How to throw a great summer BBQ on a budget
How to throw a great summer BBQ on a budget
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How to throw a great summer BBQ on a budget

The summer BBQ is a tradition pretty much everyone loves. It's an opportunity to get together with loved ones, eat good food, and spend a little time basking in the joys of mother nature.


When there’s a crowd, though, it's hard to throw a BBQ affordably. Feeding a lot of people always costs money, and making sure you're stocked on the basic condiments and drinks really adds up.


That said, having done the math and researched some basic savings tips, we can say with confidence: the $100 summer BBQ is possible!


For a group of 10-12 people, even if you don't have the usual burger condiments already in the fridge to turn to, you can still get away with staying under $100.


13 tips for extra summer BBQ savings

For even more inspiration to get those savings up, here are some additional BBQ ideas that may cost less. You might also look for extra ways to save at the grocery store.


1. Don't splurge on fancy meats


People are almost always happy with a hamburger or hot dog at a BBQ, you don't have to bother with steak or salmon. You can stick with one protein for extra savings and to make it easier to manage with fewer toppings. You can also opt for kabobs to save on the cost of buns and condiments.


2. Use cheaper veggies and sides to supplement the food


You can probably get away with buying less meat by offering ample other options for munching. If people snack on chips and dips while the meat's cooking, they won't care if there's not enough for seconds. As an added option, veggies marinated in cheap Italian dressing and cooked on a grill are delicious.


3. Speaking of those sides, make them homemade


Making salsa, bean dip, or potato salad at home is cheaper than buying them at the store. Here are a few side dish BBQ recipes for you:


4. Ask guests to contribute


Put your guests in charge of some of the food and drinks, or just the sides, and you'll only need to focus on the basics. If you end up with more food than you need, you at least have leftovers so you can save money on meals through the next week.


5. Turn off the grill as soon as the food's done


Keep tabs on your usage and cook everything all at once while it's hot. You'll save on gas if you are using propane. One pile of charcoal should be able to give you a single shot at starting the fire and cooking everything.


6. Do your shopping at bulk stores, if you have a membership


When you're feeding a group, those bulk savings can really make a difference. Also, if you are frequent grillers, but enough for several barbecues at once and freeze what you'll need for next time.


7. Don't bother with paper plates and plastic utensils


Yes, they're a bit easier, but they're also an unnecessary cost when you are trying to keep your budget under control. Those plates and cups in your cupboards are already paid for and can be used all summer.


8. Check your pantry staples before you shop


You might have things you can turn into snacks, sides, and condiments that will save you on your trip to the grocery store. Why buy ketchup if there's already a bottle in the cabinet.


9. Stick to the cheap drinks


Most people aren't expecting fancy wine or craft beers at a BBQ. A $7 bottle of wine will probably go over just as well as a $20 one. You could even make sangria or punch to help the alcohol you buy go further.


10. Create your own seasonings and sauces


The only benefit to the expensive ones at the store is that they're easier. Your homemade seasonings and sauces will probably be better. Again, check your cabinet – the jar of seasoning you use for summer barbeques may have gotten pushed back since it was last used.


11. Use zip-close bags to stock up on the ice from your fridge


A bag of ice from the store might not be that expensive, but the stuff your fridge makes is even cheaper. Start stocking up a day or two in advance so you don't have to worry about running out.


12. Figure out your menu based on what's on sale


There are grocery apps that help you figure out which items are discounted before you head to the grocery store.


13. Hang on to complimentary condiments


You know the ones, the little ketchup and mustard packets widely available at lots of restaurants. If you already have plenty of those, you can skip buying condiments at the store.


The $100 summer BBQ

The premise: Throw a barbecue party for $10 or less per person, with at least two meat options and drinks included. In this scenario, sides are provided by your guests.

Keep in mind that some of these prices may vary depending on where you do your shopping or the brands you go for, but the amounts should be pretty close to what you'd find. Based on these prices, you may need to watch for sale prices and plan ahead to save the most money.


  • Hamburger meat for 12 burgers: $22

  • 2 packs of hamburger buns (16 buns total): $4

  • 24 cheese slices: $8

  • 8 hot dogs: $4.25

  • 8 hot dog buns: $4

  • A bag of tortilla chips: $4

  • Mustard: $2.50

  • Mayo: $3

  • Ketchup: $4

  • Homemade salsa: $2

  • Meat seasoning: $2.50

  • Homemade BBQ sauce: $2.50

  • Bag of charcoal: $10

  • Aluminum foil: $5

  • 24-pack of soda: $12

  • 12-pack of beer: around $13

  • A bottle of wine: around $10

The total for these items comes to about $112.75. If you've already got condiments in your fridge, are happy to go for a cheaper bottle of wine or are willing to make a couple more items on the list homemade (like the chips or ketchup), your savings go up.


Everyone's favorite BBQ recipes and sides are going to be a little different, so mix and match based on your preferences and see if you can manage to still keep it below the $100 mark.


Now you don't have any excuses. Throw an awesome summer BBQ for your family without fear of blowing your budget in the process.


Tags: Budgeting, My finances, Spending

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