BBQs on a Budget

Summer's here which means only one thing, BBQ season. But how do you save and host a great summer get-together? We've got you covered.

A closeup image of a steaks, sausages and slices of orange on a charcoal BBQ grill.
(Image credit: Getty)

Having friends and family over at the weekend or on a bank holiday for a big old barbecue is a key part of the British summer. However, the guest list can quickly grow and it can quickly become an expensive event.

Have no fear though, we’re here to offer you a range of ways to save on those get-togethers without sacrificing the fun or hurting the wallet too much. We’ve written before about how to save on groceries when doing your weekly shop, so why not give BBQs the same treatment?

BBQs

We're going to split this into two parts, the barbecue itself and then the food. So what are some ways you can save on your new barbecue?

Flames underneath a grill with embers shooting off into the air against a black background.

(Image credit: Getty)

Compare Prices and Read Reviews

When looking at buying a new BBQ the first thing you should do is check reviews and compare the prices of the different models that you’re looking at. This may mean you may end up paying slightly more for a barbecue but it’ll help avoid buyer’s remorse. If you buy something that’s unreliable, poor quality, isn’t big enough or doesn’t have all the features that you’d like to save a bit of money now you’ll more than likely end up making a second purchase costing you more in the long run. 

It’s also worth considering whether you’re going to opt for a gas or charcoal BBQ. Charcoal barbecues are noticeably cheaper to buy and are available for a fraction of the cost. One benefit of using charcoal is that charcoal can be reused! Meaning that you can make a bag of charcoal last longer saving you money in the long run.

Best Time of Year to Buy One

As long as you’re not desperate to get barbecuing straight away, planning and timing your purchase is a straightforward way to have some extra money in your pocket. Unsurprisingly, the cheapest time to buy a barbecue is at the end of the summer and the beginning of the autumn when retailers are trying to clear whatever stock they have left. Whilst it won’t save you money on this summer’s gatherings but you’ll be saving on the ones for years to come.  

Disposable v Permanent

A lit disposable BBQ on the grass in a park.

(Image credit: Getty)

If you’re looking at doing a one-off barbecue over the summer for a small group of people, you might not even have to make a big purchase. Depending on the type of food you’re looking at cooking then maybe consider opting for a disposable one. Disposable barbecues are a great cost-efficient way of scratching summer barbecue itch without much expenditure. They’re also great for those living somewhere without a big garden with enough room for a permanent standing grill.

Cooking Inside

Whilst not everyone’s first thought when they think of a summer BBQ, rather than splash the cash on something to cook outside that you’ll only use a few times a year, why not cook everything indoors? Opting to use an indoor grill or oven to cook everything and then serving it outside will give you all of the enjoyment of a fine summer tradition.

Maintain Your BBQ

Once you have bought your BBQ make sure to maintain and care for it properly. Bethan Girdler-Maslen over at T3 covered all the ways you need to look after your new grill to give it the longest life possible. Maintaining the one you’ve already got avoids any more expensive purchases down the line.

Food

So we've covered some of the ways that you can get grilling for less, so what about ways to save on food?

Close up of sliced roasted medium rare barbecue steak with rosemary, roasted garlic and cutlery on rustic iron grill.

(Image credit: Getty)

Get People To Bring Their Own

One of the issues with catering for a bigger group of people is getting food that everyone enjoys. One way around this, and one way that helps you save money, is just to supply the classics and staple barbecue foods and ask your guests to bring anything in particular that they would like. This way, you can save yourself a bit of money and everyone gets to eat what they’d like! This is also a great way to deal with any dietary requirements that your guests may have.

Supermarket Summer Ranges

Supermarkets know that as soon as the sun hits people are looking forward to having a barbecue. So they tend to introduce special summer ranges to cater for these. Not only can you pick things up that aren’t usually available throughout the rest of the year but you’ll probably be able to take advantage of a multibuy deal or a special offer to bring the cost down. 

If you’re looking for even more savings then why not wait until the day of the barbecue and shop the reduced sections? Seeing what’s in the reduced sections can easily land you some considerable savings simply because the supermarket is running out of time to sell the food!

Less Expensive Meats

Another option for saving is choosing to use less expensive meats or opting for cheaper cuts of meat. Alongside this, you can also use other ingredients to bulk out servings to use less meat and other more expensive ingredients. Slicing a hot dog in half for example and splitting it across two buns, and filling them with things like salad and fried onions will stretch that meat further without sacrificing any taste or flavours.

Less Expensive Drinks

Diluted orange juice in glasses with bamboo straws on a picnic table.

(Image credit: Getty)

If you’re being an incredibly generous host and supplying your guests with drinks then be careful. Depending on how many people are coming keeping them hydrated in the summer sun can become quite an expense, especially with alcohol. For soft drinks, opt for bigger bottles over cans as they provide better value for money and choosing cheaper brands or supermarket-own brands will net you an even more considerable saving. 

Alcoholic drinks are a little bit harder to save on. When choosing beers and ciders, the easiest way to save money is just to go for bigger and lower-cost brands. The household names are generally cheaper, and as great as they may be, smaller breweries and craft beers are much more expensive. If you’re going all out and offering your guests cocktails, then be sure to follow our guide for which cocktail is the cheapest to make to get you the most for your money. 

Is there anything else?

So those are some of the ways that you can host a BBQ without breaking the bank. Although, we have left out the most straightforward way to save. The easiest way to cut costs is to simply invite fewer people! You may feel antisocial and you may offend some people but you know what's more important? Saving money.

Jordan Alexander
Food & Drink Editor

I’m Jordan and I’ve been working at MyVoucherCodes since the summer of 2021. Outside of money-saving, I’m a keen musician and guitar player and can regularly be found in a dingy venue somewhere in Bristol or perched in front of my laptop recording. When I’m not doing this you’ll find me exploring the city, watching cult B movies, reading a Stephen King or Murakami novel, or guiding the mighty Bath City to Champions League glory on Football Manager. All the cliches, I know.