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How to Host a BBQ on a Budget

Traditionally Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer season, but for many it also kicks off grilling season. Hosting a summer barbecue is a great way to get people together and enjoy some good food, but it can get expensive and even throw off your monthly budget. You don’t have to acquire more credit card debt just to host a good party. Follow these ideas for a frugal and fun summer barbecue:

Our credit counseling advice is to always find ways to save money.

Our credit counseling advice is to always find ways to save money.

BBQ Food on a Budget

  • Always check your fridge before heading to the grocery store and follow these 20 money-saving tips to get the most bang for your buck at the store.
  • Dress up the standard barbecue food options. Stuff burgers with cheese, avocado, or bacon before they hit the grill. Try a make-your-own-burger/ hot dog bar. Consider grilling up a bunch of plain hamburgers and hotdogs and putting out a spread of cheap toppings like chopped onions, pickles, peppers, tomatoes, jalapenos, cheese, and sauces like salsa, barbecue sauce, and aioli.
  • Don’t overspend on store bought marinades and sauces. You’d be surprised how easy and cheap it is to make your own, and you’ll probably already have most of the ingredients sitting in the pantry.
  • Serve what’s in season. Fruits, vegetables, and fish are always cheaper when they are in season. Check your local farmer’s market or see what’s on sale at the grocery store.
  • Cut your own veggie and fruit trays. Instead of spending extra money on those convenient trays from the grocery store, why not cut your own? You’ll save a lot of money and be able to customize the trays to your tastes.
  • Consider making it a potluck. If you assign dishes to different guests (one way is to have everyone with a last name starting A-L bring apps, then M-Z bring dessert), there will be plenty to eat without breaking the bank of the host.

Cheap Memorial Day Beverage Options

  • If you’re having a larger party, a great way to save on alcohol is to think back to your college days. Get a keg, especially if most guests are beer drinkers. Kegs are a great way to save some money.
  • Consider making your party BYOB. As a host you may feel obligated to have some alcohol on hand, but most people drink different things and want their drink of choice. This will cut a significant amount of money out of your Memorial Day BBQ budget.

Decorating the BBQ on a Dime

  • Send invites out via email or Facebook. Do not waste your money on paper invitations and postage. Also, people are more likely to RSVP electronically so you will have a better idea of how many people to expect (and how much food to prepare).
  • Have any leftovers from holiday parties? Think plastic utensils, napkins, paper towels, etc.
  • Check Pinterest for budget-friendly DIY décor ideas instead of shelling out lots of money for decorations you will likely use once.
  • Hit the dollar store for cheap décor, cups, plates, cutlery, and more.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

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