Memorial Day Cookout Foods- Affordable Classics

A table with a variety of Memorial day foods

Memorial Day is the first opportunity most of us have to enjoy an outdoor party after being cooped up during the cold winter months. Whether you’ve been asked to bring a dish to a cookout or you’re the one hosting, these ideas for affordable cookout food hit the mark on taste and are easy on your wallet.

Hot Dog Bar

Hot dogs are a cheap cookout crowd-pleaser. There’s even an abundance of vegetarian-friendly options these days! Grill up a bunch of dogs, then serve them with a full spread of various toppings: onions, chili, cheese, pickles, salsa, coleslaw, sauerkraut, crushed up potato chips (for some crunch), hot peppers, bacon bits - whatever you can imagine! The possibilities are endless. This is a surefire way to make an ordinary food feel special.


Whether you’re skewering chicken, shrimp, pork, or tofu, kabobs make for an awesome presentation and are super easy to execute.

Simply pick your favorite protein, cube it up, and layer it on the skewers with veggies. Brush with your favorite barbecue sauce or marinade and grill to perfection. You can serve kabobs on their own or with rice or pitas and have extra sauce or marinade on the side.

Salad Bar

Much like a hot dog bar, a salad bar takes a very simple, affordable food and makes it stand out. Lay out your favorite lettuces as the base and then go crazy with toppings for a make-your-own salad smörgåsbord.

Grilled Veggies (& Fruit!)

A huge platter of colorful, grilled veggies is a visual stunner, and it’s also insanely easy to prepare and cheap to boot! Drizzle the veggies with pesto or balsamic vinegar or serve alongside feta cheese and hummus.

This method applies to fruit as well. Peaches, plums, pineapples, and even whole strawberries grill up beautifully and are a showstopper when served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Barbequed Baked Beans

Beans are, pound for pound, one of the lowest-cost items you can keep in your pantry or prepare for a meal. And what cookout is complete without a smoky pot of beans? (At least for those of us here in Central PA.)

While you’ve got the grill fired up for your hot dog bar and grilled veggies, why not use it to make some baked beans? That’s right - you can totally make baked beans on the grill! Here's how: grab a can of kidney beans, a can of northern beans, and a can of baked beans. In a disposable foil pan, combine the beans with your favorite barbecue sauce, some mustard, and brown sugar, all to taste. Cook over medium heat for about an hour until the beans are cooked and the sauce starts to thicken. Voila! Grilled baked beans!

Skillet S’mores

No cookout is complete without dessert and s’mores are a quintessential cookout choice. But if you haven’t got a fire pit, don’t sweat it. Just like the baked beans above, you can make s’mores on the grill, too!

Here’s an easy method: lay graham crackers all along the bottom and sides of a cast iron skillet. You can line the skillet with aluminum foil to make for easy clean-up later. Then, spread marshmallows and chocolate chips all throughout the skillet. Throw it on the grill and cook until the marshmallows start to melt, and the graham crackers are toasty, about 15 minutes. We don’t think it would hurt to serve the skillet family style, hot off the grill and topped with cold ice cream, either. YUM.

Maximum Deliciousness with Minimum Spend

Well, if this delicious and affordable cookout doesn’t earn you some praise, we don’t know what will. While you’re combing the grocery aisles for all the ingredients, make sure you use your PSECU Founder’s Rewards Card. You’ll earn 2%* or 1.5% in cash rewards on every purchase, every time. Plus, rewards never expire and there are no category restrictions for rewards earnings. Don’t have one yet? Apply today!

Apply for our Founder's Card Today*You can earn 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. You can earn 2% cash rewards on purchases if you maintain a PSECU checking account and qualifying monthly direct deposit(s) of at least $500. See the Visa® Founder's Card and Visa® Alumni Rewards Card Rewards Program Terms and Conditions for full details.

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