Don’t overpay to celebrate Independence Day

Are you planning to stay home and host a barbecue, or would you rather visit another city to celebrate the Fourth of July? Either way, you can have a special Independence Day within a reasonable budget. So take these tips to heart while you plan your day.

Eat.         

If you’re going to break out the grill and show off a little, have a strategy in mind before you approach the meat counter. You don’t have to treat everyone to a porterhouse. Go for a skirt or flank steak, and skip the boneless chicken breasts for legs and thighs, which have more flavor.

If you’re sticking with burgers and brats, you can jazz them up by putting some bacon into your hamburger patties and pre-boiling your brats in beer.

Think outside the box for the fixings table, too – put some slices of gouda and Swiss next to the cheddar, and let people make a more interesting hot dog with fruit-based salsas and pickled vegetables as a topping.

stephanie-mccabe-92133As long as you’ve got your grill fired up and your marinade game going, you might as well make enough for leftovers. You’ll be tired from the party, so it just makes sense. And you won’t risk running out of food if you get unexpected guests.

Don’t waste fuel by getting distracted. Once you have your coals or propane going, pay attention, keep the grill surface full and get your protein cooked efficiently.

Drink.       

Don’t make your guests honor our great nation with a lukewarm Natural Light. The Fourth of July should feel like a special occasion, so make a signature cocktail or two. Infused vodkas and other spirits are easy to make ahead of time, and you and your friends can be sipping on a strawberry mojito or a frozen lemonade made with blueberry vodka instead of the same old wine or beer you usually grab without thinking. neha-deshmukh-9593A bold, fruity sangria is always a crowd pleaser, too. All the aggressive fruit flavors mean you don’t have to use top-shelf liquor.

For the kids, a simple lemonade with slices of strawberry and blueberries is close enough to red, white and blue to feel festive without getting too complicated.

Be merry.        

If you’ve just got to get out of town, try the cheap options. Stay within driving distance, and crash with friends or family if possible.

The Midwest has plenty to offer for the fourth, all without the financial commitment of flights. Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, and Oklahoma City are all short drives away. They also happen to be rip-roaring destinations for patriots on Independence Day.

The Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, Grand Lake and dozens of others offer perfect weekend getaways. With five to seven friends you can rent a cabin for under $80 per person. Cozy sleeping quarters will ensure that you get to know each other well – so just consider that a bonus.

Of course, you’re always welcome to join us in Jefferson City for Salute to America. The andrey-larin-29559.jpgweekend includes various family-friendly activities, concerts and great food. The event culminates with a fireworks display set to music on July 4th.

This year’s Fourth of July falls on a Tuesday, which might make for smaller crowds and more muted celebrations whether you stay home or head out. No matter what your budget is, just be sure to grab a few sparklers and gather the people you love, and you’ll have a party worth remembering.

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