How to Save Money When Hosting a Barbecue

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This is a post by MPFJ staff writer, Jeff. Jeff writes about Sustainable living and finances at his website, Sustainable Life Blog.

Now that summer is unofficially here with the arrival of Memorial Day, it’s time to break out the bbq grill and get ready to enjoy it.

Summers are always a great time to catch up with friends, relax, and spend some time enjoying the nice weather. My wife and I are going to one wedding that’s relatively close, as well as a week trip to Alaska, but other than that, we will be sticking close to town and having/attending bbq’s with family and friends!

Hosting a lot of BBQ’s can get expensive quick, so we’ve thought of a few ways to keep our costs down:

  1. Don’t go overboard. Every time we have people over for a big bbq, we always talk about what a great time it was and how much fun we had. In addition to all that, we plan how much we spent and realize that we can do about 1 good bbq per summer without totally wrecking our progress on our other goals.
  2. Get help. Typically when we have a big BBQ, everyone asks what they should bring. Don’t feel like you need to provide everything yourself – you’ll just end up cooking the whole time instead of spending it with the people you invited. Have guests bring dessert and salads, and you provide the main course and the drinks. This is a great way to save money and get people invested in coming!
  3. DIY – Lots of great BBQ foods can be easily made at home for a fraction of the cost. You can make your own bbq sauce, your own coleslaw, and baked beans. The list goes on and on, and they will typically taste better than what you buy at the store.
  4. Change your meat options. Lots of the money we spent at our last bbq was because of the burgers we chose to make. They involved 3 different types of meat, and ended up being the most expensive part of our meal (If you’re interested, I believe it was the first one on this list). They were very, very good, but the next time we had a bbq, we switched to chicken for the main meat, with a bit of hot dogs and a few burgers for those that did not want chicken. Changing meats saved us a ton of money.
  5. Go easy on the fuel. Lots of people add too much charcoal to the grill when cooking, and end up leaving quite a bit of semi burned coals on the grill that have to be extinguished, and cant be reused again. You don’t need the whole 10lb bag for just a few people and you can easily get by with about 30-40% of the bag. If you’re using a gas grill, you only need the heat on high initially when cooking, once the outside is seared turn the heat down and it cook on a lower temperature.

Those are some of our favorite tips for grilling during the summer and keeping costs down. 

What are yours?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

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  1. We had a BBQ the other day and had everyone bring something. It made things a little cheaper!
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  2. sustainable living says:

    Having people bring something gets them involved and excited to come as well!

  3. If you're having BBQ party with your friends and family, there is no need to impress them by preparing a lot. Potluck always works well. You can put someone in charge in shouldering the drinks. Or you can have BYOB.

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