To me, Summer means long days, warm nights, bare feet, and barbecues. It’s one of my favorite seasons, and though it gets quite hot here in Florida, there nothing better than a day at the beach, charbroiled hamburgers, and a glass of ice cold sweet tea sipped slowly between the pages of a good book.

Although our days of cooking out are often left to the cooler months in the South, Northerners are just getting the party started at local parks, backyards, church parking lots, and family reunions.

But a big barbecue can also be a financial burden, especially if you have a large guest list, need to rent a pavilion, and your shopping list is about a mile long with expensive meats, rolls, and elaborate Summery desserts. The planning that goes into such an event takes a lot of work, and sticking to a budget doesn’t seem so doable anymore once you’re knee deep in deciding what kind of hot dogs or paper plates to buy.

Thankfully, there are 6 ways you can significantly save on your next backyard barbecue, and all of them will help you come in way under budget. Each budget friendly BBQ tip can be used whether you are planning a huge party or a simple and small get-together with close friends and family!

A grocery list written on a note pad.

1. Let Your Friends Bring the Food

I used to pride myself on providing absolutely everything as a hostess. Then I realized I was focusing less on people, and more on preparation. And because I was buying all the food, I wasn’t being very kind to my budget either!

Since then, I’ve learned there is no shame in allowing guests to pitch in. Now I prepare a menu with guests in mind, and either highlight or circle each of the items I’m able to delegate. Anytime someone asks me what they can bring, I just give them one of the options on my list. Usually, it’s hamburger buns and hot dog rolls, salad fixings, chips, fruit, or dessert. Even simple foods can be huge help!

If you’re not sure exactly what to include on a barbecue-themed menu, or need a reminder of all the essential items you should have on hand before the big day, this free Summer BBQ Checklist will definitely get you started on the right track.

A summer BBQ invitation.

2. Make Your Own Invites and Decorations

With Pinterest, it’s super easy nowadays to gather party inspiration and DIY ideas that don’t break the bank. Start a Summer BBQ board, and pin anything you can find that strikes your fancy. There’s usually a simple tutorial involved that you can easily replicate, and Ruth has a ton of ideas in her Party DIY section of her blog.

For invites, simple card stock, stickers, and stamps can work wonders, and the handmade touch makes it really personal. I can usually whip out 25 in an hour, and they always receive raving compliments.

If you find out you don’t have a particular supply item to make an invitation or a DIY project, think about what you can use around your home without buying new. Now is the time to get creatively crafty and make do with what you have!

Several different coupons cut up and ready to be used.

3. Look for Grocery Store Deals

During the Summer, grocery stores run a ton of sales that include everything from hamburgers and hot dogs, to chips, soda, and marshmallows. Combine these sale prices with coupons from the Sunday paper, and you can score items for quite a bit cheaper, and sometimes free!

I like to stock up on these rock bottom prices for the entire year, so I have enough to last me until the beginning of next Summer or Memorial Day, when everything goes on sale yet again. By Labor Day, sales are phasing their way out for the Fall and Winter baking season, so grab what you can while the prices are right.

Packaged chicken with a coupon sticker on it.

4. Save on Meat

What’s a barbecue without meat? This essential item can take up your entire budget depending on the type of meats you buy, but there are a few ways to cut down on the costs while still pleasing all the meat lovers on your list. 

I’ve found that ground beef from Save-A-Lot and Aldi discount stores taste just as good for a fraction of the price, and if you’re short on time, frozen patties from the grocery cooler work great in a pinch. For any sort of kabob, just slip a few veggies in between the meat to stretch it even further. Your guests won’t even notice!

If you need even more meat-saving ideas, read 7 Easy Ways to Save on Meat before you plan your next barbecue!

Different seasonings on a kitchen counter top.

5. Create Your Own Seasonings

While pre-packaged seasonings can cost anywhere from $4-$6 for a tiny bottle, you probably have most of the same ingredients at home that you can just throw together for pennies a cup.

We personally love making our own Jamaican Jerk Seasoning for pork and ribs, and a simple salt, pepper, and garlic powder blend sprinkled on the burgers just before they come off the grill is one of our favorite ways to enjoy ground beef.

It can be really fun to experiment with all sorts of flavors and blends…I’ve seen anything from taco seasoning to various chicken rubs, and the best thing is you can always try something different each time you bring out the grill. It’s a great way to add some variety to your barbecue, without spending anything!

Meat on the grill outside.

6. Learn How to Grill Properly

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’ll want to figure out how to use the grill before you invite a ton of people over for a barbecue. Despite the easy “fire-up-the-grill-and-throw-on-the-meat-til-it’s-done” mentality, it’s a bit more complicated than that if you want some exceptional burgers and hot dogs, without wasting your time, food, and money.

Here are some of my best tips {with help from the husband!}:

  • Wait at least 20 minutes after lighting the grill before you put any meat onto it. Otherwise, your burgers will taste just like lighter fluid, and they won’t be very edible. After the 20 minutes are up, you don’t need to reapply any more fluid.
  • One sheet of aluminum foil on the grill will protect the metal from touching your meat and keep food clean.
  • A grilling thermometer can be a small investment that makes sure your meat is perfectly cooked. Undercooked meat results in sick guests, and overcooked meat just tastes bad.
  • Lastly, don’t leave your food unattended, particularly if you are using a public grill or have lots of critters in your backyard. We had a bird one who swooped in an stole an entire package of chips!

Are you excited to plan a backyard barbecue now that you’re armed with these cost-effective tips? I’m seriously itching to write up a guest list and start grilling stat.

We only have a few short months to enjoy Summer, so it’s time to impress your guest with a warm welcome and your ability to throw a fabulous barbecue on a budget, not your money. You can always save the extra cash for Christmas!

Budget Friendly BBQ | Money-Saving Ideas for a Summer Barbecue | Budget Friendly BBQ Dishes | Summer BBQ On a Budget

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What’s your favorite way to save on a backyard barbecue?

Kalyn Brooke
Kalyn Brooke is a life management expert for busy women who crave a simpler and more organized life. Through her recognizable, down-to-earth approach, she provides a daily dose of inspiration and guidance, whether you’re looking for smart money tips, time saving routines, or anything in-between. When she’s not experimenting with ways to do even the most mundane tasks more efficiently, you can find her crafting detailed to-do lists in her bullet journal, or indulging in—yet another—personal development book. Meet Kalyn and learn how stay on top of it all at
Kalyn Brooke


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