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How To Throw A Great Summer BBQ On A Budget

Michelle Summerfield Jul 17, 2019

The summer BBQ? It’s a tradition. Enjoying the gorgeous Canadian summer and spending time outside with friends, family, and great food - what’s not to love? But when you’re the one feeding the crowd, it can be tough to throw a backyard BBQ on a budget.

If this summer tradition has you worried about how you’ll host friends and family, here’s how to do it for $100 or less! With lots of summer left to enjoy, here's your helpful guide from Borrowell to throw a great BBQ on the cheap.

How to throw a great summer BBQ on the cheap

The idea: Host a summer BBQ for 10-12 people on $100 or less but still have flavourful healthy choices. The fine print: Groceries vary in price depending on where you live and where you decide to shop, but most of the prices we’ve researched using Flipp and should be accurate. The prep: Consider using the Flipp app to snag all the best deals on your BBQ must-haves.

Pre BBQ snacks

Want an inexpensive and healthy pre-party snack? Opting for homemade popcorn over expensive bagged chips works out to 9 cents a serving! Yep, 9 cents. So for ten people, it’ll cost you less than a dollar. For more flavour, raid the pantry for black pepper and sea salt, or go the old fashioned route and melt a bit of butter for that movie theatre style popcorn.

  • Popcorn: 9 cents per serving total 90 cents for 10
  • Hummus: 37 cents per serving total $3.70 for 10
  • Potato Chips: 2 for $5.00

Protein can quickly eat up most of your budget, so consider offering only one or two choices to keep costs low. Tip: one pound of ground beef usually makes four burgers.

  • 3 pounds of Hamburger meat: $15
  • 12 Hot Dogs: $2.99
  • 3 pounds of Boneless, skinless chicken thighs: $18
Buns & Condiments

A simple way to dress things up a little is offering a few gourmet topping choices. Gourmet doesn’t have to equal expensive; it’s as simple as adding Sriracha to mayonnaise. Get creative with sauces and dips to add flavour for less.

  • 2 packs of Hamburger buns: $5
  • 8 Hot Dog buns: $2.50
  • Cheese: $3.99 (12 slices)
  • Mustard: $1.99
  • Ketchup: $3.47
  • Mayo: $3.98
  • BBQ Sauce $2.50

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Simple sides under $10
  • Picnic Potato Salad for 12: $10
  • Grilled Corn for 12: $6
  • Cole Slaw for 12: $6
  • Pasta Salad for 12: $8
  • Three-Bean Salad for 12: $5.00
  • Soda: $6.99 for 24
  • Beer: $15-30 depending on case size
  • Bottle of wine: $8-12
Cooking accessories
  • Propane: $10 for 20lb tank
  • Charcoal: $8.99/bag
  • Aluminum foil: $1.00
Simple desserts
  • Rice Krispie Squares: $6 (GF option $8)
  • S’mores Macarons for 20: $6
  • Seasonal fruit and yogurt: $6
  • Jello: $4
  • Ice cream cones or ice cream bar with candies and toppings from bulk food store: $8
  • Popsicles: $2.88

And the grand total comes to $99.50! Our total is based on two snacks, two meat choices, two sides, and two desserts plus condiments. If you’ve already got sauces and dips in the fridge, your cost will be even less. Added bonus: if there are leftovers, you’ve got meals for a few days.

7 Tips to Boost Your Summer BBQ Savings

1. Use inexpensive cuts of meat.

There’s no need to splurge on shrimp, salmon, scallops, or finer cuts of beef. Choose lower cost meats like flavourful chicken thighs and wings, ground beef, hot dogs or sausages.

2. Vegetarian friends? Go meatless.

Protein is the most expensive part of any BBQ. Try a portobello burger instead of buying costly pre-made veggie burgers, or opt for simple, low-cost veggie kebabs.

3. Get creative with sauces and seasonings.

Sauces and seasonings are an easy, low-cost way to elevate your meal and keep things flavourful. Tzatziki is perfect for dipping raw veggies into, and a quick Chimichurri sauce can spice up your burgers.

4. Go easy on the booze or BYOB it.

Alcohol can quickly add up, especially if you’re offering more than one choice to your guests. A simple solution is to BYOB and ask guests to bring their own favourite drink choice.

5. Ask friends and family to contribute a dish.

Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to contribute a side dish or dessert. Everyone loves helping out, and it’s an excellent way for the entire crowd to try something new while keeping your BBQ budget low.

6. Make it BYOC and skip the decorations.

Worried that you don’t have enough patio furniture? Don’t spend money renting; ask your friends to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

7. Make it homemade wherever you can.

It’s true; you pay for convenience. Avoid anything packaged where you can and make it homemade to save.

There you have it! Now you don’t have to feel guilty about never hosting a BBQ and you certainly don't need to stress. You can throw a fantastic summer BBQ for your friends and family without all the money worries.

Another way to alleviate stress this summer? Monitoring your credit score! Check your credit score for free with Borrowell today.

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