How to Host a Summer Party on a Budget

Publish Date May 10, 2023 6 Minute Read

Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can still host the best and biggest party of the season without missing out on all your favorite summer party foods. From DIY party decorations to meals on a budget, we’ve got summer party ideas you won’t want to pass up.

How Do You Set Up a Summer Party?

The best thing about hosting a summer party is that it’s the perfect time of year to celebrate warm weather, good friends and, of course, all your favorite summer party foods. With a little bit of planning, you can host a big event without spending big bucks. With our suggestions for meals on a budget, you can celebrate and economize with no problem.

While food at a party is always welcomed, keep in mind that it’s the friends and fun that really make the gathering special. Ask yourself if you really need to serve a large meal, or if an “apps and drinks” get-together might be better.

To get started, consider asking guests to make their own contribution to the merrymaking. If everyone brings their favorite drink or appetizer, you’ll end up with plenty of the best finger foods for a party. You could also request that friends with beautiful gardens supply some of the DIY decor in the form of blooming flowers and greens. They’ll be proud of how they’ve pitched in, and you’ll have some no-cost additions to your celebration.

What’s the Cheapest Food to Serve at a Party?

Summer’s bounty is a budget-conscious host’s best friend. Filling up your summer party menu with affordable appetizers and sides can help reduce costs. Not only does everyone love a fresh veggie platter or fruit tray, but seasonal produce is typically less expensive than out-ofseason produce. Buying Kroger Brand items can also save you money over more expensive name brands.

Consider what time of day you want to be celebrating and what kind of food you’ll want to serve. A brunch or early-afternoon gathering will probably be less expensive than one at night, given that you’ll probably be serving lighter fare and might have more guests who choose water or soft drinks over coffee or alcohol.

Speaking of drinks, it’s much less expensive to create a batch of punch or cocktails than to buy individual drinks. Make your own homemade lemonade or iced tea, or try your hand at a signature seasonal cocktail – made in a large, ready-to-serve batch. Learn more in our articles about summer cocktail recipes and building a bar cart.

Summer Appetizers and Sides

Strategies and Recipes

Buying in bulk can be a cost-effective strategy and having a plentiful amount of just a few options can make your buffet seem bigger than it is. Consider showcasing popular and low-cost dishes and sides like corn, pasta and in-season produce. A few of our favorite summer party food recipes are Mexican Street Corn, Summer Pasta Salad and Stir Fried Grilled Summer Vegetables.

Cheaper cuts of meat that do well in a slow cooker are also a smart addition to a budget-friendly game plan. Pay attention to portion size too; it can affect your costs as well. For example, in this recipe for Slow Cooker Ginger Pulled Pork Sandwiches, you don’t need to make the sandwiches full-sized. Instead, use smaller buns and make up a heaping platter of sliders.

Guests love personalizing food to their exact specifications, so consider a “bar” format with budget-friendly options that can feed a crowd. Everyone will be thrilled to see Thai Beef Nachos or Grilled Chicken Nachos set up on a buffet table with plenty of mix-and-match ingredients. The same is true for hot dogs, which are a treasured summer food that certainly doesn’t cost a treasure to serve. Check out our Grilled Seattle Dogs and Chicago Hot Dogs recipes for some cross-country inspiration.

More Easy Summer Recipes

Kroger is your one-stop solution for peak-season favorites during the freshest time of the year. We’ve got all the summer recipes you need, plus plenty of inspiration for summer party foods, summer grilling, and even more party recipes and tips. You can find more about the summer’s freshest finds on our produce page.

Budget-friendly Summer Party Recipes