The Cost of a Backyard BBQ in Every State

Written By Emily Jones
Last updated June 29, 2020

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Food + Drink
June 29, 2020

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

After a few months of COVID-19 hibernation, extroverts across the U.S. are itching to congregate in safe, socially-distanced gatherings outdoors, but how much would such a gathering set you back? The food, beverage, and supply costs of a backyard BBQ can vary quite a bit from state to state, especially since meat prices have spiked in certain regions due to COVID-19’s impact. Therefore, the team at SimpleThriftyLiving have put our heads together to determine the cost of a backyard BBQ for ten people in every state.   

We scraped the prices for cheeseburgers, hotdogs, sides, beverages, and paper supplies from local Walmart retailers across the U.S. and took the sum of all items to find the average cost of a backyard cookout in each state. We compiled prices for each item in quantities that would accommodate a 10-person party, which is a safe enough number for staying 6 feet apart, according to the CDC. The full list of cookout items analyzed is as follows:

Cheeseburger items:

  • 85% lean/15% fat ground beef, 1 lb (x3)
  • Great Value Hamburger Buns (x2)
  • Kraft Singles American Slices
  • Heinz Tomato Ketchup
  • French’s Classic Yellow Mustard
  • Hellmann’s Mayonnaise Real Mayo
  • Sweet Onion
  • Tomatoes on the Vine
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Vlasic Ovals Hamburger Dill Chips Pickles

Hot dog items: 

  • Ball Park® Beef Hot Dogs
  • Ball Park Hot Dog Buns (x2)

Beverage items

  • Bud Light Beer, 24-Pack Cans
  • White Claw Seltzer Variety Pack, 12-Pack Cans 
  • Coca-Cola Soda Soft Drink, 12-Pack Cans 

Side items: 

  • Seedless Watermelon
  • Fresh Corn on the Cob (x10)
  • Bush’s Original Baked Beans (x3)
  • Popsicles; Orange, Cherry, Grape

Paper/plastic items: 

  • Great Value Everyday Paper Plates
  • Dizzy Dots Paper Beverage Napkins
  • Great Value Premium Assorted Clear Cutlery

The Walmart prices have been averaged in up to 10 zip codes in each state. The zip codes chosen are a mix of urban and rural areas to get a representation of different parts of each state. The numbers reflect prices only, taken from the retailers, and do not reflect any additional taxes or fees. These also do not account for the cost of cooking or other preparation.

Most Expensive

The five most expensive states for a backyard BBQ are Alaska ($137.74), Hawaii ($131.46), Wyoming ($115.46), Tennessee ($112.51), and South Dakota ($110.48). Substantially higher meat, produce, fruit, and beer prices were the culprits for a higher overall bill in these states.

In Alaska, the average 24-pack of domestic beer will set you back $31.21 and Hawaii’s average price for a 12-count White Claw Seltzer variety pack is a whopping $18.99. Alabama also makes our list of the top 10 most expensive states for a BBQ due, in part, to their ground beef prices soaring from $4.68 to $6.47 between 2019 and 2020, a 38% increase. 

Least Expensive

The five least expensive states for a backyard BBQ are South Carolina ($99.03), Illinois ($100.19), Utah ($102.28), Michigan ($102.29), and Virginia ($102.87), where throwing a 10-person outdoor shindig is totally achievable for around $100. 

While on the topic of purchasing meat and pork products for cheeseburgers and hotdogs, we also wanted to explore which states’ meat prices were impacted the most between 2019 and 2020 due to COVID’s impact. Therefore, we compared the current ground beef prices at local Walmart retailers around the U.S. to the 2019 ground beef prices of the exact same items that we had previously found in our 2019 Hamburger Study

Many of the states where beef prices increased the most between 2019 and 2020 were located within the Midwest, Great Plains, and Deep South regions, in addition to North Carolina, Alaska, and Hawaii. Within these regions, beef prices increased significantly, between 35% and 62%.

If you live in one of the states where it is more expensive for backyard BBQs, never fear! There are still many ways you can save money when shopping. Follow these tips to save money or get some back from your purchases:

  • Take advantage of credit card rewards:

    Some credit cards will give you up to 5% cashback when you shop at grocery stores. This percentage might not seem like a lot, but it will add up and could close the margin between your state and one where it is less expensive to have a BBQ. Be sure you always pay your credit card bill on time so you avoid accruing interest.

  • Look for coupons and sales:

    Every major grocery store offers sales, so make sure to check out the weekly ad in-store or online. Use apps like Flipp or Shopular to find all of the sales in your area. Additionally, look for manufacturer or store coupons you can apply on top of the sale price. Many grocery retailers now offer coupons you can find on their app or website.

  • Track your spending:

    You may be overspending in ways you aren’t even aware of. Use apps such as Clarity to track where your money goes. You’ll be able to set budgets and better see how much that daily takeout or monthly subscription box is costing you. Then allocate some of that saved money for a summer cookout with friends instead.

A fun, outdoor BBQ with loved ones doesn’t have to break the bank this summer. If you’re tactful with your spending on food and beverages, you may even end up with extra money to put towards bonus party items, like a corn hole set or that inflatable pool you’ve been eyeing. 

About the Author

Emily Jones

Emily Jones has been writing for personal finance blogs for over 5 years. Her specific interests include, budget travel, living well on a budget, and deal finding. While in graduate school Emily was forced to find creative ways to be able to afford to travel. Now that she has a family, her affection for travel and shopping continue, but on a very tight budget. Emily enjoys sharing her deal finding tricks with her readers.

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