7 Simple Ways To Save on Your Summer BBQ

by Patricia Estero

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Do you like to entertain but feel it just isn’t in your budget right now? Use these tips to throw a summertime BBQ bash for less cash.

Hosting a BBQ may not seem doable with current food prices, especially if you’re on a tight budget. But you can throw a fantastic BBQ on a small budget if you use a little money-saving savvy.

Below are seven ways to save on a summer BBQ that will let you enjoy hosting a warm-weather bash for family and friends without the worry of the cost.

Simple Ways To Save on a Summer BBQ

The easiest way to plan for a budget BBQ is first to determine the menu and then figure out which stores have the best prices on the ingredients you’ll need.

1. Consider your cooking technique.

Match your cooking technique to your food choice and your budget.

Grilling often means that you’re cooking food quickly on direct heat or a flame. Grilling is a faster way to cook and is perfect for things like hamburgers and hotdogs.

Barbeque often means that you are cooking meats slower at low temperatures, using indirect heat. Often, you can buy a budget cut of meat on sale and turn it into a tender delight using slow, indirect cooking.

Whichever method you use, avoid expensive meats and poultry such as steaks or chicken breasts. Consider these picks from Real Simple for the best meats to grill if you’re on a budget.

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2. Dress it up!

Hot dogs don’t have to be just hot dogs. Have some inexpensive fixings on hand, such as canned chili, relish, chopped onions and “spray” cheese for folks to come up with their own dog creations.

Consider marinating sausages in beer before grilling them. Stuffed burgers are impressive and can still be affordable.

Also, consider serving grilled veggie kabobs. Zucchini, grape tomatoes and onions grill well on a skewer.

It wouldn’t take much to give you a pitmaster reputation!

3. Make your own salads.

Sure, you can buy coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans from the deli section of your grocery store. But you can easily make them yourself, and it will save you a lot of money.

Pasta salads can be especially cheap to make. If you don’t want to cook baked beans, grab some cans on sale. It will be cheaper than the deli, and you can add your own ingredients to make them taste more homemade.

4. Check wholesale clubs for buns and chips.

If you are planning to host a larger group, be sure to check your local wholesale club like Sam’s, BJ’s, or Costco for deals on bread, buns and even chips. Often, you can find large quantities of these kinds of BBQ supplies fairly inexpensively.

If you don’t have a warehouse club membership, see if you have a GFS (Gordon Food Service) in your area. It serves a lot of restaurants but is also open to the public, and you can get the same great bulk discounts without having to pay a hefty membership fee.

5. Keep beverage costs in check.

It is typically cheaper to buy 2-liter sodas and have plenty of plastic cups and ice on hand than it is to buy cans of soda. Have pitchers of tea, lemonade and water or make a tasty but cheap punch.

If you want to serve a few adult beverage choices, go with a homemade spiked punch or get a few boxes of cheap wine and 2-liter flavored seltzer waters and make wine spritzers.

Let people know what drinks you are serving and invite them to BYOB if they want something else to drink.

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6. Serve seasonal desserts.

Are peaches in season? Then it might be time for a peach cobbler. Are watermelons readily available and cheap? Sounds like a good dessert choice to me!

Or find someone in your group that has an ice cream churn. There’s a good chance they’ll be willing to whip up a batch of homemade ice cream!

7. Buy dollar store supplies.

So dollar stores aren’t really dollar stores these days, but they are still a very cheap source for paper goods, such as plates, napkins, cups and utensils. Sometimes you can also find great deals on these at wholesale clubs.

And keep it informal. There’s nothing wrong with using paper towels as napkins when you’re slathered in BBQ sauce!

Bonus Tip: Don’t hesitate to make it a potluck.

One of the best ways to cut down on the costs of throwing a get-together is to make it a potluck party. Not only do you spend less because you aren’t preparing all the food for everyone attending, but you also get the opportunity to sample dishes from other kitchens!

Depending on how many attendees you have, you should ask for volunteers to bring desserts, snacks, sides, salads and even ice or drinks. This can cut down considerably on what you spend at the party as well as your preparation time.

Remember that a lot of your friends and family are also trying to get by on a tighter budget these days. You’re giving them a fun afternoon or evening for the small cost of a side dish.

You don’t have to break the bank to host a great summer get-together. Just use a few of these tips, and your summer BBQ can be a success without costing a fortune.

Reviewed June 2023

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