How to Host a Cookout on a Budget

Archive Budget Food

In the heart of summer, BBQ’s are a common occurrence for many Americans. However, if you are a person or family on a budget, you may shy away from hosting one because feeding a multitude of people can certainly be a budget buster. If you plan ahead, you can keep your cookout budget to a minimum while still hosting a quality party. 

My family and I love to host. We frequently have people over for dinner and to BBQ in the summer and love doing it! It is so much fun and there is just something about sharing a meal together that brings people together.

Hosting people at your home for a cookout is great fun and a blessing for both you and the people who you choose to invite. Being a budget shouldn’t keep you from doing these things and having fun. It is possible to host a cookout on a budget if you follow some simple tricks. 

The obvious tip would be to have everyone bring a dish to share. While that is a great idea and can help save you money, I understand that doing that is not always an option. So hear are some things you can plan to save money!


The greatest expense for a cookout is always the meat. Fortunately there are options that are rather budget friendly, even when you are hosting a large number of people. If you are having trouble deciding on which meat to serve, be sure to check the sales at your local grocery store before you plan your menu.

Hot Dogs/Brats

Hot Dogs and brats are generally a very cheap option. You can buy a package and feed a crew of people for rather cheap. Plus, you can’t go wrong. Most people enjoy a hot dog or brat and you won’t have too many complaints from kids or adults.


Depending on your meat, you can go expensive or budget friendly on this one. My suggestion is to make your own patty’s. If you buy a meat with a high fat content, you can save even more money, and most of the fat will drip off into the grill if you aren’t into that.


Chicken thighs, wings, and legs are a generally an inexpensive option. All you need to do is season and grab some BBQ sauce and you can make most people happy!


Corn on the Cob

When in season, corn on the cob is a cheap and easy crowd pleaser. All you need is butter and salt and everyone is happy! If you are grilling corn on the cob, peel back the husks, remove the silk and add butter and seasoning. Before placing on the grill, put the husks back over the corn and grill away!


Potatoes are a cheap option no matter what time of year it is! If you plan to grill potatoes, Chop potatoes into cubes or slices, drizzle with oil, season to taste and place on the grill. Typically they take longer than other meats (usually I say about a half an hour, give or take depending on the temperature of the grill).

Vegetable Kabobs

The great thing about summer is that there is so much fresh produce in season. Meaning eating healthy vegetables and fruits is a cheap option! Putting together some vegetable kabobs is certainly a lot easier when you have all the fresh produce available to you.



Is a great option because one can feed a large crowd and most people love a good watermelon in the summer. Plus, watermelon in season is relatively cheap and delicious!

In Season Fruit

Again, with many produce in season, cheap fruit is not hard to come by. Look to see what is in season at that time and go with those options. You really can’t go wrong with fruit in the summer.

Other Sides

Baked Beans

A can of baked beans is cheap and easy. Simply put the beans in the pot on a stove or put the can on the grill and you have a cheap and easy side.

Pasta Salad

There are many pasta salad recipes out there for the summer. If you look for one with few ingredients, you can get away with spending very little money. There are also many boxed pasta salad options available. They are cheap to buy and easy to make. Just make sure you prep it ahead of time so it can spend some time cooling in the fridge before guests arrive.  


Chips, especially off brand chips are a great option. If you put the chips in a bowl and set it out for your guests, they won’t even know that it is an off brand and it looks put together for your guests.


Salads are as expensive or inexpensive as you make them. If you toss together a few standard ingredients: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. and throw out some salad dressings for your guests, you will have a great and healthy option for your guests. You can also buy the pre-made chopped salads that they have available in stores.


Iced Tea

Pre-made tea, a tea mix, or homemade tea is usually a very inexpensive option. Anything cold on those hot days will make your guests happy!


You can’t go wrong with lemonade in the summer time! Again you have options of pre-made lemonade, a lemonade mix or homemade. A lemonade mix will probably be your cheapest and easiest option here.


If you are buying alcohol for a crowd, this can often be a budget buster. The cheapest option would probably be buying some hard liquor so people can add that to Iced tea or lemonade or another drink of their choice. In reality, if you are on a budget, it will always be best to ask people to bring their own drinks or alcohol.