Foodie news: Summer barbecue on a budget | SierraSun.com

Foodie news: Summer barbecue on a budget

Chef Heather Hunsaker
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; With school soon out for summer, outdoor activities are getting into full swing. One fun summer time activity is outdoor grilling. Barbecues are a great way to celebrate summer holidays such as Independence Day, Fatherand#8217;s Day, Labor Day, or to simply celebrate the carefree days of summer. Even if you are on a tight budget, a laid-back backyard barbecue is an inexpensive way to enjoy time with friends and family.

To save money without sacrificing all the fun follow these tips for a budget friendly barbecue:

The meat: One way to keep costs low is to choose only one protein to serve. If hot dogs are on sale at the grocery store, grill hot dogs and set up a hot dog and#8216;barand#8217; with all the popular toppings. Also save money by being resourceful and using what you already have on hand. Grill chicken or shrimp if that is what you have. Keeping it simple with only one main protein saves time and money.

Side dishes: Potato salad, coleslaw and baked beans are all popular and fairly inexpensive barbecue side dishes. However, if you are looking to keep things easy and inexpensive, stick with fresh veggies. Summertime means an overwhelming amount of fresh, seasonal vegetables which are available at low prices. Corn on the cob, zucchini and squash all grill beautifully.

Dessert: With fresh summer fruit available try grilling some peaches, making a cobbler or simply enjoying some fresh berries with homemade whipped cream.

Beverages: Lemonade and ice tea are extremely inexpensive and will keep your guests cool in the heat of the summer. If you are looking for a cost-effective way to serve alcoholic beverages, choose one variety of beer to serve, one specialty drink or ask guests to bring their own.

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Serving: While paper plates and plastic cups may be convenient for gatherings, they add extra unnecessary costs. Using what you have on hand will keep your shopping list down to the essentials.

Looking to add a little variety to your grilling menu this summer? Try these flavorful chicken parmesan burgers.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes, serves 4-5

Patties:

1 pound ground chicken

1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/4 cup marinara sauce

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

1/2 Tablespoon Italian seasoning

2 Tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped

1 egg

Burgers:

1/3 cup marinara sauce

5 slices mozzarella cheese

5 buns

Spinach

Mix burger ingredients together and shape into 4 to 5 patties. Heat grill to medium. Lightly oil grill grate. Place patties on grill and cook 5 minutes per side or until cooked through. Spread approximately 1 Tablespoon marinara sauce on each bun. Top bun with cooked chicken patty. Top patties with additional marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Top with spinach and serve.

and#8212; Chef Heather attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family friendly meals since she was nine years old in her motherand#8217;s kitchen. She is an avid crockpotter and knows how to get food on the table in a pinch. She currently serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site http://www.foodonthetable.com.