I was really pleased this month to be invited to take part in ‘The Charcoal Challenge’ (one of a series of bloggers’ competitions run by Moneysupermarket.com), as I’ve never hosted my own barbecue before and have been dying to test out some frugal, healthy and also some veggie barbecue recipes. Even better, we were each given £50 to make our ultimate barbecue a reality, and as if getting to throw a free barbecue isn’t exciting enough, one blogger will end up winning a £250 prize!
So I sat down with Dave to look at how to throw the most epic barbecue possible for £50 – complicated by the fact that we don’t have a barbecue (or even a private back garden, since we live in a block of flats – but we used our communal garden and as it wasn’t too sunny a day in the end, no-one else seemed to mind us taking it over!).
My lovely manager lent me her mini barbecue so that was problem number one solved. Dave pointed out that if we only invited a few people, we would have a much bigger budget per person (bearing in mind we need to get charcoal for the barbecue as well as food) but I decided that it would be much more in keeping with the challenge to throw a bigger rather than smaller party so we ended up with a guest list of 11 friends (plus us), two of whom sadly had to cancel on the day, but I obviously didn’t know this in the planning stage so had to cater for 13.
When I was planning the food, I knew that I wanted to have lots of different options and loads of nice salads and things as well as meat. It was also a priority to provide well for the one vegetarian guest, as I used to absolutely dread barbecues as a vegetarian. Too often all I could eat was maybe a Quorn sausage or burger (and I hate fake meat), white processed bread and a few limp, neglected lettuce leaves. Usually I would bring my own nice veggie option and then be annoyed by all the meat-eaters descending like a cloud of locusts and leaving hardly any for me.
In the end, I went to Tesco and spent £49.83 – as follows:
5kg charcoal briquettes £5 Large instant BBQ £5 Meat Pork ribs 850g x2 £6 Chicken drumsticks 9pk £4.32 Turkey mince 500g x3 £8.97 Veg Garlic bulb 30p Value small potatoes 1kg x3 £2.07 Value onions 1kg 63p Corn on the cob 2pk x2 £3 RTC mini peppers 500g £1.62 Courgettes 940g £1.52 Limes x2 60p Cucumber 65p Salad tomatoes 6pk x2 £2 RTC spring onions White cabbage 650g 52p RTC living coriander 68p Ginger 100g 22p RTC iceberg lettuce 59p General Value ketchup 18p Value mayonnaise 38p White bread flour 1.5kg £1 Sliced gherkins £1.29 Value kidney beans 21p Halloumi 225g £2.35 Value passata 29p
So what did I make with all this?
- Hot Thai-spiced turkey burgers x10
- Mild curried turkey burgers x5
- Kidney bean & courgette burgers x3
- All the ribs were slow cooked in the oven in homemade barbecue sauce, then finished on the barbecue (they were definitely my favourite thing!)
- The chicken drumsticks were marinaded in 5-spice, soy sauce and some other Chinese flavours
- Chicken & veg kebabs x6
- Halloumi & veg kebabs x5
- Lots of veg-only kebabs
- Traditional mayonnaise-y potato salad
- Honey mustard potato salad
- White sesame-topped burger buns x24
- Mexican-inspired tomato, cucumber and coriander salad
- Homemade coleslaw
- Corn on the cob
Did we manage to feed everyone for £50 – well yes! Actually it was only £40 as we had to buy the charcoal and instant barbecue. I’d better confess that I did use some things I had in already, mostly herbs and spices, but also two chicken breasts from the freezer, yeast, honey, mustard, eggs, carrots and a few other bits and bobs. Hopefully this is still in the spirit of the challenge as we’ve got plenty of leftovers so probably didn’t use more than £50 worth of stuff on the day overall. Our friends did also bring things with them – lots of booze, dessert and some beef burgers and I also got some ready-made kebabs from my manager at work.
Not only did I manage to feed 11 of us well for the £40 I had to spend on food, we had tons left over – tonight Dave and I are having all the leftover kebabs with leftover corn on the cob, Mexican salad and potato salad to use up what we couldn’t freeze (there’s loads so it might be Monday’s lunch too). We also have about 8 burgers, 12 rolls and 2 chicken drumsticks I’ve stashed in the freezer for future meals. I reckon we could have easily fed 15-16 people or more with what we had (though we’d have needed a bigger barbecue as the instant one was just rubbish).
We had a fantastic time and amazingly the weather held – it was scheduled to rain but we never saw a drop! We live on the ground floor so Dave was able to prop a speaker up against the open kitchen window and we even had music. After it started getting chilly, we retired into the flat and enjoyed the rest of the alcohol (actually we have lots of beer left as well, bonus!) maybe just a little too enthusiastically. All in all, a great night in and thank you, Moneysupermarket.com, for giving me the chance to host my first-ever barbecue!
I will be blogging the recipes for everything I made in the coming weeks – so keep checking back for posts in my new barbecue recipes series!
This is my entry into ‘The Charcoal Challenge’ – use the hashtag #TheCharcoalChallenge on Twitter to see what other bloggers managed to do with their £50.