Personal Finance

3 Top Tips to Save Money When Hosting Your Next BBQ

Everyone loves a summer BBQ, but hosting one can mean you spend a week's grocery budget (or more) on a single meal. Here are some tips to make your next summer BBQ as budget-friendly as it is fun.

Unless you plan well, the cost of a weekend BBQ with friends can quickly get out of control. In fact, we priced up two different BBQs for 10 people (one budget, one more pricey) and the difference between the two was a whopping £148. Our top tips will help you plan a successful, affordable BBQ that doesn't break the bank, so you can enjoy a summer filled with BBQs, friends and family.  

Top 3 Tips to Save Money on a BBQ

Alcohol, meat and prepared foods are the three areas in which you can save the most money when planning a BBQ. Meat and alcohol are usually the biggest budget items for a BBQ, providing plenty of wiggle room to save money. And while making homemade takes a bit of time, your guests will appreciate the effort and you'll save money instead of buying ready food. Here are some easy ways to save the most:

1. Menu Selection: Meat is one of the largest expenses when you host a BBQ. While expensive, this is a shopping category where budget-conscious shoppers can save money as there are many options on the market that are well suited to barbecuing. Type of meat is the easiest way to save. For example, choose burgers over sirloin or make veggie-chicken kebabs instead of serving whole chicken breasts. Even if you often buy organic meat for you and your family, there's no need to buy organic for a large group (after all, when you eat out at a restaurant you're not usually eating organic). In our experience, guests are always happy to eat what is served—they're usually just glad they're not doing the cooking!

2. Guests Bring Drinks: Guests inevitably ask what they can bring. Take them up on their offer and suggest they bring a bottle of Prosecco, a nice wine or a six-pack of their favourite beer. Guests are usually happy to bring alcohol as it's quick and easy for them (no cooking required). This tip can save you loads of money, as alcohol is typically the biggest BBQ expense. And if you're buying the alcohol, you're bound to buy too much in an effort to provide a good selection to your guests.

3. Homemade Sides and Pudding: There are so many potato and pasta salad recipes online, you're sure to find one that suits your tastebuds. And sides based on cheap, filling potatoes or pasta are a great way to economize. You can also serve grilled veggies like courgettes, carrots and onions or make a large salad for little money. For afters, a beautiful cake can be made ahead of time, costs only a few pounds and is a glorious way to end the evening. Plus, guests always appreciate the effort of a homemade cake.

Budget vs. Pricey BBQ

Budget-conscious shoppers can save 75% on BBQ hosting costs, versus those who don't make the effort to save money. When hosting for 10 people, you can save £150 of hard-earned money through careful menu planning. For example, choosing burgers and kebabs over steaks and chicken breasts can save you £50 for 10 people. Asking guests to bring a bottle of something can save you £60 over you purchasing a range of drinks to serve.

Estimated BBQ Cost for 10 peopleBudgetPremium
Meat1/4 lb. Burgers, cheese & buns x 10£12.6Ribeye Steaks x 10£45.0
Chicken & Veg Kebabs x 20 (1.5kg chicken breast, peppers and onions)£13.9Organic Chicken Breasts x 10 (2kg)£34.6
DrinksSparkling water with lemon & mint£3Prosecco x 2 (e.g., Finest Prosecco Valdobbiadene)£20
Beer x 20 (e.g., Becks)£14Red wine x 2 (e.g., Tesco Finest The Trilogy Malbec)£24
Rest of drinks brought by guests£-Beer x 24 (e.g., Peroni)£33
SidesHomemade potato salad, grilled courgettes, green beans£10Ready potato salad, grilled corn on the cob, avocado tomato & mozzarella salad£25
DessertHomemade cake£5Ready premium cake and ice cream (e.g., Tesco Triple Layer Chocolate cake + 3 pints Haagen-Daz)£25
Chart showing the cost of hosting a BBQ for 10 people

As you can see in the chart above, meat and alcohol are the primary areas where you can save money on a BBQ. With all the money you save on food and drinks through careful budgeting, you may even be able to splash on some fresh-cut flowers—a simple cluster for the table is all you need to complete the look.

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the Founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.


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