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15 Money Saving BBQ Tips for a Frugal Summer Barbecue

These 15 money saving BBQ tips will trim the fat on your grocery bill but still make sure that your gatherings are something for your guests to remember.

It is finally that time of the year again.  Memorial day, the Fourth of July, and Father’s day are just around the corner.

This means that the summer grilling season is in full force. To me, summer is just not summer without barbecue recipes, but they can add a lot to your food bill if you are not careful.  

Collage with food on a grill and the words 15 Money Saving BBQ tips

These money saving BBQ tips for a summer barbecue will trim the fat

There are some expenses that you really can’t do much about as far as costs go. Feeding a large group of people adds up when it comes to all the condiments and extras that are needed.

But there are still so many things that you can do to cut down the costs without sacrificing the flavor or the fun.

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for some help from guests

I rarely throw a big barbecue without someone offering to bring a side dish, or to ask what I need. Let your guests contribute.

I try to concentrate on those things that I know I can manage easily for the few days running up to the gathering.

Then when guests ask, I tell them what will either take too much space in my fridge and too much of my prep time.

It is easier for one guest to bring a single item than for me to do it all.  It saves both money and time and I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about it.

Man and woman with food at a BBQ party.2.  Skip the expensive meats and save money on barbeques

Chicken legs are much cheaper than boneless breasts and also juicier on the barbecue than white meat which tends to dry out.

A great home made marinade will tenderize the less expensive cuts of beef. Save the shrimp for dinner parties and use cheaper cuts of fish.

There are so many ways that you can save on meat,  and since meat is your biggest expense,  it pays to economize here to save the most amount of cash.

skip expensive cuts of meat to save money on a bbq 3. Have guests bring their own booze

 I always have some extra beer and wine on hand for the party,  but none of my friends expect me to foot the alcohol bill for a large party.

Just add BYOB to the invite.  Doing this saves a tremendous amount of money on the party bill.

party invite 4.  Make vegetables the king

Veggies are so much cheaper this time of the year than during the colder months.

Tossing them in some inexpensive salad dressing and adding them to a grill mat to cook will tempt even the most ardent of meat eaters.

And if guests fill up on vegetables, they won’t be filling up on the more expensive meat options.  That is a big win for your pocket book.

15 Money Saving tips for a great BBQ - 5. Make your own spice rubs for frugal BBQ savings

Nothing makes a steak or a burger better than a great rub. But if you buy these in the store, you will pay up to $7 or $8 for small bottle.

Use one of my special spice rubs and you can make cups of it from spices that you already have on hand for a fraction of that cost.

As an added bonus, we all know that dried spices go stale in time, so it’s good to use them up in this way!

6. Fill out the menu with inexpensive side dishes

If you have lots of other inexpensive side dishes and munchies, you will be able to get by on less meat and no one will even be looking for seconds.

And this is what most of the guests will be bringing if you follow tip #1, so it’s a win win. Cheaper for them to bring, and it saves you on the more expensive meat purchases too.

Try some of these:

7. Don’t forget to turn off the grill to save money

This one is easy to forget but adds to the cost.

Just remember to turn off the grill when the cooking is done so that you won’t be using extra gas with it just sitting there and not cooking.

turn off the grill when you are done cooking 8. Why pay for ice?

Sure, you can buy it at the local store, but if you plan ahead and freeze your own ice from your ice maker in plastic bags, you will have all you need on BBQ day.

Just store it in an upright freezer for the week ahead and bring it out when you fill up the coolers.

You’ll save a few dollars on each bag of ice and that adds up with a big party.

save money by making your own ice 9. Think ahead and buy on sale

So many things that you use for a BBQ often go on sale.  Some of them really don’t go off, so buying them when they are on sale makes sense.

Charcoal is one of those things.  If you are really a planner, you can even buy it at the end of the season for next year.  (sort of like Christmas decorations the day after Christmas)

And don’t forget to make use of BJs, Sam’s Club and Costco if you have a membership there.  This is one of those times that those huge bottles of relish, ketchup and mustard won’t go to waste!

buy meat on sale 10.  Money saving BBQ tips – Ditch the paper plates

No one wants a big clean up after a party and paper plates are disposable but a very inexpensive way to go is plastic plates that can be reused at another time.

Yes, you will have to wash them but it will save on your bill for the party. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather eat from one of the plastic plates than a floppy paper one anyway.

11. Practice makes perfect 

No matter how frugal you are, if you burn the meat when you are cooking it, you will spend more than you need to.

Practice on family until you have it right before hand instead of trying it out for the first time on your guests.

burned food 12. Don’t waste the fuel – and save money

The grill only needs to be on high for the beginning of the cooking, and the charcoal does not need to be piled a mile high for it to work.

Use only what you need to save money.

13. Be a frugal coupon clipper and buy on sale

All this takes is a bit of planning ahead and you will save a lot of money on your BBQ grocery bill.

I rarely pay full price for meat even when I am not having a party.  Each week when I shop, I buy extra of what is on sale and put it in the freezer.

All meat will keep well for several months. The one thing I don’t buy ahead of time and freeze are hamburger and hot dog buns.

Even though you CAN freeze them, they really don’t keep fresh for long in a freezer. Instead I buy them from my local BJS a few days before the party in large containers.

It’s still cheaper than a local grocery store and fresh. Nothing is worse than a stale hamburger bun, in my opinion!

Plan ahead and use coupons to save money 14. Bone in cuts are best for saving money on meat

Not only are they usually cheaper to purchase, but for barbecues, they also rock.

Meat cooked on the grill that has a bone still in it always ends up so much more tender.

bone in meat is less expensive and more tender 15. Take care of your grill

Barbecue grills can be very expensive.  But if you take the time to maintain your grill it will last so much longer and that means money saving.

Would you cook on your stove and never clean it?  Then why would you do that with your outdoor grill?

Clean the grill grates and get the gunk off that drips down in it.  A little bit of time spent on this task will be a big money saver in the long run.maintain your grill to save money Looking for some BBQ tips to make this the best summer gathering ever? See my 25 top grilling tips.

Pin these frugal BBQ tips for later

Would you like a reminder o these money saving BBQ tips?  Just pin this image to one of your barbecue boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

Scene of meats and vegetables that have been grilled and text reading 15 Money Saving BBQ tips.

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Judy Berggren

Saturday 9th of May 2015

I really enjoy all that you have to offer!


Sunday 10th of May 2015

Thanks Judy. Glad you are enjoying the article! Carol

Carol Speake

Thursday 7th of May 2015

Thanks for the great tips!


Thursday 7th of May 2015

You're welcome. Carol

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