I always love a good cookout during the summer. Being outside among family and friends with some good food and drink can make for great times. Growing up in the Northeast, our summers were hot, humid and there were always plenty of barbeques. But now that I live in the southern part of the US in Florida, I now realize that barbeque is on another level in this part of the country. In the spirit of barbeques, for this week’s blog post I recommend some wallet friendly things that you can do with your friends and family this summer.
BBQ Map of the US by The BBQ Beat
Barbeques: The quintessential summer activity. Now that I live in the south, I see that cookouts are a big deal here. We may have some good cookouts up north where I’m from, but down here it is pretty much a lifestyle. Most of the dishes that we love to eat at our cookouts have southern roots. The roots of barbecuing come from cooks in the south needing to cook cheaper cuts of meat for longer to make them more palatable and tender. You will find that the various regions of the south even have their own bbq sauces. Florida does not really have it’s own style of sauce, but my favorite kind is Carolina style.
Picnics: Similar to a barbeque, picnics are a nice opportunity to eat outside during the summer months. Picnics can be a little more intimate, which makes them great for a date. By purchasing everything you need at the grocery store, you save money and know exactly what you’re getting to eat. All you have to do next is pick your favorite spot to eat outside whether it’s your favorite park or just your own back yard.
Minor League Baseball: When I think summer, I think baseball. With 244 teams across the US, the chances are that you have a team close by to you. Minor league baseball has the environment of the professional stadiums at a much more affordable price. Since minor league teams don’t have the star power of the major leagues (MLB) they put an extra emphasis on in-game entertainment and things like free giveaways to fans.
Museums: Is it too hot out to be outside? If so, go inside to the air conditioning! During the summer, museums are oases of A/C and artifacts. Don’t forget to check your local paper and things like Groupon for discounts on tickets.
Local libraries: Another option if the heat is too much. Libraries are a resource that we should utilize no matter what the season. Just like museums, libraries may have special promotions during the summer and are both family and wallet friendly.
Farmer’s Markets: The fruits and veggies at a farmer’s market often times are cheaper than the grocery store and you’re also supporting local businesses by buying their products; you may even get to meet the farmer who grew your fruits and veggies. Now that I live in Florida, I love all the fresh fruits that are available to me. You can learn a lot about where you live by visiting your local farmer’s market. Uriah’s Urban Farms provides fresh produce to the University of South Florida campus and many restaurants in the Tampa area.
Take a hike: It’s tough to find something that can be as therapeutic as fresh air and the sounds of nature around you. You don’t have to go to a US National Park to enjoy the wonders of nature, but if you do, you should look into the passes offered by the National Parks Service. Don’t forget to hydrate and maybe bring a picnic. A great park close to me in Tampa is Lettuce Lake Regional Park.
Gardening: If you like to be outside and to work with your hands, gardening may be for you. Even if you have a few herbs growing from a windowsill, having plants around enhances your surroundings and yourself. There are many studies on the benefits of having plants in your home and workplace, but I liked this one in particular from Texas A&M, which said how having plants around can have a calming effect and increase concentration.
Yard Sales: By having a yard sale, you accomplish a lot of things. First off, you get rid of stuff you weren’t using and make a little money. Yard sales also offer the opportunity to meet some of your neighbors as some communities hold their yard sales together. And although you just got rid of some of your stuff you can buy someone else’s stuff at a bargain price.
Take a nap/sunbathe: This takes minimal effort. All you need is a comfy place indoors if you want to beat the heat or a nice lounge chair outside if you also want to work on that tan. Pair with your favorite book, podcast or sangria recipe.