This is Why Your Backyard Barbecue Will Cost More This Summer
Inflation is driving up the cost of everything from ground beef to ketchup and propane gas.
As summertime and backyard barbecues begin in earnest, the specter of price inflation hangs in the background, ensuring you’ll be ponying up significantly more for your annual Fourth of July backyard barbecue. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI), the price of food items increased 10.1 percent from May 2021 to May 2022, the biggest jump in food prices for the month in more than 40 years.
Read on to find out how much more you’ll spend this year for your summertime backyard barbecue—and why.
Meat Prices Are on the Rise
Inflation, supply chain problems, and global issues like drought in South America and the war between Russia and Ukraine are driving beef costs up, so expect to pay more for those hamburger patties. The per-pound price of ground chuck, the ideal ground beef for hamburgers, climbed 8.9 percent from May 2021 to May 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
If you like to spring for premium cuts of meat for barbecues, prepare to stretch even further to impress guests this Fourth of July. The price of USDA Choice steaks climbed 6.3 percent from last May to this May. One cost-effective strategy for purchasing premium beef cuts, such as steaks, is to wait until the week before a holiday before purchasing your meats, as this is when most supermarkets will have specials. For example, in the week leading into Father’s Day, prices for New York strip steak dropped 8.3 percent from an average of $10.45 per pound to $9.65 per pound at major supermarkets across the nation.
Hot dogs remain an affordable alternative to steaks and burgers (hamburger meat costs about 50 percent more than a package of hot dogs), but you’ll still pay more for them than you did last year. The cost of frankfurters is up 10.4 percent over the past year.
Those who like a good grilled boneless chicken breast will face the biggest price hike this grilling season. A perfect storm of factors, including an avian flu resurgence, inflation, and rising gas prices, have combined to drive up the cost of boneless skinless chicken breasts by nearly 28 percent, from an average of $3.37 per pound to $4.31 per pound, according to the USDA. Bone-in chicken is a better—though not great—deal, with the per-pound cost having increased by about 17 percent.
Disposables, Condiments, and Bread Prices Are Up, Too
You might want to consider ditching paper plates and napkins in favor of reusable plastic or glass plates and washable cloth napkins: According to the CPI, paper product prices have increased 7.3 percent over the past year. Consider replacing disposable products with reusable ones to save on costs. Plus, you’ll have the benefit of classing up your outdoor gathering with actual (yet still unbreakable) dishes, like this melamine dinnerware set, the outdoor pick in our guide to the best dinnerware sets.
Don’t forget that you’re also going to need ketchup, mustard, relish, and other condiments for those burgers and dogs. Those are going to cost you more, too. The CPI reveals that the prices of spices, seasonings, condiments, and sauces jumped more than 10 percent in the past year.
If you’re serving up hot dogs and hamburgers, you’ll need hot dog buns and burger buns to go with them. The cost of bread is up 8.7 percent in the past year, according to the CPI. While encouraging your party goers to go low-carb and eat their frankfurters and patties without buns is one option, a better one is to save on those bread products by purchasing larger 12-count bags.
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Fuel and Beverages Will Cost You
Gas prices aren’t the only fuel costs that have been skyrocketing over the past few months. The prices of cooking fuels, which include propane, pellets, and charcoal, also are up. According to the CPI, the cost of propane has jumped 28 percent. The prices for wood pellets and charcoal, in comparison, have increased by about 10 percent. However, before you retire your gas grill for a charcoal model, consider that charcoal grill fuel costs are still about four times higher than what’s required to run a gas grill.
While beer and wine haven’t endured the same cost increases as meat and fuel, their prices have still inflated enough that you might want to change your backyard barbecue to a BYOB event. Beer prices were up 4.5 percent in May, according to the CPI. Those who serve wine at their backyard soirees face less of a hit, with the retail cost of wine increasing just 1.8 percent.
While beer and wine costs might be experiencing moderate price increases, that’s not the case for barbecues’ most popular carbonated beverages. Sodas have shown some of the highest price increases, jumping more than 13 percent in the past year, per the CPI.
Expensive Sides and Unjust Desserts
Hamburgers, hot dogs, and steaks wouldn’t be the same without the sides that go with them, such as potato salad, watermelon, chips, and others. As with main barbecue courses, expect to pay more for sides in general. The CPI shows that the cost of fresh fruits at the supermarket is up by 8.5 percent, while prepared salads from the deli will cost you 11.5 percent more than they did a year ago.
While your partygoers might scream for ice cream, you’ll be screaming in horror at the increased cost of this popular summertime dessert. Ice cream is up 9.6 percent over the past year. Unfortunately, you won’t find any relief by switching to cookies or pie, since the cost of bakery products is up more than 11 percent from last summer.