How to Throw a Cheap BBQ

Use re-usable plates to cut costs.
Use re-usable plates to cut costs. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Hosting a barbecue, whether in your backyard or at a local park, shouldn't have to break the bank. You can throw a cheap barbecue without letting your guests go hungry or skimping on the meat. Some cost-saving measures may lead to more work on your part, but the amount of money you save will make the extra elbow grease worth it. If you don't have the room to host a barbecue in your yard, look for an venue, such as the beach or a local park, that will let you have a picnic for free.

Things You'll Need

  • Chips and other snacks
  • Meat
  • Soda
  • Beer (optional)
  • Plates
  • Cups
  • Napkins
  • Plastic tablecloths
  • Potted plants
  • Tea lights
  • Stereo
  • MP3 player (optional)
  • Horseshoes, tether-ball or other simple lawn games

Plan your food purchases for the barbecue around sales. For example, buy large bags of potato chips or other snacks when they go on sale, not the day before your barbecue. Buy meat in bulk when it's on sale and freeze until the big day. Save on produce by serving fruits that are in season.

Serve soda and drinks from large 2-liter bottles, not cans. If you decide to serve alcohol, stick with beer, since it is usually a lot less expensive than wine and liquor.

Set the table with regular plastic plates and cups, which you'll wash afterwards. You'll save money reusing the plates versus buying new paper ones every time you throw a barbecue. Look for summery plates, cups and napkins and buy them just after the barbecue season ends, so that you'll spend less and be ready for next summer.

Cover the picnic tables with a reusable plastic tablecloth. Wipe the cloth down after the party and let it dry before folding and storing it.

Use potted annuals, such as marigolds, to decorate the party, instead of cut flowers. Potted plants often cost less than cut flowers and last throughout the summer. Use tealights to add a soft glow to the party as the sun sets.

Play music from a stereo or plug in an MP3 player instead of hiring a DJ.

Entertain guests with simple lawn games that you already have on hand, such as horseshoes or tether-ball. If you have a volleyball net, set up a volleyball tournament.

Tips & Warnings

  • Another option is to hold a potluck barbecue. Guests can each bring a snack or side or can bring their preferred type of meat.

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