Having a Sizzling Summer BBQ Without Burning Through Your Budget

Date posted: July 29, 2016
BBQ Without Burning Through Your Budget

This Summer, use these five easy-to-follow tips and tricks to throw an amazing BBQ that will thrill your family and friends, without taking a bite out of your budget.

Buy inexpensive cuts of meat

Although meat can be the most expensive item on any pre-BBQ shopping list, it is possible to save money when shopping for this fan favourite. When buying chicken, be sure to purchase inexpensive, dark cuts, such as thighs and drumsticks, rather than chicken breasts. Also, stick to smaller, bite-sized cuts of red meat, such as beef and lamb. These can be served as shish kebabs skewers, stacked along with some beautiful, colourful vegetables. Alternatively, if you want to serve steaks, skirt or flank cuts are much less expensive than bone-in thicker cuts such as a t-bone steak. For your seafood-loving guests, consider grilling some halibut and mackerel as affordable white fish options.

Another way to save on meat for your BBQ is to take advantage of sales and promotions at your local grocery store or butcher. Buy meat at a lower cost at that time, and freeze it until it’s time to prep it for the grill.

Here is a delicious example of a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to serve pork at your next Summer BBQ:

Greek BBQ Chicken and Potatoes

Prep Time: 12 min  

Cooking Time: 25 min


  • 2 whole chickens (3 lbs each) - $1.77/lb per chicken
  • 14 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp pepper
  • cucumber - $0.75
  • grape tomatoes - $0.99/lb
  • kalamata olives - optional
  • crumbled feta cheese - optional
  • red onion
  • bell peppers


  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Butterfly the chickens by cutting along both sides of the chicken back (crunching through the ribs) to remove it. Then flip the chicken over so the cavity is facing down and press down on the whole bird to flatten it. Coat all sides of the chickens with the marinade, including between the skin and the breast meat.
  3. Fire up the BBQ; place the chickens on the other side of the BBQ. The target done-ness is 145F for the breast meat and 165F for the thighs.
  4. BBQ Greek potatoes: Using the same marinade ingredients as the chicken, cut potatoes into wedges and split into 2-3 portions. Wrap each portion in a loose foil package and place on the BBQ grill with the chicken.
  5. Greek Salad. Mix large chunks of cucumber, red onion, bell peppers, and grape tomatoes, along with kalamata olives and crumbled feta cheese. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, with some minced garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper for dressing.

With 3.5lbs of meat and everything coming at approximately $26*, this meal should provide 10 adult portions, at a cost of $2.60 per meal.



*Prices are average approximations. Refer to local vendors for accurate food prices.

Add a pinch of potluck

Potlucks are a great way to adds a variety of tastes to your BBQ spread and save money! Cut costs on appetizers, salads, snacks, drinks, and desserts by asking friends and family to bring something from any of those categories. Or, consider asking friends and family to to contribute drinks, bringing enough for themselves or to share, and help keep your costs down.

Incorporate fruits and veggies

Not only do fruits and vegetables add beautiful, vibrant colours to your spread, they are an inexpensive, healthy option for your guests. Local, fresh produce is readily available during the Summer season and is therefore less expensive than in the Fall or Winter. Incorporate seasonal fruits and veggies to your BBQ by creating beautiful salads, and don’t be afraid to throw some of them on the grill!  In June and July, seasonal produce includes strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, asparagus, rhubarb, peas, peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini. In August and September, you can buy local squash, cabbage, eggplant, bell peppers, and apples at low, seasonal costs.

Shop local farmers’ markets for more affordable produce than grocery store prices.  These are an inexpensive option because there is no additional “middle man” costs like shipping, marketing, delivery, and so on. Great grilling options from the farmer’s market include: corn, asparagus, bell peppers, and even pineapple.

This corn on the cob recipe packs the perfect punch of flavour your BBQ guests will love:    


Zesty Grilled Corn on the Cob

Prep Time: 20 min  

Cooking Time: 20 min


  • 1/3 cup butter - $3.97/block
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 6 ears fresh corn - $0.77 ea


  1. Preheat grill for medium heat.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter or margarine. Stir in mustard, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon pepper seasoning.
  3. Place each ear of corn on a 13x12 inch piece of HEAVY DUTY aluminum foil. Drizzle with butter mixture. Wrap loosely, leaving space for the expansion of steam, and seal.
  4. Grill over medium coals for 15 to 20 minutes, or until corn is tender. Small ears will take less time, and larger ears may take more. Carefully unwrap foil, and serve.

With 6 ears of corn, and additional ingredient portions coming in at approximately $5*, this meal should provide 6 adult portions, at a cost of $0.80 per portion.



*Prices are average approximations. Refer to local vendors for accurate food prices.

It’s all in the mix: Reinvent the basics

You can take the “usual” inexpensive BBQ options and make them fancier with special toppings. Add a kick to traditional burgers by adding barbeque sauce or cheddar cheese directly into the ground beef, or top it off with bacon for an extra kick. Or, add some pizzazz to store-bought, frozen burger patties with out-of-the-ordinary toppings that you might already have in the cupboard, like hot sauce, pico de gallo, peach salsa, guacamole, tzatziki sauce, pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese, chipotle mayo and more! You could even use these toppings to accessorize grilled hot dogs.

Having a tight budget shouldn’t stop you from making the most of a short, sweet Canadian Summer, so call up your friends, and fire up that grill. Happy BBQ-ing!

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