Top view of a BBQ with sausages, beaf, and vegetables.

Host a summer barbecue on a budget with these 5 hot tips

Entertain your friends this summer—without breaking the bank.

6 min read

Summer’s here, and that means sunscreen, swimsuits, and—of course—the perfect excuse to throw a sizzling barbecue for all your friends and family. But how do you plan the perfect picnic when you’re trying to cut back on spending? We’ve gathered up the 5 tips you need to know to throw the best possible barbecue on a budget. Read on to start planning. 

1. Base your menu on your guest list

One of the most common blunders for overspending on any party? Buying too much food. No one wants their guests to go hungry, but if you overbuy food and drinks, you might as well throw your money on the grill.

To avoid this expensive mishap, keep track of your guest list so that you know exactly how many people will be attending. Once you have an accurate headcount, you can estimate how much food you’ll actually need, and you’re less likely to wind up with heaps of uneaten pasta salad or cold, leftover burger patties.

What vegetables should I buy for a BBQ?

Let’s start with the healthy stuff. According to the WHO, adults need to eat 14oz of fruit and vegetables a day. So, if your BBQ is going to take place over a single lunch or dinner, you’ll need around 7oz of fruits and vegetables per person. 

So, if ten adults are attending your BBQ, you might stock up on the following:

  • Two (150g) bags of sugar snap peas
  • Three tomatoes 
  • One iceberg lettuce
  • Five red peppers

This list is just to give you an idea of the amounts you’ll need—feel free to sub in other fruits and veggies depending on your preference, availability, and—of course—the price. 

How much meat should I buy for a BBQ party?

But what does this mean when it comes to calculating the amount of meat you’ll need per person? In general, you should aim for around ⅓ to ½  of a pound of meat per adult. For children, you’ll want to halve the amount to around ⅙ to ¼ of a pound.

For each adult, you’d need roughly:

  • One quarter pounder burger patty (4oz)
  • One frankfurter hot dog sausage (2oz)
  • Four chicken thighs (the meat not including the bone weighs around 2.5oz) 

So, for ten adults, you’d need the following:

  • Ten quarter-pound burger patties
  • Ten frankfurter hot dog sausages
  • Forty chicken thighs

As you’re tallying up how much meat to buy for each person, remember to factor in any vegetarians or vegans so that you don’t wind up buying extra meat just to have it go to waste.

2. Load up on carbs

When you’re planning a barbecue on a budget, carbohydrates are your best friends. Compared to the price of meat, not only are they much cheaper, but they’re a great way of bulking up your food offering to guarantee that none of your guests go hungry. For the cost of a single steak, you could make a delicious potato salad to feed eight people. Likewise, for the price of four chicken thighs, you could make two to three loaves of garlic bread that’d feed six.

Need some menu inspiration? Here are some go-to classics that are sure to keep everybody coming back for seconds:

  • Potato salad
  • Garlic bread or cornbread
  • Caprese pasta salad
  • Mac and cheese
  • Roasted potatoes

Like with your veggies, look for ingredients that are on sale or that you already have on hand to keep costs down.

3. How to shop for ethical meat on a budget

If you want to cut costs big time, you’ll have to choose different cuts of meat. For example, a single piece of ribeye steak would cost you the same as around fourteen homemade burger patties. However, that doesn’t mean you have to forego ethically produced meat just to save a few bucks. You can still buy meat on a budget while thinking responsibly.

Try some shish kabobs

Meat kabobs are a seriously economical BBQ dish. You only need to use two to three small pieces of meat on a single skewer, then intersperse them with vegetables. Spice them up with your favorite sauces and let your guests dig in.

Make your own patties

It’s much cheaper to make your own burger patties than it is to buy premade ones. What’s more, you can add a personal twist with additional herbs and seasonings. Try parsley or dill for a more Mediterranean taste, or paprika and chili for patties with a bit of bite! 

Opt for chicken on the bone

Chicken on the bone (thighs, wings, and drumsticks) is much cheaper than chicken breast. The key to making these cuts taste amazing? Marinades. The night before your barbecue, rub your cuts of chicken in a delicious marinade and let them soak in the spices overnight.

4. Give yourself a fixed BBQ party budget

It sounds simple, but it still needs to be said. Giving yourself a fixed amount to spend on your BBQ is one of the best ways to make sure you don’t overspend. By forcing yourself to stay within your fixed budget, you may start coming up with some interesting, creative solutions to your problem. Only $5 to spend on drinks for ten people? Make two gallons of homemade iced tea. Just $4 to spend on dessert? Bake 60 homemade chocolate chip cookies. The more ambitious and economical your budget, the more creative you’ll have to become.

5. Divide and conquer

Finally, the best way to save money on your barbecue is to split the costs. Not only does this remove the financial burden, but planning the event with your friends can make some logistics even easier. For instance, you might suggest hosting the barbecue as a potluck cookout, where each person brings a dish to share. Or, you could buy all of the food and drinks ahead of time and split the costs with everyone later.

Looking for a fool-proof way to save and spend with friends on an epic summer barbecue? Shared Spaces is here to help. Simply create a shared space, name it after your event, set your group savings goal for the party, then invite your co-hosts to join. Any N26 customer is eligible to join a shared space. Set aside your budget together, and only dip into it for your shared goal: the perfect summer soiree—that doesn’t break the bank.


Your Money at N26

Shared Spaces isn’t the only tool here to help you stay on top of your finances. Enjoy instant notifications after every transaction so you always know exactly where your money is. Want an easier way to save? Our Statistics feature tracks your categorizes your spending at the end of every month so you can optimize your budget for the future. Set aside money every time you spend with Round-Ups, the feature that rounds every purchase to the nearest euro and moves the difference into your chosen space. Whatever your goals are, N26 is here to help. Find your perfect plan today. 

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