10 Cheap And Easy Cookout Ideas For The Fourth of July

We received a last minute invitation to a cookout back on Memorial Day.  I brought some ordinary Rice Krispie treats and sliced watermelon, because they were cheap and easy to prepare.  With the Fourth of July coming up, I’ve compiled a list of recipes that are a bit more impressive for a neighborhood or family gathering, but are inexpensive and won’t take too much effort to prepare.


Desserts tend to catch my eye, but there are some ideas for side dishes here as well.  I tried to find food that would work well outside and go with the standard fare of hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, and macaroni salad.  In the interest of frugality, it would be nice to use vegetables from our garden.  That’s why my first idea is a refreshing cucumber and tomato salad.  This one looks really easy to make.

cucumber salad
Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Another option to use our tomatoes are these yummy looking appetizers.  While they’re probably best when warm, I think that they would also be tasty as part of a picnic.  You could even make a gourmet hamburger by using one of these tomatoes as your garnish.

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes

As our tomatoes may not be ready by the Fourth, I found a few other recipes, including some yummy desserts.  It wouldn’t cost too much to make this Strawberry Cheesecake Salad.  The most expensive ingredient would be the strawberries, but they are often on sale this time of the year.

Strawberry Cheesecake Salad

I just have to try this next one, Smores Pie.  All the goodness of the traditional campfire treat, no sticks necessary and probably less of mess.

Smores Chocolate Pie

Watermelon is always a good dish for a cookout, but not very exciting.  I love the idea of using a cookie cutter to dress it up for the occasion.  I could see Goofball helping to prepare this one.

Star Spangled Fruit Salad

This next desert is so easy to prepare, a child can do it (this blogger’s son is featured in the step-by-step instructions).  The site claims that it only costs $4 to make, but it’s still pretty and looks delicious.  We actually make a version of this with different flavors of pudding and those premade pie shells.  My favorite so far?  We did layers of chocolate and banana pudding, and it was delicious.

Kool-Aid Pie
Kool-Aid Pie

These cupcakes look awesome!  I found some on Pinterest that actually use tri-color batter as well, but that doesn’t really seem necessary.  All that you need to do is make any type of cupcake and adorn them with the three different colors of sprinkles.

Snow Cone Cupcakes

Moving away from all of this sweetness, this next recipe looks unique and tasty.  You could make it cheaper by sticking with cheese, and maybe adding some beans.  Why can’t you serve a quesadilla at a cookout?  Just slice it into smaller triangles and it would compliment the other food just fine.

Margherita Pizza Quesadilla
Margherita Pizza Quesadilla

Corn is very inexpensive, so it might be a good idea to volunteer to bring this as a side dish.  You can flavor it with all sorts of different spices or cheese, and cook it in your oven, crockpot, or the grill.  We like to wrap it in tin foil and place the cobs around the edge of a bonfire.

Corn On The Cob

This last idea is definitely different.  Everyone loves bacon, right?  I think that miniature BLT sandwiches or sliders would go great with traditional cookout food.  It’s definitely All-American cuisine.

blt bites
BLT Bites

We’re trying to save as much money as possible, in order to pay off our debt and move closer towards our goal of financial semi-independence.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t socialize.  There are plenty of ways you can participate in mainstream culture without spending a lot.  I personally can’t wait until the Fourth of July, bring on the food and fireworks!


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