Independence Day is the number one day of the year to host a barbecue for friends and family. Hosting a cookout does not have to be expensive. There are ways to please the palates of your guests and save money.

Plan to provide the meat, poultry, and seafood you intend to grill. Keep it simple, hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, Italian sausage, and chicken are popular mainstays at a cookout. The grocery stores will be featuring these items on sale leading up to the holiday. Watch for manufacture coupons to pair up with the sale items.

Shop discount grocery stores or wholesale clubs for low prices on buns, condiments, chips, and paper products.

Provide one or two hearty sides like potato salad, macaroni salad, baked beans, or pasta salad.

Invite your guests to bring a side, fruit, or vegetable platter, chips and dip or dessert to share. To prevent duplicates ask them to let you know what they are bringing beforehand.

Stock up on a selection of beverages. The week leading up to a holiday is the best time to find deals on soft drinks, bottled water, and beer. Offer a selection of diet and regular sodas or invite each guest to bring a drink of their choice.

Soft drink deals to save you money: *Giant Eagle - Pepsi or Mountain Dew 12 packs - 4 for $10

*Kroger - Coca-Cola, or Pepsi selected varieties 12 pack, 12 oz. cans or 6 pack, 24 oz. bottles - 4 for $10 *7-up soft drinks 12 pack, cans, 6 pack, 16.9 oz. bottles or 8 pack, 12 oz. bottles - 4 for $10.00

*Meijer - 24 pack cans, 7-Up, A&W root beer, Sunkist, Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, Pepsi, Sierra Mist or Mountain Dew - 2 for $10 (limit 2)

For now happy shopping!

Laurie Dixon, TheBAG Lady