Backyard BBQ on a Budget
Expert Advice

Fun doesn’t have to be costly. With rising gas prices and escalating grocery bills, we’re all looking for ways to stretch that dollar while we celebrate full stadiums, crowded beaches, along with spring and summer fun in the sun. Don’t fret. We can show you some clever ways to plan your next backyard BBQ on a budget and not empty your wallet. Get ready to throw a stellar party with friends and family!

Buy from Big Box

Despite what you may think, or have heard, Costco and Sam’s Club generally have a great selection of meat at lower prices than your regular grocery store. Of course, you must buy in large quantities, but you can cook what you need for your party this weekend and freeze the rest, saving on your weekly cooking time as well. Check out their prices on those other party essentials as well, like paper plates, cups, and napkins. You may find the low cost of a membership to be worth it when you total up a summer and fall of tailgates, barbecues, and that big family reunion.

Shop at the Right Time

So, the thought of buying your steaks at Sam’s Club makes your stomach turn. We get it. You love going to see Bob, your local butcher. He’s been there for years and knows exactly what you want and how to cut it. However, there’s a time and place for everything. Bob may need to wait for bigger occasions or that bonus you expect. Kroger, however, always has discounted prices on Tuesday for the meat that didn’t sell over the weekend. Also take note of post-holiday deals. Much like buying candy after Halloween, you can also buy good cuts of meat at a cheap price right after most major holidays. Think turkey and prime rib right after Thanksgiving and Christmas, or lamb after Easter. 

Think Substitution

Meat prices have risen significantly due to COVID and supply chain issues. Add in that historically, meat prices increase right before big grilling events—Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and July 4th—and you may think good meat is out of reach this summer. Not so. You can counter those rises with a few choice substitutions in the cuts. Chicken thighs, for instance, hot off the grill drip with the same delicious flavor—and some say even moister—than the notably more expensive chicken breasts. In beef, instead of smoking a brisket, try smoking a tri tip or a roast. Also remember that the cut of meat doesn’t define the excellence of your gathering.

Buy in Bulk

Seasonings haven’t fared any better in the rising prices fiasco than meat. But don’t hold back. Instead, turn once again to the big box clubs. You can purchase your rubs and seasonings in bulk with marked savings over grocery stores or making your own, especially if you use more than a few ingredients. If the clubs turn you off, find a good commercial rub and buy in bulk directly from them. Many of the top rub companies sell seasonings in large bottles or even in bags by the pound online.


Making a big batch of anything saves money in the long run. But only if you don’t throw out the leftovers. And nobody wants to eat the same meal over and over for days. But you can repurpose your leftovers in whole new dishes, like nachos, tortillas, soups or as a side dish. Or even better, invest in a machine, such as a vacuum sealer, that pristinely preserves your leftovers, resulting in savings over the long run. For even more practical usage, divide your cuts into smaller portions before freezing for more of a grab-and-go meal.

Spread the Cost

Nowhere is it stated that the backyard barbecue host must foot the bill for the entire party. Sure, you may want to be the “provider of the meat,” and that is your right to do so. However, as your kindergarten teacher wisely pointed out, sharing is fun. And it means no gathering gets nixed in a time of tightening our belts. Let your friends chip into the fun. Divide and conquer is a great way to look at it. Have someone bring the chips and dip, someone else bring ice…and side dishes, and desserts, and napkins and anything else. Go BYOB for the liquor. Or ask someone else to bring the beer and other adult beverages. At the end of the day, it’s all about the food, fun, and camaraderie, so spread the cheer—and the costs.