guests well enough to determine which items you should be serving and which you can skip. And if your famous potato salad doesn't tend to be very popular, there's no sense in spending the money to whip it up.

3. Don't be shy about having guests chip in

Okay, so you're clearly not going to ask your July 4 guests to drop a $20 bill on your deck table to help cover the cost of food. But what you can do is say yes when guests offer to bring something -- which they most likely will.

As a host, it's natural to want to take care of everything. But there's no need to be a martyr at a time when the cost of food is so outrageous. So if you're having three families to your house on July 4, have one person bring fruit, ask another to bring an appetizer, and have the third bring drinks or a salad. That way, you'll have less to buy.

It's natural to want to go all out on July 4. But at a time when food costs are so high, you may want to rethink that. At the same time, do your best to load up on bulk items and assign items your guests can bring to keep your expenses as low as possible. While that may result in fewer leftovers, it could also spell a lot of relief for your wallet.

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