Cookouts take bigger bite out of your wallet

Among safety tips when using a grill this Memorial Day weekend: Use long-handled tools to keep your hands at a safe distance from the heat and flames while grilling. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON – Fourth of July barbecues offer the perfect holiday meal. Grill up some burgers and hot dogs, add some corn on the cob, grab a side of potato salad and a slice of apple pie.

But this meal will have you digging deeper in your wallet.

The cost of an average cheeseburger made on the grill at home was $2.07 in April, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s up 61 percent from the price of a cheeseburger in April of 2000.

“It costs more to make a hamburger now than it did a year ago,” says Ricky Volpe, an economist with the USDA. “However this is just about the cheapest time of year to do it.”

Cheapest?

“Supermarkets have a tendency to actually reduce prices for foods that have a clear seasonal demand peak,” Volpe says.

“That’s true for ice cream in July, it’s certainly true for turkeys at Thanksgiving, and it’s true for ground beef right around Memorial Day through the Fourth of July.”

In May, the average cost of a pound of ground beef was $3.31 compared to $2.99 last year.

Ground beef prices are at record highs, Volpe says.

Because of Midwestern droughts, a lack of good pastures and hay has spurred cattle farmers to cut their losses and trim the herds. The smaller inventory creates the high demand and prices.

Volpe does not expect the price of beef to come down before 2014.

So depending where you shop and what holiday pricing the store offers, your July Fourth cookout for a family of four will cost between $14 and $23.

Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.


Advertiser Content