Every Barbecue Should Be A Potluck

Plan a meat-free menu and split the assignments among your friends to save a buck this summer.

Inflation is coming for everything, and that includes your summer cookouts. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the cost of supplies for an average barbecue for 10 people is up 17% from 2021. But that shouldn't stop you from lighting up the grill and having people over. Instead, split the costs and get creative with a potluck-style cookout.

How much does hosting a barbecue cost?

Assuming you have all the basics of a summer grill sesh—burgers, fruit, potato salad, pork, chicken, chips, beans, lemonade, and ice cream—the AFBF estimates that it'll cost about $69.68 to feed 10 guests at a cookout this year. Some of those go-to ingredients are seeing higher inflation rates than others. Meat prices are up 30% or more from 2021, with two pounds of ground beef costing $11.12 and two pounds of boneless skinless chicken costing $8.99 on average.


Some ingredients are miraculously seeing lower costs from last year, among them strawberries, sliced cheese, and potato chips. "Better weather conditions in some fruit-growing regions and greater retailer pricing flexibility for processed products are the likely drivers behind the modest price declines for these items," AFBF says.

How to host a less expensive cookout

Asking one person to cover the $70 bill plus the labor of putting everything together for a group may seem like a lot, but $7 per person for just one dish, now that feels more reasonable. And if the group wants to save even more money, be open about menu planning ahead of time and agree on a meat-free spread. Heck, if you want to get really creative, create a Chopped-style competition to see what kind of dishes can get put together with those ingredients mentioned above that are (so far) seemingly unaffected by inflation.


Is it rude to force your guests to bring food to a party you're hosting? Not at all, according to Lizzie Post, who answered our etiquette questions on this topic when a dinner party gone wrong went viral. The most important thing about any potluck is to establish the expectations ahead of time so that guests have plenty of time to prepare their dish and decide if they can afford to attend. And definitely don't surprise anyone with a Venmo request after the fact.

Now go forth and grill without breaking the bank. It's a human right to eat slaw in the summer sun, and you deserve it, dammit.