It’s always fun to get together with family and friends in the summer months and throw together a BBQ to enjoy friendship, laughter and fun. However if you’re working on a budget, it can be stressful trying to come up with ideas to keep the cost down but to ensure everyone eats well. I can help.
First of all, when planning your menu, you should always start with the # of mouths you need to feed. In our family alone, we have 7 mouths, add in our extended family that usually attend our BBQs and you’ve easily hit 14. Then add in friends and neighbors and the cost of food increases dramatically as we add more mouths to feed. But that won’t keep us from throwing a great BBQ and making sure nobody goes home hungry.
Usually menu planning for a BBQ begins with the main dish. What are you planning on serving your guests? How much room do you need?
For the most frugal parties, hamburgers, hot dogs and brats seem to be the answer. But there is so much more you can do, to feed your guests well.
Our favorite BBQ main dish is actually pork ribs. You can usually watch the meat case for great deals starting in Spring, buy up what you think you’ll need and freeze it until you’re ready to use it. Pork is a pretty inexpensive meat on it’s own, but then when you watch for sales or deals you can wind up with quite a lot for not a lot of money.
- 1½ cups of chicken broth
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced onions
- ¼ cup steak sauce
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 10lbs of pork ribs (or other cuts of pork)
- In a large bowl, combine the first 9 ingredients and mix well. Pour 1-1/2 cups of the marinade into a large covered plastic container and add the ribs. Turn the ribs to coat completely.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours but 10+ is better. In another container, cover and refrigerate the remaining marinade.
- When you're ready to prepare, drain and discard the marinade from the ribs.
- Grill the pork ribs on the bbq grill, covered, over indirect medium heat for 20 minutes on each side. Baste the ribs with some the extra marinade sauce.
- Grill 15-20 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 160°, turning and basting occasionally.
- You can serve the ribs with any remaining sauce or mix up a new batch.
We can’t forget the side dishes and there are so many budget friendly recipes and options for frugal side dishes. You can feed any crowd for less with these great recipes.
My favorite go-to frugal side dishes are always my Grilled Corn with Herbed Butter and my Bacon Potato Salad. (links to recipes below)
Corn is a great inexpensive side dish to serve with any BBQ. The reason being is that corn usually runs about .28 an ear and if you’re lucky you can go to the local farmer’s market and get it for 4/$1, sometimes better – for a party of 15 that’s less than $5 for a side dish and corn is a popular item at BBQ’s! Who doesn’t enjoy corn?
This awesome recipe is our favorite way to grill corn.
I love potatoes as an easy and inexpensive side dish. You can usually get HUGE bags of baking potatoes for around $3-$5 – anywhere from 5lbs to 10lbs and it’s definitely enough to serve a small army. Potatoes can be prepared in so many different ways. You can make your own french fries, or Mash ’em for some yummy Cream Mashed Potatoes. You can even take them a step further and make these beautiful, fancy Parmesan Hasselback Potatoes.
Our favorite thing to do for a BBQ though, is to make up a large batch of this Bacon Potato Salad that is always a huge hit. Everyone asks for the recipe and it’s so super simple and delicious, and goes with practically anything.
Obviously there are dozens of ideas you can use to create a perfect side dish. Veggies and fruit are always a popular item and if you plan around sales and seasonal availability, you can really get some great deals.
Salads in general tend to be popular and inexpensive. Even just a regular salad, but think outside the box and create a great pasta salad (pasta is cheap!) or egg salad or fruit salad.
Beans are a popular BBQ item and go great with just about any meat you throw on the grill.
No BBQ at our house is complete without this Moist Sweet Cornbread we make. This is the cornbread that converts haters. This is the cornbread that rises above all other cornbreads. I cannot explain it, but many a cornbread hater (including myself) has been converted with one sweet bite of this amazing stuff. I kid you not. Read the reviews if you don’t believe me. I wouldn’t lie to you.
A large BBQ doesn’t have to cost a ton of money to be successful, taste great and have everyone stuffed.
I’d love to know what your favorite budget friendly main dish or side dish happens to be for a large BBQ. Tell me in the comments below.
Also, keep a lookout for a Lazy Days and BBQs Ebook coming to my blog soon – it will compile all of the post in the series together in one easy to read book, and will include lots of extra’s including new, never before seen recipes and other goodies.
Be sure to visit the other bloggers in this series, to get more frugal tips for the perfect BBQ.