5 ways to save money on BBQs, grills & smokers this summer

How to save money on BBQs & outdoor dining, including buying tips and maintenance advice

How to save money on BBQs, grills & smokers
(Image credit: Char-Broil)

What is the one thing on everyone’s to-do lists for the summer? Have a barbecue! Summer is officially here and it’s time to fire up your BBQ, grill or smoker. Whether you’re hosting a garden party or off to someone else’s BBQ, there are some money-saving tips you can use to keep the costs down on your BBQ while still going all out this summer.

As Deals Writer and Shopping Expert at T3, I’m always looking for ways to save money and cut the costs on your daily, monthly and annual purchases. From streaming services to lawn mowers, I’ve covered almost everything, and now I’m on to BBQs and other outdoor dining equipment.

The best barbecues (opens in new tab) and the best smokers (opens in new tab) can feed large groups of people, cater to a variety of requirements and give food an authentic and delicious BBQ taste. Depending on the power or brand that you choose, BBQs and grills can lean towards the more expensive end of the spectrum… but you don’t have to fork out hundreds of pounds to get a quality device or to keep it running.

Whether you’re in need of a new BBQ or you want to take better care of your old one, I’ve found 5 ways to save money on outdoor cooking this summer.

1. Consider what BBQ or grill you need

My number one tip when it comes to buying anything, is to consider what you need before you rush to the checkout. As BBQs, grills and smokers can rack up a lot of costs, you don’t want to waste your time or money looking for something that’s not right for you or your garden space.

Firstly, decide whether you’re looking for a BBQ, grill or smoker. BBQs cook over a slow and low flame, grills cook over a hot and fast fire and smokers use the smoke produced by itself to cook your food. While these don’t sound too different from one another, this can have an effect on your price so it's worth figuring out how you’d like to cook your food and which piece of outdoor dining equipment is up to the task.

Secondly, consider what size BBQ or grill you need. If you host a lot of BBQs, you’re going to want to choose something tailored to these demands and can cook for multiple varieties of people, from small gatherings to big parties. Size is definitely important when it comes to BBQs, as you don’t want to buy a huge piece of equipment if you’re not going to use it very much or if you have a small area. Measure where you want to put your BBQ and check how many it serves before you grab your wallet.

Next, think about the type of power the BBQ uses. I’ll go into this in a bit more detail in tip 3, but the best gas barbecues (opens in new tab) are going to be priced differently than charcoal or pellet BBQs. With charcoal and pellet BBQs, you need to stock up on fuel which is an additional cost. Deciding which to buy can be tricky but if you use your BBQ a lot, you’re better off choosing a gas BBQ over a charcoal one. Alternatively, if you’re a fair weather barbecue-r, a charcoal one is best suited to your needs.

Finally, if you’d like to take your BBQ with you on camping trips or beach days, you should look at one of the best portable barbecues (opens in new tab). Bigger BBQs can be tricky to store and move around so by choosing a smaller portable one, you have more versatility and options with your cooking.

How to save money on BBQs

(Image credit: Luis Quintero / Pexels)

2. Shop the sales

Now you know what you want, it’s time to do some shopping. BBQs, grills and smokers typically have the lowest prices during the summer, so the summer sales are the best place to look for cheap deals. The best retailers to shop for BBQs and any outdoor cooking equipment are Amazon (opens in new tab), B&Q (opens in new tab), Homebase (opens in new tab), Currys (opens in new tab), Argos (opens in new tab), John Lewis (opens in new tab) and Very (opens in new tab).

In addition to shopping the sales for the BBQ itself, you should also think about ways to save money on food and drink when you’re hosting. Adding up the costs of running a BBQ can be expensive, from the food and drink options to the plates, cutlery and napkins. Depending on where and when you’re shopping, you can find cheap deals on BBQ food at your local supermarket and you can also ask people to bring extras with them.

3. Be smart about your fuel

As I mentioned above, how your BBQ is powered can determine how much money you spend or save. The main ‘argument’ here is between gas BBQs and charcoal or pellet ones. Gas BBQs use natural gas suppliers or gas tanks to cook your food. Depending on the method you choose, you could be paying extra on your gas bill or forking out a lump sum on propane tanks. In comparison, charcoal or pellet BBQs run on just that, but you can get through your supply quite quickly and end up having to buy more in bulk to use your BBQ.

For both of these BBQs, you can save money by using the fuel sparingly and making sure you’re not wasting it. It goes without saying that you need to turn off your gas BBQ for safety reasons but if you’ve just finished grilling, turn it off immediately to save on gas usage. With charcoal or pellet BBQs, you don’t even need to buy or use that much charcoal to get it up and running. Instead, use a little bit of charcoal piled up and raid your recycling for paper or cardboard to keep your BBQ going. You can also find cheap deals on charcoal, pellets and gas tanks at the retailers I mentioned in tip 2.

How to save money on BBQs

(Image credit: Future)

4. Store your BBQ or grill correctly

Regardless of whether you’ve just bought a new BBQ or you’re using an old grill, you need to make sure you’re looking after them. While BBQs, grills and smokers are made from materials that can withstand a certain amount of wear and tear, you shouldn’t leave them outside all the time, especially during colder or wetter weather. It’s important to store your BBQ and grill properly to prevent your equipment from rusting or breaking. This also helps it last longer and makes for an easier quicker set-up when you come to use it again.

5. Clean your BBQ regularly

My final tip is to clean your BBQ before and after every use. This not only keeps your BBQ or grill in top condition but also has an affect on how your food tastes. Make sure you’re washing the BBQ, especially the grates and grills before use. Depending on how dirty it is, you can use water or make a paste with baking soda to remove dirt, grease and leftover food. After you’ve washed the grill, wipe the surface with cooking oil and paper towels. The oil forms a protective layer on the surface which helps avoid rust and moisture damage, plus it helps you to cook easier. Repeat this process after you’ve used your BBQ (once it cools down, of course).

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Bethan Girdler-Maslen

As T3's resident Shopping Expert and Deals Writer, Beth covers deals, discount codes, how to save money and seasonal holidays, including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day, Boxing Day and Easter sales. Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting DIY craft projects that will probably end in disaster!