Despite Easing Inflation, Fourth Of July Cookout Costs Will Probably Stay Red Hot

Is a barbecue bash on the books for celebrating our nation's birthday next month? Brace yourself: Your budget may be taking a hit if you don't make some tweaks to the menu. If you plan to serve the same items as last year, your grocery bill likely will be higher. Wells Fargo's Agri-Food Institute recently conducted a report on the costs of certain popular barbecue staples and compared them to the average prices for the same period last year. Even though The Week reports inflation, in general, is slowly losing its grip, rising food prices are a trend that has carried over from last year. In 2022, Fourth of July get-togethers were estimated to cost 17% more than in 2021, per Food Dive.

Bread has seen the largest increase in 2023, coming in at a whopping 22% over 2022 prices. Potato chips rose 15%, while canned sodas cost 14% more. Cheese of the sliced American variety will run you 10% more than before, and beer and ice cream are up 9%. However, steak is a mere 3% more than last year, although this ingredient has never been much of a budget-friendly pick. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (FRED), sirloin steak sold in May 2023 averaged over $10 a pound in United States cities. We don't dare ask about filet mignon nor breathe even a whisper of wagyu.

How to cut costs on your July 4 favorites

With food prices in mind, changes may need to be made to ensure you don't bust your budget on a single holiday and wind up celebrating Labor Day with Beanee Weenees straight from the can. Your best bet for the Fourth is to focus on cheaper entrées. Agri-Food Institute data highlights how chicken breasts are priced slightly lower than last year, but if you check your grocer's meat department, you may find thighs and drumsticks are even less expensive. For a cheaper meat option than beef, consider choosing pork.

Another way to save on the price of your entrées is to opt for something like shish kabobs: If you have a smoker, try this recipe for steak kabobs. Making kabobs allows you to alternate pricey pieces of protein with less expensive vegetables. You can also make beef birria or pork carnitas, which use tortillas and toppings like sliced onions and lettuce — neither of which are typically bank-breakers — to help your shredded meat go further.

We would be remiss if we failed to mention a significant piece of good news regarding one particular barbecue staple. Making deviled eggs will likely be more budget-friendly this year, as eggs are still getting cheaper and have fallen about 7% from 2022. Even better, the experts at Marketplace predict these prices are likely to keep falling. We'll drink a toast to that, probably with a glass of still-free tap water.