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Savings tips with grocery inflation at 14-year high

Meaghan Hickey with recipe site Just a Pinch has some tips for hosting a large barbeque while staying within your food budget.

MINNEAPOLIS — Ahead of this holiday weekend, you might be preparing for large gatherings, and often, that means a large menu. This year, the cost of that menu will be a lot higher. The USDA forecasts 2022 inflation is already at a 14-year high.

Meaghan Hickey, editorial director at recipe site Just a Pinch, shares tips on how to host a barbeque for a large gathering while being cost effective.

Shop your pantry

Hickey says you don't necessarily need a trip to the grocery store to find the staples for your grill out.

"Instead of picking up a dessert, you can make a dessert very easily. It costs pennies to make chocolate chip cookies," Hickey said. "You can make cobbler from flour, sugar, butter, you can use frozen fruit, which is inexpensive to buy."

For a side dish, she recommends dressing up canned baked beans with items you likely already have, like brown sugar and mustard.

She says making coleslaw is easy, too.

Build your menu around grocery store sales

"Look at your local grocery store and see what’s on sale and try to build a menu over what would be on sale that week," Hickey said. "If you don’t already have an app downloaded, download a grocery store app because those give exclusive coupons sometime."

She recommends cost-savings apps Fetch and Ibotta.

RELATED: Earn easy money with cashback apps

Use cheaper cuts of meat by adding a marinade

If you make a quick marinade out of vinegar, oil, and seasonings, Hickey says, you're set.

"You don’t need a really nice steak to throw on the grill," she said. "You can throw a flank steak on for a fraction of the cost, even though they are more these days."

Instead of chicken breasts, you can marinate chicken thighs.

"Chicken breasts are great, everyone loves chicken breasts, but they’re very expensive," Hickey said. 

Another idea is to buy frozen meat patties.

"Frozen meat patties. People think they’re gross but they’re not that expensive and you can jazz them up by putting different toppings, cheese on them," she said. "Or if you just grill them, you can get a slow cooker and put some water, Worcestershire sauce, some salt and pepper in there and put the cooked hamburgers in there. They absorb the flavor from the sauce and you can keep them juicy."

Above all, keep it simple

After two years of cancelled gatherings due to COVID, you might be tempted to go big with your menu and decorations. However, Hickey says the relationships will matter most.

"It's like we’re trying to make up for all the time we haven’t spent together and we’re doing all of these elaborate things, and in the end it’s just about being together and eating good food," Hickey said.

RELATED: Officials urge boaters to stay safe as the holiday weekend approaches

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