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BBQ Party Calculator

Created by Álvaro Díez and Marcin Manias
Reviewed by Bogna Szyk and Jack Bowater
Last updated: Jan 18, 2024


The weather is getting better daily – summer is finally upon us. Maybe you are a high-schooler counting down the days until your summer vacation starts or an office worker crossing the days off on your calendar in anticipation of a well-deserved holiday. Why wait to relax? You only need one somewhat sunny day to throw the perfect BBQ, and we are here to help you plan it. If you live in the United States, throwing a BBQ is a great way to celebrate July 4 – Independence Day. If you're British, it's an opportunity to celebrate that one sunny day a year.

In this article, you will find tips on how to plan the perfect BBQ, how much food to bring, how the rest of the world hosts their BBQs and more. By the way, if you're planning on renting a tent, check out the tent size calculator to find the proper tent size and space you'll require.

How to plan your perfect BBQ

Hosting your own BBQ is an opportunity to have a great time with friends. Seeing their happy faces as they tuck into the perfectly cooked burger you prepared can be very rewarding. But it's not all fun & games – you may have had a hard time in the past figuring out how much pizza to order, so buying the right amount of food for a whole gathering can be stressful. But don't let that discourage you! If you want to impress your friends with a blissful and bountiful BBQ, where everything goes off without a hitch, we are here to help :)

The best way to start planning your very own BBQ is with a general checklist of important things to do:

  • Pick a time and place – start with the basics; if you have a garden or a backyard easily available, you are all set for a small gathering. If not, check locally for public spots where an open fire is allowed. Don't forget to check the weather in advance - pick a sunny day! One place we would strongly advise against is on a balcony of an apartment complex. Not only is the smoke an inconvenience to your neighbors, but you will also most likely get into trouble for breaking fire-safety regulations.
  • Secure funding - think about how much money you want to spend on the BBQ. If you are planning a big event, you may want to ask the guests to chip in by bringing a dish or paying you back.
  • Invite (preferably hungry) guests – an essential, unless you want all the food to yourself.
  • Prepare a shopping list of food and drinks – the meat is the star of the show - pork, beef, sausages, chicken - all the usual subjects. Enter what you want to eat into our calculator, and we will figure out the amounts for you. Don't forget the sides, garnishes, sauces, buns, and vegetables, though! Having a diverse choice of ingredients will allow everyone to make their perfect burger, hot dog, or salad.
  • Prepare the BBQ equipment - you need something to grill all of this great food on! You can choose from a portable grill or a grill using charcoal or gas. You'll also need some tongs to grab and flip the meat. Think about who will be responsible for barbecuing the food - it should be a person with prior experience. You may use the BBQ grill size calculator to check whether your grill is big enough for the number of people you invited!
  • Prepare serving – something to eat on and with: plates, utensils & cups. Don't forget a blanket to sit on!
  • Think about cleaning – having paper towels & garbage bags at the ready can make cleaning up a whole lot easier.
  • Remember about safety measures – when dealing with an open fire, you should always be responsible and have a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit close at hand. Don't forget to protect against the scorching sun with some sunscreen, and if the party is going to extend into the evening, pack a flashlight or secure another form of lighting.
  • Entertainment – think about other activities you can do at your BBQ; even if you only plan to sit, talk, and stuff your face with tasty grilled treats, don't forget about the music! When you are done eating (who is ever done at a BBQ? Not me!), why not play a game of beer pong.
Swedish grill party

How much will you eat?

When you are arranging your BBQ, the most important question is: "how much food do I need to buy and prepare?" Our calculator will help you with this in three easy steps:

  1. First, enter the number of adults and children that will be eating.

  2. Select how hungry the crowd is. This will adjust the total amount of food needed, so the calculations are as accurate as possible. Seriously, please don't eat the cutlery.

  3. Lastly, select how much of each type of foodstuff you want. Note this will not change the total amount of food. It will switch around the proportions of each type based on your preferences.

Based on what you selected, our calculator will show you the following results:

  • The total amount of food you need to buy, based on the number of guests and hunger level.
  • The composition of your BBQ, i.e., how much of each type of food you need.
  • Total budget – a rough estimation of how much you will spend, based on the average price of meat and veg for standard BBQ products.

The price does not include any additional sides and sauces, and as prices vary from region to region, take this figure as a guide only. If you are going for the highest quality meat on the market, such as beef brisket or tenderloin, the real cost could end up being much higher.

grill

Barbecue and grill parties around the world

For thousands of years, humans have used fire to cook their food. BBQ, in its modern incarnation, can be traced to the Caribbean, where the Taino tribe grilled their food on a raised wooden grate - a "barbacoa" (you can read more about it in the article "What's the History of the Barbecue?"). "Barbacoa" first appeared in print in 1526, and the rest is history.

Classic BBQ imagery is associated with the United States, and, indeed, it is extremely popular there. It is a tradition at the heart of the country – BBQs have been happening on American soil since the colonial era. Nowadays, Independence Day is celebrated as much with fireworks and parades as it is with picnics and barbecues. Notably, even US presidents make a BBQ part of the White House's
celebrations
.

Similar practices of grilling food can be found all over the world. Tikka, an Indian dish, is where boneless cuts of meat are marinated and grilled. So, if you want to spice up your BBQ party, try one of these tikka recipes.

Around the globe, Korean BBQ restaurants are rising in popularity, where you can experience Korea's best dishes. One fun aspect is that some Korean BBQ restaurants have a grill in the middle of the table. This provides a unique experience of sitting and socializing right beside your grilling meal.

from left to right: classic bbq, tikka, korean grill
From left to right: Classic BBQ, Tikka, Korean grill

Grill responsibly

Enjoying your BBQ to the max is important, and we hope our calculator helps you to do that. However, a BBQ puts a lot of strain on the environment – you produce a lot of carbon dioxide just by burning fuel. So, to minimize your impact, we highly recommend you follow the tips below. Some will also help you stay safe and sound while you're grilling - you wouldn't want anyone to get injured, would you? ;)

Be sure to:

  • Have the BBQ in an area that permits an open fire;
  • Take proper safety precautions - have a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit ready in case of an emergency;
  • Operate the grill carefully;
  • Choose paper plates and cups or even reusable utensils over plastic ones - it helps to reduce your plastic footprint. Use our plastic footprint calculator to learn more; and
  • Clean up after yourself and gather all the trash.
Gif burning grill

FAQ

How much meat do I need for a ten person BBQ?

For ten persons with a good (but not enormous) appetite, you will need about 1.8 lb of beef (6 small steaks), 1.4 lb of pork (6 boneless pork chops), 2 lb of chicken (13 wings), and 2.5 lb of sausages (13 sausages).

How much meat per person do I need for a BBQ party?

Check the table to see the estimated meat portions for an adult and a child with a decent appetite.

Type of meat

Amount (lb)

Adult

Child

Beef

0.18

0.09

Pork

0.14

0.07

Vegetables

0.7

0.35

Chicken

0.2

0.1

Sausages

0.25

0.13

How do I throw a BBQ party on a budget?

To organize a BBQ party on a budget:

  1. Don't buy too much food - Use the BBQ calculator to estimate the amount of food you will need.
  2. Prepare salads loaded with carbohydrates - potato salad, rice salad, or pasta salad. They'll be an excellent, filling side dish, and the ingredients are cheaper than meat.
  3. In a supermarket, search for the more affordable sauce options.
  4. Prepare a dessert - it will be delicious and filling and cost you less than meat.
  5. Organize a potluck - prepare some dishes, but ask the guests to prepare their favorites as well.

What do I bring to a BBQ party as a guest?

The best option to bring to a BBQ is salad:

  1. Filling carbohydrate salads - such as potato or pasta salad;
  2. Green salads - tomato-cucumber-avocado salad, or broccoli salad;
  3. Fruit salads - watermelon and feta cheese salad, sweet, creamy fruit salad (it's more of a dessert than a salad);
  4. Meat and fish salads - tuna salad, chicken salad, salmon salad;
  5. Bean salads - lentil salad, baked beans, and bacon salad
  6. You can also ask the host what they need/want.
Álvaro Díez and Marcin Manias
About the BBQ
How many adults?
How many kids?
How hungry are you?
We will eat, but not much
Want beef?
Yes, please
Want pork?
Yes, please
Want veggies?
Yes, please
Want chicken?
Yes, please
Want sausages?
Yes, please

So you will need...

Beef
burgers (patty + bun)
beef in the bbq

4.2 - 6.3$

Pork
pork chops (with bone)
pork in the bbq

2.7 - 4.1 $

Veggies
lb
veggies in the bbq

4.6 - 6.8$

Chicken
wings
chicken in the bbq

1.6 - 2.3$

Sausages
hot dogs (w/ bun)
sausages in the bbq

1.6 - 2.5$

 

Estimated budget: 15 - 22 $

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