Save Some Green on the Red, White and Blue!

By Zaneta Lowe  - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - When it comes to the menu for your 4th of July cookout, there are some ways avoid making it costly.

We take a trip to the grocery store with Doctor's Hospital Executive Chef Stacy Varner.

Tip #1--Make a list, even if it's last minute.

Tip #2-Use paper instead of plastic.

"I take cash with me when I go shopping and I know if I want to spend $200, if that's what my budget is for the function, then I'm gonna take a little calculator or use my Blackberry or whatever and I'm gonna add it all up or add it up in my head," says Varner.

Tip #3--Stay Away from Expensive Name Brands

"I can buy some of the cheapest brands and I add spices to it and doctor it up myself," adds Varner.

However, pay close attention, there are occasions when name brands go on sale, and you get a better bargain.

Tip #4--Price Meats Carefully

"Kind of, keep an eye on it and get an idea of what your regular price is," says Varner.

She says that way you know if something's really on sale.

We find chicken that's on sale for $0.99 cents a pound, it's dark meat, bone in, but Chef Stacy says there's a way around that too.

"You can still grill it with the skin on and then take the skin off later and it'll keep it moist on the grill, the fat's gonna drip off onto the grill anyway."

If you're grilling steak, avoid buying them pre-cut.  Purchase the larger piece of meat and slice the steaks individually yourself.

Tip #5--Plan for Your Next Picnic

"It can go two ways, sometimes they're gonna put things on sale and sometimes they're gonna mark them up because they know people are going to be buying them. So you might want to think ahead and if you know you're gonna do this regular thing on the 4th of July and have a regular menu that you don't deviate much from, buy it ahead of time and stick it in the freezer."

That way your next get together is even cheaper.