When you plan a BBQ or any other kind of backyard Summer party, if you’re trying to stay on a budget there are some specific things you can do. The ideas here will help you have a fantastic time without feeling cheap or frazzled.
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How to Plan a BBQ on a Budget
Start organizing all the details for your party ahead of time and keep your notes in one place. A notepad or piece of paper will work just fine. Be sure to plan your budget and track all your spending, too.
Keep it Simple
This is probably the most important thing to do for your party. When you’re organizing your summer party, remember to keep things simple. If you do, you’ll end up spending less because you can do more of it yourself.
When you overcomplicate things, you start running out of time and wearing yourself out so you start looking for conveniences, which cost way more money.
And, as a bonus — people will be more relaxed when they know you haven’t worked yourself to the bone putting this backyard party together.
Pick a Party Theme
The first thing to do is to pick a theme. Sometimes it can be as simple as just picking colors or deciding whether it’s fancy or casual. Here are some frugal party theme ideas:
- In the Garden
- Beach Party
- Pool Party
- Lemonade Stand
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Find Frugal Party Decorations
Keep your decorating very simple. People really just want to see that you’ve made some sort of effort to make your Bar-B-Que look festive. You can get simple decorations on Amazon or at the Dollar Store. Here are some simple ideas for decorating your party.
- Plastic Table Covers – these can be used on tables, as backdrops, to tie into big bows, lots of different things.
- Large PomPoms
- Seasonal Decor
- Mason Jars with Ribbon
Here you can find complete themed sets for under $20
Borrow, Borrow, Borrow
You just might not have all the equipment you need for your summer party and that’s okay. Odds are, someone you know will have some of these things. Here are some great things to borrow instead of buying.
- Serving Dishes
- Beverage Dispensers
- Ice Chests
- Slow Cookers
- Chafing Dish Set
Use Inexpensive Party Supplies
Nobody wants to spend the night and day after the party washing all the dishes so disposables are pretty common. I find that Costco is the best place to buy paper plates, plastic silverware, and napkins. Here are some other disposables that you might want to pick up, too.
- Buffet Serving Set
- Disposable Party Platters
- Sectional Serving Trays
- Matching Disposable Party Supplies – Table Cover, Napkins, Plates, Cups
Use a Cheap Party Space
If you’re not able to use your own backyard for your party, find a cheap location instead. Here are some frugal space ideas:
- Friend or Neighbor’s Backyard
- Local Park
- Recreation Center
Budget Party Food Planning
How to Stretch Your BBQ Food Budget
Meat is going to be your biggest expense when it comes to your outdoor BBQ. That’s why you want to be thoughtful about how you go about choosing your menu plan. There are some frugal ways to stretch your meat in order to keep things on a budget.
- Make Skewers with Your Chicken or Beef
- Serve Hot Dogs to the Kids
- Serve Meats on a Bun – pulled pork, burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches
- Pick smaller buns – a bigger bun requires more meat
- Add extenders to your ground beef patties – oats, beans, rice, breadcrumbs, veggies, etc. will all help you make more patties out of that pound of hamburger
Frugal Backyard BBQ Meal Plan Ideas
Here are some simple outdoor party menus that will help you stick to your budget.
- Chicken Legs, Macaroni Salad, Baked Beans
- Hamburgers, Potato Salad, Chips
- Hot Dogs, Coleslaw, Chips, Watermelon
- Sandwich Bar, Pasta Salad, Pickles, Chips
- Hawaiian Chicken & Pineapple Skewers, Rice, Macaroni Salad
- Taco Bar, Salsa Bar, Chips, Beans, Rice
- DIY Grilled Pizzas, Salad
- Pulled Pork Sliders, Coleslaw, Corn on the Cob
Buy Your BBQ or Party Food on Sale
During the summer, most of the food you will need for your party will be going on sale. If you’ve planned ahead, you’ll be able to pick up what you need and stash it to use for your party. These are some things that go on sale around Memorial Day, 4th of July, and during other weeks of the summer.
- Pork – Ribs, Boston Butt, Hot Dogs
- Chicken – Drumsticks, Grill Packs, Chicken Breast
- Beef – Ground Beef, Steaks
- Condiments – Mustard, Ketchup, Mayo
- Fruit – Watermelon, Berries
- Veggies – Lots of seasonal veggies
- Beverages – Soda, Lemonade
- Buns – Hot Dog, Hamburger
Make Food Yourself
You might be tempted to have some of your food catered, but don’t do it. You will end up blowing your budget in a heartbeat.
If you make your own beverages, desserts, and side dishes instead of buying them already prepared, you’ll save a lot of money. Here are some simple dishes you can make yourself.
- Macaroni Salad
- Potato Salad – Here’s my Dad’s Famous Recipe
- Brown Sugar and Bacon Baked Beans
- Banana Pudding
- Veggie Sticks
- Poke Cake
- Lemonade (Instant)
- Pasta Salad
Let Guests Bring Something
Most people are willing to bring some food to share. You can ask friends to bring some side dishes or even dessert. Just make sure you know ahead of time what specifically they are bringing. You want to make sure all your bases are covered and that you don’t have too much of one thing.
As you can see from all these ideas … your backyard BBQ doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many different ways to have your party on a budget and not seem cheap. And, most importantly … have fun. The fun all your guests have will be remembered long after the memories of decor and food vanishes.