10 Best Cities for Affordable Summer Cookouts

Summer is prime time to fire up the grill and enjoy the great outdoors.

(Image credit: iStockphoto)

Summer is prime time to fire up the grill and enjoy the great outdoors. But because cloudy skies and expensive food and drinks can put a damper on any backyard barbeque, we went in search of cities that offer an enviable combination of ample sunshine and affordable prices on cookout staples. We found ten that fit the bill.

To compile our list of the best cities for cheap summer cookouts, we looked at metropolitan areas with an above-average number of sunny days during the summer and populations over 50,000. In the typical U.S. city, the sun shines 66.5% of the time between June and August, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

We turned to the Council for Community and Economic Research, which tracks living expenses across the U.S., to calculate the cost of cookout staples. Specifically, we looked at the prices of a pound of 80% lean ground beef ($3.08, on average), an 11.5-ounce bag of potato chips ($3.51), a two-liter bottle of soda ($1.52) and a six-pack of beer ($8.39). The total cost for the average U.S. city adds up to $16.50. The price tags for these cookout staples in the ten cities that made our cut came in from 4.6% to 14.6% lower.

Kaitlin Pitsker
Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Pitsker joined Kiplinger in the summer of 2012. Previously, she interned at the Post-Standard newspaper in Syracuse, N.Y., and with Chronogram magazine in Kingston, N.Y. She holds a BS in magazine journalism from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.