vegetable skewers and sausage on the grill

Summer is nearly here, which means sunshine, vacations, and fun for the whole family. But it also means parties! There will be get-togethers aplenty and you’re bound to host at least one of them. So how can you throw a hot summer barbecue without breaking the bank? We’ve got 7 ideas to keep your summer BBQ budget low when the temperatures are high. 

Set a BBQ budget

It sounds silly, but the best way to save money on your party bill is to set and follow a budget! Make a list of food, beverage, entertainment, and miscellaneous items you’ll need to pull off the BBQ and determine which items are must-haves. From there, research prices and availability. Then, pepper in your nice-to-haves as you can.

BBQ at the right time

When choosing a date for your barbecue, you’ll want to avoid hosting it on a holiday weekend. Though stores may market deals and discounts for holiday gatherings, they’re not as great as they may seem…and there’s a chance you’ll have slim pickins. Instead, choose a weekday evening or a weekend with no special events or holidays to help cut costs.

summer BBQ budget items - hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill
Photo by Pam Menegakis

Keep the menu simple 

Unless you plan to host a small, fancy dinner party, barbecues are designed to include those less expensive staples. Instead of steaks and seafood, opt for hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, and sausage. Make it a group effort and ask guests to bring a dish to share. Choose sides and desserts with simple ingredients. And never be afraid to opt for store-brand products…especially on basic items like buns, rolls, condiments, plates, cutlery, and serve ware. 

plate with seasonal vegetables for a summer BBQ on a budget
Photo by Anna Pelzer

Use seasonal produce

Whether you’re looking for ingredients to dress your burgers with, picking out a recipe for a delicious salad, or cutting up veggies for crudités, seasonal produce is the best choice. Because these items are more abundant, prices will likely be lower. You’ll also be able to find seasonal items in more grocery stores and at farmer’s markets, so you’re not traveling around the city trying to find all of your needed ingredients. Check out this website to see a state-specific guide to in-season produce.  

Get the best deals 

Couponing is truly an art these days. But you can save quite a bit on your summer BBQ budget by spending some time searching for deals. Look for items on your supermarket’s mobile app. Pick up a weekend newspaper and check the circulars. Head to the store’s website to prepare your list and determine if there are any online-only specials.   

Buy in bulk

There’s a reason why wholesale membership stores are growing: buying bulk saves. When you buy more of an item at one time, it’s likely that your price per serving will be less than buying a single product. This is a great way to stock meats, drinks, fresh produce, dairy, snacks, and sides.

leftover summer BBQ food packed into containers
Photo by Ella Olsson

Plan for leftovers

No matter how well you calculate your quantities, there will always be leftovers. What you do with them is key. A budget-friendly leftover strategy will help you stretch those dollars into other meals, effectively reducing your total grocery budget. Replenish items as needed instead of putting everything out at once. Keep items refrigerated as best you can. Prepare items that can be frozen. Then, when the time comes, you’ve got leftover items to serve with or as another family meal. 


Hosting a budget-friendly summer barbecue is not only possible, it can also be lots of fun and a great way to spend time with family and friends. By making a plan, shopping smart, and following these tips, you can create a memorable outdoor gathering that won’t burn through your cash. With some creativity and effort, your guests will be wondering how you managed to host such an amazing barbecue without spending a fortune. So fire up that grill, grab your favorite summer recipes, and get ready for a fantastic and budget-friendly summer barbecue!

Kadi McDonald is a freelance writer, marketing strategist, and a proud Cleveland sports fan, and says hello to every animal she comes across.