Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Charcoal Challenge

I don't know about the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, but here in England we're currently basking in the warmth of a scorching hot heat wave. The skies are a flawless blue, the sun is shining brighter than the Blackpool illuminations, and the heat has engulfed us in a stifling thirty degrees or so for the last fortnight. It's fair to say summer is finally here, and for a change, it looks set to stay!

While I may not be able to take advantage of this glorious weather by heading to the beach, park, or beer garden, I can of course, enjoy the sunshine at home, and what better way to do so than throwing a barbecue with my family? 

On Saturday, I did just that all thanks to Money Supermarket's Charcoal Challenge here. The challenge was to throw a barbecue for family and friends on a budget of £50 (which was provided), to show that it could be done. It was a challenge I knew I could do, and with my older sister on board, we headed off to Tesco to buy our supplies.

The majority of our barbecue supplies were really reasonably priced and inexpensive. I spent £48 on food, drink, essentials, and decorations in Tesco, and went over budget by just £1.50 by later picking up a few things we'd forgotten, such as cream, kebab skewers, and bananas. (Try grilling bananas in foil with chocolate buttons in the middle!)

I must admit my sister provided the chicken breasts and ribs from her freezer, but we had more than enough food without them. With just five of us to feed, we had far more than we needed, and plenty of food and supplies left over for another barbecue and additional meals. As we didn't have a huge crowd to cater for, we didn't have to go for the cheapest burgers and sausages, and were able to afford summer fruit and decorations, which we wouldn't usually buy for a barbecue. However, we could easily have bought more for our money to cater to a larger crowd by choosing the value options, and perhaps avoiding the decorations.

Our most expensive purchases were the burgers (£5.00 for 10), and the charcoal which was £5.50. Although, we have half the charcoal and six burgers left for our next barbecue!

Below is a list of what I bought.

You may wonder why you can't see anything alcoholic, and that's simply because I can't currently drink, and like most households, we generally have a few alcoholic beverages in the fridge / garage for when something a little stronger is needed. 

We held the barbecue at my older sister and brother-in-law's house last Saturday afternoon, on what was one of the hottest days of the year so far. My younger sister and I spent the afternoon there, but my parents had to work so we bought them a plate each home with us.

So, let's talk charcoal! From past experience, I can tell you that the best charcoal to use is the instant light kind; the type where you light the bag. We used ordinary barbecue coals the weekend before, and it took us the best part of two hours to light the barbecue! With the instant light bags, the coal was white in just ten minutes!

We began by cooking the rather vibrant Chinese chicken, and garlic chicken breasts. We get them from our local butchers and they're amazing.

Here on the barbie we have burgers, sausages, chicken, and corn on the cob (in the foil). We later cooked prawn kebabs in a garlic marinade, and bananas in foil. We were planning to make s'mores but we all got too overheated and had ice cream instead.

We weren't able to display the entire spread on the table as it was just too hot for some foods, but I think it still looked pretty, and the food was delicious. I personally enjoyed the watermelon, which was refreshing on such a hot day.

I was particularly pleased with the tablecloth, napkins, and straws which, of course, had to be polka dot! They made the table look lovely, and we have enough left for our next BBQ. They were so inexpensive, too.

There's not yet a single plant or flower in my sister's new garden, so we added some bunting and garlands to brighten the space up a little, and I think it worked perfectly. The pretty flower garlands were just a £1 each from Tesco (we bought two). The bunting came down from my bedroom wall for the occasion, but originally came from Sainsburys earlier this year.

We don't usually decorate our gardens for barbecues, but the garden looked so bright and cheerful with these inexpensive garlands strung across the fences, and provided us with a lovely laid back area to relax in.

As you can see in the photos above, the weather was blissfully beautiful and a scorching thirty one degrees! We relaxed out in the garden for a couple of hours with the sun shining down on us, and summery nineties tunes blaring out from MTV while we enjoyed our budget barbecue. We ate burgers, corn on the cob, watermelon, strawberries and cream- all those perfect barbecue staples- before the heat overwhelmed us and we found solace indoors.

The barbecue really went down a treat with my family, and it was nice to be able to give something back to them after all they've done for me since I injured my back. It was such a fun challenge to take part in, and it's clear a barbecue can be thrown on a budget! If you like your barbecues, why not check out the Charcoal Challenge, and find out if you can take part!

*I was provided with £50 to buy food, drink, and decorations for my barbecue, but all words, photos, and choices are, as always, my own.


  1. I am so jealous!! A BBQ in the sunshine? Sounds like the best thing ever right now (of course, I'm in the middle of winter down here in nz). Everything looks lovely, especially the bunting :)

    1. We all had such a lovely afternoon enjoying it in such scorching weather, but the weather is so hot right now we're not coping so well in it! It's rare to plan a BBQ in advance and actually have amazing weather for it, so it was perfect. Although, I'd gladly trade you the weather for a day or two so I can cool down a bit!! Thank you! The bunting had to be one of my favourite parts :)

  2. Replies
    1. You should email them and see if you can take part! The challenge finishes on the 1st of August, so you might still be able to!! xx


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