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How To Have A Backyard Barbecue On The Cheap


How To Have A Cheap Backyard Barbecue.

We enjoy many summer barbecues this time of year, and although they are fun, they can be quite pricey if we aren’t careful.

Elliott has started to really enjoy cheeseburgers and hot dogs, so we have had to start making more food for him as well (it was so much easier when all he ate was bananas and crackers!). This can be costly, so we have been trying to cut costs on our barbecued meals wherever we can.

Below is a list of ways that you can enjoy summer barbecues without going broke.


If you’re having many friends and family over for a barbecue, it’s not unheard of to ask them to bring over some food as well. You can supply the meat, and then have other people bring things such as salads, drinks, condiments, chips, corn on the cob, etc.

Make sure that everyone knows what they are supposed to bring well in advance, to give people a chance to go to the store and pick up what they may need.

If you are only having one or two people over, suggest that they bring a dessert and maybe a loaf of bread, while you supply everything else.

Buy In Season

When you’re planning your barbecue menu, be sure to only make food that is currently in season. By doing this, you will not only save money, but the food you purchase will likely be fresher than the times when those food items are not in season.

If you do most of your barbecuing in the summer, include things such as blueberries, cantaloupe, peaches, raspberries, watermelon, strawberries, beans, celery and corn.

Salads are also popular during the summer months, and you should always be able to find lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and salad dressing on sale during all of July and August.

Cook From Scratch

There will be an abundance of sales on frozen beef burgers, pre-made salads and pre-made desserts come summertime. Stores know that people will buy these over priced items in the summer because people want them for their barbecue get-togethers.

Sure, they are convenient, but when you compare the price of those items to the cost of making the same items yourself, you will often see that the convenience is just not worth the price.

Roll up your sleeves and spend a bit of time in the kitchen before your barbecue. Your family (and your tummy) will thank you for the delicious, homemade meal.

Making your own burgers is easy and there are many great chicken recipes that can be made on the barbecue as well. Vegetables and potatoes cooked on the barbecue are also very good.

Prepare as much food in advance as possible. Form your burger patties and marinate your chicken the night before. Chop up vegetables the morning of. Do whatever you can in advance so that when it comes time to cooking, all you need to do is throw everything on the grill.

Stock Up On Sale Items

If you read your store sale flyers every week, you will notice that barbecue items (salad dressing, barbecue sauce, hamburger buns, pickles, ketchup, mustard, chips, pop, etc.) start to go on sale at the beginning of June.

Come July, these items are on deep discount until the end of August. Stock up when they are cheap enough for you and hold on to them until you need them again.

If you can only afford to stock up for the summer – do that. However, if you have some extra money to spend on stocking up, I suggest buying enough of those products to get you and your family by until next summer (or as long as you can, according to the expiration dates).

Make Kebobs

A good way to stretch the meat that you have available for your barbecue is to make kebobs for dinner.

Soak some wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes and prepare your food (making sure everything is trimmed properly and is bite-sized).

Then, just thread your ingredients onto the skewers and cook over medium to medium-low heat.

These are a fun dinner alternative to a big fat steak or burger, and are fairly inexpensive to make.

Give each person 1 or 2 kebobs, along with some corn on the cob and perhaps a potato or leafy green salad.

Have Lots Of Carbs

Potatoes, rice and pasta, cooked in large quantities, is much cheaper than cooking meat in large quantities, so fill up your family (and your guests) on carbs and give a smaller portion of meat.

Things such as potato salad, pasta salad and rice dishes are all good choices.

Fill everyone up on veggies as well. Include large green salads with every barbecue meal and try to make a veggie platter of some sort as well, so that people can pick at that while they wait for the main course.

Forget The Paper

Forego the paper plates and plastic cutlery, as those items are such a waste of money.

Instead, serve your meal on reusable plastic dishes and use regular eating utensils. You can even use your regular dinner plates if you want!

Sure, it might be a bit more work for you to wash the dishes when your barbecue is over, but the money you save on throw-away dishes will be worth the small amount of extra work you have to do.

Barbecue Swap

Another great way to save money on your barbecues is to have a swap with friends, family or neighbours.

One night it’s your turn to host the barbecue and then a few nights later it’s someone else’s turn.

Doing this also means you get to avoid cleaning up after dinner some nights!

Barbecues are a fun way to eat your meals and they don’t have to be an expensive event. By organizing your menu and preparing as much as possible in advance, you are sure to have a great time without spending much money.

Remember that although it’s easy to have a barbecue on the cheap, it’s just as easy to have barbecue on the not so cheap, if you’re not careful.

What are some ways that you save money on barbecues?


  1. JB

    (I might get slack for this…but)…

    Hunt your meal. I make a mean deer steak (and it costs me nothing) 🙂

  2. JB

    ps: Same with fish. Catch your own! (they are free) 🙂

  3. TLK

    We’ve actually switched up the potluck idea that you suggested and had everyone bring their own meat. Especially for a large group (12 or more adults), the meat portion of a meal can get pretty pricey. The host made a couple salads, others brought drinks & dessert in addition to their own meat… People brought everything from steak to burgers to pork chops. It was fun, easy and good conversation while you check out what everyone else brought. 🙂

  4. Cassie Howard

    Great ideas, JB and TLK! 🙂

  5. Mesenga

    Great tips! Just bought our first house a month and a half ago so my husband is looking forward to using the BBQ a LOT!

  6. Christine Weadick

    The ideas for the pot-luck work for us for any family get together, not just BBQ’s. I usually get hit to bring the desserts, which is fine by me, and then we get to bring what-ever back home and that is dessert here for a day, if that long!! There are things I make that are family favourites so it makes it easy to say what I’m bringing.

  7. Christa

    keep things simple
    Know your guests eg if you know the majority of guests don’t like fish don’t serve it

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