Frugal Living » 12 Tips for Saving on Cookouts

12 Tips for Saving on Cookouts

fb iconpinterest iconpinterest iconlinkedin iconbuffer icon

Throwing a cookout or BBQ bash is a blast, but the costs of doing so can add up quickly! Here are several awesome tips and tricks for keeping your expenses to a bare minimum, while keeping your guests content. . .

12 Tips for Saving on Cookouts

For the absolute least expensive route to throw a big bash, make the event potluck. There are several different ways to do this, you can provide the main dish such as marinated chicken or pork and ask that the guests bring a side to share, or you can have them bring their own meat and you provide the sides, etc.


Keep the Event Outside

Hold the cookout outside, keeping the event on a patio, back deck, screened porch, or even under a pop-up tent area for additional shade. This keeps guests from running in and out of the house (except to use the restroom), sending your cooling bills soaring as your air conditioner attempts to keep up.

Purchase in Season

At certain times of the year meats are on sale, generally around Memorial Day Weekend, Labor Day weekend, and the 4th of July. If you know you’ll be hosting BBQ parties or gatherings, purchase meat and freeze it while it’s at it’s best price. If you don’t happen to have freezer space for storage, cook less expensive cuts of meat and poultry, such as grilling a whole chicken, or chicken leg quarters that have been marinated.


Bring your own Booze or Bring your own Beverage- depending on how you wish to word it. Nearly all of our gatherings are BYOB for several reasons.

Liability for one- you didn’t provide alcohol to the guests, they provided their own, removing most, if not ALL of your liability should something happen. Canned beverages (soda) are expensive and oftentimes people will open one, forget where they set it down, and open another after having only a sip or two, wasting a ton of money in the process. If you want to provide beverages, make a pitcher or gallon just of ice tea or lemonade.

Applebees Lemonade Recipe

Go Generic

Sometimes you really need to provide the beverages, during graduation parties or family reunions when people are traveling great distances just to attend. If this is the case, go with store brands to save a significant amount of money.

Freshen Up the Favorites

You’ve probably heard the saying “Oldie but Goodie”, that rings true! Give old favorites such as hot dogs and hamburgers a bit of new flare by adding new flavors or flourishes. Some examples: add some shredded pepper jack cheese to the burger when forming hamburgers, add caramelized onions to add both sweetness and depth, spiral cut hot dogs, add a bit of ground lamb, alligator, sausage, etc to the burger before grilling. A little goes a long way!

Grilling Favorites

Grill your Sides

While the grill is already hot and ready why not throw on some simple sides, grilled asparagus, corn on the cob, veggies from the garden, even peaches or pineapple! This keeps you out of the kitchen, keeps the stove off, and avoids wasted utilities trying to cool the house back down.

Bacon Wrapped Grilled Corn on the Cob

Glam it Up

If you’re cooking with charcoal and have some dried herbs in the pantry toss a pinch or two onto the ready coals to impart a delicious flavor and aroma to your entrees.


Go Easy on the Fuel

Remember this simple rule of thumb, you’ll need approximately 30 charcoal briquettes per pound of meat.


Skip these Money Wasting Pitfalls:

Premade Marinades/Rubs– these can run as much as $5 a bottle, make your own seasoning blends for up to 95% savings.

Plastic Cutlery– these are often marketed as “compostable” plastics and are supposedly a greener option for the earth. Do you know what’s greener than that? Placing a dollar store pitcher of hot soapy water to toss dirty silverware into when your guests are done eating. You’ve just saved yourself $4 and saved the environment from plastic waste.

Prepackaged Veggie Platters
– when you’re in a pinch and need something quick you might be tempted to spend $10-15 on a veggie platter that really only contains $3-4 worth of vegetables. Save yourself some money by purchasing the veggies and cutting them yourself. (Enlist the kids or spouse to help)


Fancy Picnic Sets- purchasing reusable plastic cups, plates, and picnic baskets can seem like a great alternative to disposables- and they MAY be, but will you actually USE them? A picnic basket with just 4 plates runs about $39.99, That’s literally 10x’s more than a 50 pack of plates. To break it down further, you’d literally have to go on more than 125 “picnics” to break even. Is it still worth it?

By the way, here’s a wonderful way to keep paper towels on hand, off the ground, and within reach, simply slip a roll of paper towels onto a garden flag pole.


© Can Stock Photo Inc. / gajdamak

View More Frugal Living Ideas

Leave a Comment