The idea behind the Charcoal Challenge is to show that you can throw a BBQ on a budget. I set out to highlight that just because it's on a budget it doesn't mean that you have to use poor quality produce. Without sounding 'snobby', I hate 'cheap' meat - you know what I mean, pink sausages, chicken packed with added water etc etc. This doesn't mean to say that I don't have a budget (I do and it's always far smaller for the food shop than I would like) and it doesn't mean to say that I don't like a bargain more than the next person.
So - I decided that I would add a second element to the challenge - on a budget but good quality produce. And as I thought more about it, I added a third criteria - on a budget, good quality and locally sourced where possible.
I divided what I needed into three categories - grocery items, meat and sundries. My £50 needed to feed 9 hungry children and 11 hungry adults.
I decided to go and see my local butchers, Dunhams who are based on London Road in Boston, Lincs, as this is my preferred place to purchase meat from. I allocated £25.00. I went in and spoke to them (I love the fact that you can talk to knowledgeable people at the butchers - rather different than selecting a pack of meat from the supermarket.) I organised to pick up the meat a couple of days later. And this is what I got :-
Lincolnshire Sausages (living in Lincolnshire this a given at any BBQ)
Beef burgers (hand made)
Chicken - marinated in Cajun Spices
Spare Ribs - Chinese Style
Lamb - marinated in a minty glaze
|Dunham's Butchers - London Road - Boston|
Fruit and Vegetables - I popped a post on a local FB page (oh the power of social media) asking for recommendations and up popped SJA Produce which is based around 15 miles from me. They deliver to homes and businesses, and therefore seemed perfect. As a working mum, the fact that they could deliver was a MASSIVE BONUS - I hate spending time shopping after work when I should be spending quality time with the children before they go to bed. I allocated £15 to fruit and vegetables. I spoke to Shelly, the owner the previous week and she explained that I could either have a 'random' box where they pick the contents or I could make some recommendations. In the end, I decided that for me, I would rather have some say in what we are getting...afterall I know what we like (although sometimes it's good to get a few surprises!). After a discussion on the phone, this is what we got (for £15!!!!) :-
Local new potatoes
Cherry Tomatoes - red and yellow
Red mini peppers
Phew - what a list. I have to admit that I was amazed at what we got for out money. At the supermarket, this would have been far more!!!
|SGA Produce - Spalding|
Bottle of wine - a number of guests also brought some drinks as is comman at a BBQ - I have not included the value of these in the total and of course allowed the guests to drink them!
We did add a few things such as tomato ketchup and mayonnaise as these are cupboard essentials. Discounting the cupboard essentials, we spent £46 so were under budget!
Cajun Spiced Chicken
New Potatoes served with butter and mint (from the garden)
Mixed Chopped Salad
Couscous with chillis, ginger, peppers, onions and cherry tomatoes
The sun was shining (thank goodness) and the time came to have the BBQ. It was a beautiful summer's day and an excellent excuse to gather together some good friends and relatives. The children ran around in the garden and we just about managed to persuade them to stop to eat. The food went down very well - I was concerned that we might not have enough meat - but in fact we had some left overs. The children LOVED the cherry tomatoes which actually disappeared before we sat down to eat - they were like naughty children in a sweet shop but at least they were healthy. For dessert we had a vast array of fruit - and boy did it go down well - the strawberries, raspberries and watermelon were devoured particularly quickly by the children and the adults - although one 2 year old took a particular like to the doughnut peaches and nectarines - yum!
Well for £50 I think we managed to throw a very successful BBQ party. In the past, I would have not really watched the budget but then moaned when we got home from the supermarket. Thanks to this challenge Ihave proved to myself and hopefully others that you can support local businesses and save money. We already use Dunhams the butchers but we are now converted and will use SGA produce to deliver some fruit and veg boxes in the future. After all, it's our local economy we should be supporting!
To say that we had fun, is an understatement - you can't beat a good excuse to get friends together on a summer's afternoon and we had a great time - I think the smiles say it all - don't you?
Please note that I was given £50 by Moneysupermarket to hold the BBQ in return for writing this post. However, all views and opinions are my own and were not influenced by this whatsoever.