Log In
Sign Up

How To Throw A Great Summer BBQ On A Budget

Michelle Summerfield

Jun 29, 2020 4 min read

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin
A photo of people cooking corn and meat outside, drinking wine, and having a great time.

The summer BBQ? It’s a tradition- and with proper safety measures, it's a great way to safely spend time with small groups of friends and family outdoors. But when you’re organizing, it can sometimes be tough to throw a 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 up to 10 people on $100 or less but still have flavourful healthy choices. Consider using the Flipp app to snag all the best deals on your BBQ must-haves. Keep in mind that groceries vary in price depending on where you live and where you decide to shop.

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 by 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

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 for 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 your 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.

The Bottom Line

There you have it! You can throw a fantastic summer BBQ for your friends and family without all the money worries. Budgeting is a big part of financial health, luckily there are options to spend time with friends and family that won't break the bank.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on July 17th, 2019 and has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness by the Borrowell Team.

Michelle Summerfield
Michelle Summerfield
External Link
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin

Michelle Summerfield is a writer and speaker who shares insights on finances, travel, and minimalism. Her work has been featured in Toronto Life, Globe and Mail, Credit Canada and on the CBC.