Making BBQ for a Large Group?

June 11, 2008

Serving bbq ribs to a large group.I have planned a backyard BBQ for my daughter's 8th birthday. Our guest list this year became a little larger than expected. My daughter wanted to invite a lot more of her school friends and we usually do not do this as her birthday falls after school has ended. We allowed her to invite about 6 boys from her class and 6 girls. Then we got hit with another 25 guests that we usually do not have.


My father in law will have family arriving from New Jersey, Louisiana, and California this includes adults and many more children. Now I am really worried. I did not budget so many extra mouths to feed. I need some advice on low cost recipes. Where can I find coupons for Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Buns, Drinks, Chips and everything else needed? Can anyone help me save money on a party for atleast 50 people or more? I don't know where to start.

By Nicolle from Stafford, VA


June 12, 20081 found this helpful

I feel for you. My son is a July baby, and while we don't do friends for parties, we have a list of about 70 people if everyone in the family shows up.

Why don't you ask everyone to bring a covered dish? We even did that for our wedding, and most everyone was happy to oblige. We just told them that we weren't having the typical wedding to begin with and it would be a covered dish thing......your not having the typical BBQ, so you can do the covered dish thing too.


Think about who makes what or who is "known" for what in the family. We have the automatic who's bringing what of people that bring the potato salad, baked beans, cole slaw, cheesecake, etc. Those that aren't sure can bring a bag of chips, pretzels, a veggie tray, fruit tray, cheese tray. Nothing outlandishly expensive, but it saves when you add it all up. You can even see if there is anyone with extra flatware or paper products as well. We usually at least supplied the meat for the bbq though....not appearing too cheap....

Make sure to do this right away. If you wait til the last minute, there might be some who would have loved to bring something, but didn't have the time or money to go fetch ingredients from the store.

Good Luck


Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 696 Feedbacks
June 12, 20080 found this helpful

I agree with Katie since this affair has snowballed into a bigger guest list than planned. I don't think anyone would mind helping out....most folks are only too happy to bring something and if everyone pitches in, it's not like anyone has to spend a lot.

By Ellie (Guest Post)
June 12, 20080 found this helpful

I agree too. We don't have a huge family, but even so it's our tradition to take something towards the meal to help out the host family. It can be a salad, a casserole dish, a dessert.


It gives a lovely oldfashioned feeling of 'sharing' and takes some of the burden off the host.

June 12, 20080 found this helpful

We have a fish fry every year in September. We furnish the fish, potato salad, baked beans and onion rings. I ask people, if they ask me, to bring a desert. Works out great.
By the way, our fish fry totals anywhere from 130 to 175 people so I always ask for an RSVP. We fish our lake for most of the fish. I like pollack (walleye) so we buy that. We can usually get a good deal.
Fish is relatively inexpensive if you shop around. Next I would consider chicken thighs/legs on sale. Normally around .49-.59 cents this time of year. Might want to grill chicken.

June 12, 20080 found this helpful

The suggestions to have the guests help out are good, except it sounds as if a lot of the adults are already visiting from out of town, so wouldn't have access to their own kitchens. If that's the case, I think shopping at a warehouse store like Sam's, Cosco or GFS might be your best bet. I'd have plenty of hot dogs and mac and cheese for the kids. It seems like that's what they really are interested in, plus they get excited and busy playing and don't usually eat a lot anyway.


If your budget is really tight, I wouldn't be too shy about telling your father-in-law so, especially if these are relatives you wouldn't be inviting to your home otherwise. Since it sounds like they are really HIS guests, perhaps he'd be willing to help with the expenses.

By (Guest Post)
June 12, 20080 found this helpful

Since this isn't really "family" but guests, you don't want to ask for items like you would a potluck. You can do it for fifty pretty easily by going to a website, (there are many-for feeding 50 people, so you don't overshop, and many suggestions for inexpensive recipes). Consider hot dogs and sloppy joes (makes meat go further) Macaroni salad, baked beans, cut up veggies, pickles and chips can go a long way. Smart and Final or stores like that carry bulk size cans of some of these items (beans, 3 bean salad, etc.) that come very cheap (less than cost to make).


Buy gallon of ice cream and have ice cream cones for dessert. You can put birthday candle in the cones if necessary. Koolaid/iced tea rather than canned drinks or water will save you, too. Also chips and a salsa dip fills people up in advance of dinner. Just think it through and make a list. Prepare what you can yourself, ahead of time. You can do it.

By terry stout (Guest Post)
June 12, 20080 found this helpful

I would start buying the hot dogs ahead and freeze them then you're not hit with the cost at the last minute. I would ask a few close friends or relatives to bring something. I am most always happy to help out. And as far as the buns find a day old bread store or your own store's day old. Bread also freezes well if bought a head.I also buy my macaroni on sell to have on hand for such a time as this. I always buy ahead BBQ sauce on sale also.

By Teresa (Guest Post)
June 13, 20080 found this helpful

Do you have an Aldi's or a Save-a-Lot grocery store near you? They have really good prices on everything.


How about a Gordon's Food? Also, maybe someone in your family can contribute something.

By vikki. (Guest Post)
June 13, 20081 found this helpful

Since you can't "uninvite" anyone, I have a couple of suggestions. I just threw a big graduation party and this is what I did: purchased 2 whole pork shoulders ($1.18lb) from Walmart. Cook them in 2 large crock pot on low overnight. when cool, pull the pork, then chop it. Add your favorite bbq sauce, at least 3-4 bottles, mix it up and store in freezer bags (this can be frozen till ready to use). Heat it up in a crockpot on low or in an oven on 200 degrees. This will make a ton of bbq to feed a huge crowd. Get your buns from the Wonder bread outlet (there is one in Fredericksburg, and you are very close to there). Either shred your own cabbage for slaw or get 3-4 bags already shredded when it is on sale, and mix it with your favorite slaw dressing. You can get hotdogs, chips, drinks or mixes at Aldi's very inexpensively, too. There is one in F'burg, too.
Hope this helps!

By LUCY (Guest Post)
June 13, 20081 found this helpful

I have done this for years. It started when my youngest son was graduating from High School and wanted to make BBQ for a large amount of people. It turned out delicious and easy to make. It makes a lot. Barbecued Beef 5-6 lb roast, can make more, I alway pick out the cheapest roast I can find, 26-oz bottle catsup and 1 quart of ginger ale. Place roast in a large pan: pour catsup and ginger ale over the meat. Cook uncovered at 300 degrees for 6 hours. Separate roast with fork and pile onto buns. This can be frozen to use at a later date. It is easy and delicious. I usually like to put in some onion bits about halfway through, if you like onions. Hope this helps. Enjoy Lucy

By Gertrude (Guest Post)
June 14, 20081 found this helpful

I see some really great ideas here and I have one to add. Instead of drinks, make a Kool-Aid punch. Choose the flavor you want, prepare in a punch bowl or in pitchers, then before serving, add chilled ginger ale or lemon/lime soda. It gives it a refreshing "kick" and makes it go further. Most children and adults like Kool-Aid. You can also add some floating fruit to it to give it a party feel.

Don't buy hot dog buns ahead of time and freeze. Hamburger buns freeze well, but hot dog buns will fall apart quickly. I agree with one of the other ideas. Since your father-in-law invited others that would not normally attend, ask him to help defray the expenses.


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 288 Posts
June 15, 20081 found this helpful

Here is a great Cucumber recipe. It will do nicely for your party.PLUS it will keep any extra in the frig. for several months. So it can be made ahead of time.

From Jane & Tricia
The best & easiest
Refrigerator Cucumbers

6 thinly sliced cucmbers,do not peel
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup vinegar ( white is fine )
1 cup sliced onion or more
1 teaspoon celery seed
Cover and put in refrigerator for 24 hours
before using.
Will keep for several months
in refrigerator

The first time I made these I used
4 english style cucumbers
and doubled the amounts of the rest
of the ingredients. That filled the huge glass
recycled "Farmers" pickel jar from Costco.
Have a great party.
( GG Vi)

By (Guest Post)
June 15, 20081 found this helpful

All I can say is potato salad and macaroni salad. These work very well as fillers at any time. I had my family coming and didn't want to be cooking all the time. So I bought a 5lb bag of potatoes and boiled them with a few eggs added some chopped onion and celery. Then I boiled up some macaroni and added the same with a can of tuna. We ate all weekend off of this and there was plenty for five people to eat for four days of course with meat, too.

By M. Osgood (Guest Post)
June 15, 20080 found this helpful

I see you are in Virginia, so am I! Sam's Club has large cases of frozen hot dogs and hamburgers that are delicious and cost effective. Since my hubby's family is large (he has 6 brothers and sisters that all have children) planning ANY family gathering is a huge undertaking in our households. Buy the store brand buns, too, they can often be had for a dollar or less a package.

Then for the rest, I agree with the above, have everyone bring a dish, bag of chips, beverage, etc. You could even suggest that in lieu of "birthday presents" it's cheaper and practical. Hope this helps!


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 121 Feedbacks
June 16, 20081 found this helpful

I agree with so many of the other folks here. Ask for help. People don't mind bringing something, salads, buns, chips, etc. Don't be proud. Most people like to be included and feel good to help out. Good luck.

By U*u*U (Guest Post)
June 17, 20080 found this helpful

It should be your husbands responsibility to go to his father and tell him that he's expected to contribute to the party budget. Figure out approx how much you would have spent without his extra guests, factor them in, and ask him to contribute the difference. You should NOT have to foot the entire bill.

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2 More Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

June 19, 2018

How much will I need of each item to serve 200?
hot links
baked beans
potato salad


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
June 19, 20180 found this helpful

Person will eat about 1/4 pound of each meat and 1/2 cup of each side dish.

June 19, 20180 found this helpful

Thank you Judy


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
June 19, 20180 found this helpful

This is the website that my friend who caters recommended for helping figure out how to calculate food for a big party (it wasn't a wedding, but she likes this site).

After looking this over and knowing we are "food pushers" (here--take some leftovers home for!) when we did our big party a few years ago, we went 1 1/2 times what they recommended.

I will tell you, if it was just a group of women we may have been able to get away with their suggestion, but it it was a mixed group of women, men and children and we were terrified of not having enough food at a party!

My hubby calls that kind of party a Mary Tyler Moore party after an episode where she didn't have enough food at a party...I don't remember that, but he thinks it is hysterical and never wanted it to happen to us!

We had cute little plastic containers for people to take home leftovers and there were some (mostly the veggie appetizers and bread) but most of the meat and just about all of the desserts were gone!

Good luck!! Enjoy your event!!!

June 19, 20180 found this helpful

Thank you


Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,246 Posts
June 19, 20180 found this helpful

I like to have four ounces of each item per person at my foodie events!

June 20, 20180 found this helpful


June 20, 20180 found this helpful



Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
June 24, 20180 found this helpful

Sounds like you have received several good measurements for amounts of food needed.

  • I would like to add a very informative link for you to check as it has some very good (usually overlooked) tips about serving a large number of people. Be sure to check out the last category.

I recently read something interesting about serving a crowd:
Guests will always eat and drink more at night than during the day.

June 25, 20180 found this helpful


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May 18, 2018

I'm getting married and I'm trying to figure out how much BBQ to get. There will be 191 people coming as of now. All the food for the wedding is really heavy, there's a pasta station with chicken and shrimp, and a grits station with biscuits, sweet potato fries and some other sides.

The people from the BBQ place said I won't need as much because of the heavy food and because we are doing the BBQ as sliders. He recommended 20 pounds and 4 quarts of slaw.


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
May 18, 20180 found this helpful

Allow 1/4 pound of any meat for each person and 3-4 appetizers. Considering all of the other food you are having, I would say the barbecue place is giving you good advice.


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 969 Posts
May 19, 20180 found this helpful

That is exactly what I was going to suggest. With all the other food, you can slack off a bit. Now that said, keep in mind it's a disaster for anyone wearing nice clothing to have anything "red" drop onto them.

I wish you well and hope you will post photos of your big day.


Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
May 19, 20180 found this helpful

BBQ - delicious - but I believe a lot of readers are wondering the same as me - BBQ? at a wedding?

  • But then you know what kind of affair you are having and it is a sure thing - most everybody likes BBQ.
  • One question - how many of the people will opt for BBQ instead of the other food?
  • The amount stated sounds reasonable unless the above happens and if it does your BBQ will disappear quickly.
  • I would make one suggestion - have plenty of large handy wipes available in several places - especially if there are going to be children attending.
  • Just wondering if this is a "stand-up" make your own choice or will there be an area where a sit-down/table is available?
  • If tables are available, I would suggest placing large handy wipes on each table as some of your choices sound like "finger-foods".

Sounds like you are planning a fun wedding and we wish you many happy days to follow.


Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 107 Posts
May 19, 20180 found this helpful

that sounds like good advice. YOu might consider having a few fruit salads or other salads or lighter fare for those who might not like meat or heavy food so much, but it's probably not worth it if it makes your costs go up

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