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Stay-at-Home Summer Dining on a Budget: 3 Steps to Creating the Ultimate Backyard Dining Experience

Guest article written by Ray Flynn from DiyGuys.netOutdoor dining on a budgetImage via Unsplash

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are changing the ways we spend our time at home — and we’re taking advantage of the great outdoors by going on lots of walks, bike rides, hikes, or simply lounging in our own backyards. Even when stay-at-home orders expire and we start gathering with our friends and families, many of us will feel more comfortable socializing on our patios and decks rather than inviting people into our homes. 

If you’re looking for a great way to entertain your household members and guests during and after the pandemic, consider the benefits of building an outdoor kitchen and dining space. You can create the ultimate backyard dining space — complete with a kitchen and sitting area — even when you’re on a budget and don’t have a whole lot of DIY experience. Read on to learn how to do it in just three steps!

1. Plan and Build Your Backyard Kitchen

When you’re ready to build an outdoor kitchen and dining space, you’ll need to set a budget and plan your project. When setting a budget for your project, you’ll first need to decide whether to hire a professional contractor or tackle the project on your own. According to HomeAdvisor, your project costs will be about 20- to- 40 percent lower if you complete the project yourself. Plus, free online plans are available to guide you from start to finish — and you can save time and even more money by purchasing an outdoor kitchen island instead of buying and installing everything separately.

As you plan your project and purchase your materials, you’ll also want to consider the following:

  • The location of your kitchen and whether you’ll build it on an existing patio 
  • How much square footage you’ll need for the kitchen and dining area
  • The types of appliances and materials you’ll need to build your backyard kitchen, including a refrigerator, countertop, and grill, cooktop, or oven
  • Storage options, such as built-in cupboards, rolling storage, or hanging storage 
  • Coverage options, such as awnings, trees, or pergolas

To save money on your renovation, it’s best to build the kitchen on an existing patio — and to keep the space as close to your home as possible. Additionally, you’ll save on installation costs if you don’t need to worry about plumbing, gas lines, or electricity.

2. Decorate Your Dining Space

Once you’ve built your outdoor kitchen, it’s time to start purchasing your dining furniture, patio decor, and stocking your backyard dining area with a few pantry essentials. Even on a budget, you can decorate your backyard dining area with patterned rugs, creative lighting, and brightly colored plates. Plus, you’ll save on your purchases if you shop online at budget-friendly retailers like Overstock. Outdoor furniture and decor can add up quickly — especially if you need seating for large gatherings — but you’ll cut costs if you look online for promo codes and cashback offers before placing your order.  

3. Enjoy a Delicious Meal in Your New Outdoor Kitchen

Now that you have your new backyard cooking and dining space, it’s time to put it to the test! Even if you can’t get to the store or have groceries delivered by mealtime, you can easily look online for delicious, quality recipes that use non-perishable food items from your COVID-19 stockpile. WIth a few shelf-stable items from your pantry, you can make sloppy joes out of red lentils, quesadillas with black beans and corn, and polenta with roasted tomatoes. 

After being quarantined inside your home for so long, nothing will compare to having an outdoor kitchen and dining space to enjoy with your loved ones. Plus, you don’t have to spend a whole lot of money on your project — especially if you stick to the basics and build it yourself. With these budget-friendly tips to guide you, it won’t be long at all before you have a backyard cooking and dining space to call your own!

About the author

Ray Flynn’s first DIY project came at age 10 when he built a treehouse, complete with an (ill-advised) homemade zipline exit, in the woods behind his best friend’s house.

When he’s not working as a civil engineer, Ray Flynn spends his time dreaming up new DIY projects that promote green living. Visit his site at

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