Outdoor Kitchen Ideas on a Budget

An outdoor kitchen on a budget is easy to achieve with a little imagination.
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By: Margaret Grigsby

Creating an outdoor cooking and entertaining space doesn't require a lot of space or money. That's good news if you're looking for outdoor kitchen ideas on a budget. Your backyard or patio can be easily transformed with just a little creativity.

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Outdoor kitchens typically include a prep and cooking area, some storage, and either a bar or dining table seating. These elements are a good start for the budget-conscious because they don't require utilities like gas, electric or plumbing.

Depending on the space you have to work with, start with an island or all-weather kitchen cart with some storage and counter space. These can be as little as $100 and come in a variety of sizes and materials. Make sure whatever you buy is appropriate for outdoor use and will stand up to the elements.

If you have an empty wall to work with, you may want to install some simple cabinets or a bar-height ledge for storage and serving. These are projects that require just a little DIY know-how and should only take about a day to complete.

Unless you live in a building or area that doesn't allow open flame, grilling is always a favorite for entertaining outside. Grills don't have to be expensive, and most charcoal or wood-burning grills need very little maintenance. Many online vendors offer a great selection of everything from tabletop charcoal to stand-alone gas grills starting as low as $30.

For a budget with a little more wiggle room, upgrade to an island with a built-in grill. Islands are available in a variety of prefabricated, modular design options that start around $1,500. Many islands can be installed on a patio or put on wheels and casters, which will allow you to rearrange your space any time.

Sometimes outdoor drink service and seating are all you really need to enjoy your backyard. A metal tub on a stand with ice for chilling drinks is an inexpensive detail that will make a lot of difference.

Outdoor kitchens can get expensive, and there are a few elements that may push your budget over the edge. Adding anything that requires a contractor or professional, like electrical or plumbing, will add up quickly. Avoid this by positioning your outdoor kitchen near an entrance or in close proximity to a water hose for easy access to kitchenware and cleanup. Opt for a propane tank or charcoal rather than installing gas lines to your grill or cooktop. And look for items that are portable so you can take them with you if you decide to move.

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