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7 Ways to Barbecue on a Budget

7 Ways to Barbecue on a Budget

By Matt Diehl • July 18, 2017

Barbecuing is a popular pastime in the United States. In fact, 75% of U.S. adults own a grill or smoker.1

One of the reasons people like to cook out is to entertain family and friends.2 However, if you barbecue often or for a large group, the total cost can add up quickly.

Here are seven ways to barbecue on a budget:

1. Create a checklist

When shopping for food or party supplies, a checklist can be your personal assistant. From paper plates to your spouse’s favorite BBQ sauce, it’s helpful to have everything on hand when you need it.

If you prefer a digital inventory over pen and paper, check out this free online BBQ checklist.

2. Search for sales

Sales and coupons can offer value to any barbecuer. In addition to newspapers and weekly mailers, there are many places to find discounts on the internet.

Here are three websites that offer free, printable coupons:

3. Make your own side dishes

If you have the time and know-how, making your own sides could be cheaper than buying them at the store. Some side dishes only require a few ingredients and it might be fun to try new recipes that complement your main dish.

Search these sources for low-cost side dish recipes:

4. Plan a potluck

If you’re hosting a large party, planning a potluck could save you time and money. Talk to close friends and family to see if they could contribute food, beverages or even recreational equipment like yard games or inflatables. To help keep track of the details, try using an online potluck organizer.

5. Try not to waste fuel

Whether you cook with charcoal or gas, there are ways to cut down on your fuel usage. When cooking with charcoal, you most likely don’t need to use the entire 10-pound bag. Three pounds should cook enough food for four to six people.2 If you use a gas grill, you might only need to keep the burners on high for the first five minutes after the food is added.3 Once the last piece of food is cooked, remember to turn off the grill and propane tank.

6. Go light on the decor

Although the right decor can add ambiance to an outdoor BBQ, it may be not be a primary requirement. For some people, a fun barbecue is all about great company and delicious food. If you want to add a little flair to the occasion, string up some Christmas lights or use old decor from previous parties.

7. Serve low-cost desserts

After a plate full of hot, salty food, your guests might be ready for something cold and sweet. Luckily there’s a wide variety of budget-friendly desserts that should satisfy any sweet tooth.

Here are a few recipes for low-cost desserts:

Trim the fat off your BBQ budget

Similar to a perfectly cooked steak, barbecuing on a budget is possible with prep work and careful execution. By keeping a close eye on your spending, you could serve up a good time for a low price.

1. HPBA. “May is National Barbecue Month: Discover Your Barbecue IQ and 10 Trends About Barbecuing Today.” Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. (accessed July 12, 2017).
2. Gauchat, Sara. “10 Money-Saving Ideas for a Summer Barbecue.” (accessed July 13, 2017).
3. Gauchat, Sara. “10 Money-Saving Ideas for a Summer Barbecue.”

The information in this article is provided for general education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. It is not intended to be and does not constitute financial, legal or any other advice specific to you the user or anyone else. The companies and individuals (other than OneMain Financial’s sponsored partners) referred to in this message are not sponsors of, do not endorse, and are not otherwise affiliated with OneMain Financial.