Watching Super Bowl 51 on TV at home will certainly be cheaper than seeing professional football's biggest event live at NRG Stadium in Houston on Feb. 5. Prices for tickets sold through Ticketmaster start at around $3,400 and go up to more than $15,000 apiece.
Even if you host a Super Bowl party, you won't come close to shelling out that much to feed your friends as they watch the game. Still, the cost of snacks, beverages and decor can put a serious dent in your wallet. Here's how to save money on Super Bowl food and snacks this year.
1. Make Your Party a Potluck
If you want to save money on feeding your friends at your Super Bowl party, ask your friends to bring their favorite snack foods, said Tracie Fobes, founder of PennyPinchinMom.com. "It is not only a great way to save money, it also helps bring a variety of foods to the party."
You can use websites such as SignupGenius.com or PerfectPotluck.com to create a food sign-up list and avoid ending up with 20 platters of nachos. Or you can ask guests to contribute in other ways.
"Even if you want to prepare all the food, you can ask guests to contribute plates, cutlery and paper goods," said Benjamin Glaser, an editor with DealNews.com.
2. Create an Appetizer Challenge
You can put a spin on your potluck party by creating an appetizer challenge, said money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. Ask guests to bring a favorite dish for a chance to win a prize.
"You won't feel so cheesy asking people to bring food with a game like this," she said. "Plus, it adds to the Super Bowl theme."
3. Find a Co-Host
Another way to avoid footing the entire bill for a Super Bowl party is to ask a friend to co-host the event. Perhaps you have a pal who would love to host a party but doesn't have the space or a big-screen TV — but you do. Offer to use your house as the gathering spot and split the cost of food and beverages. As a bonus, you can work together to clean up after the party.
4. Keep the Menu Simple
"If you prefer not to ask guests to bring dishes, it's best to keep the menu simple," Woroch said. "Once you begin creating an elaborate menu of appetizers and dishes, that's when your grocery bill will get out of hand."
For best results, pick just a couple of crowd pleasers and make large batches.
5. Ask Guests to BYOB
Beer is practically mandatory at Super Bowl parties, but providing alcoholic beverages to all of your guests can get expensive. Instead, ask guests to bring their own libations, Fobes said.
"Grab some coolers filled with ice, so your guests can grab another cold one without missing the action," she said.
Or, you could ask guests to bring their favorite spirits to share, said Kyle James, founder of coupon and deal website Rather-Be-Shopping.com.
"By phrasing it this way, it takes away the BYOB stigma of a cheap party thrower," he said. "Plus, it's fun to see what drink people show up with."
6. Buy Alcohol in Bulk
If you plan to supply the alcohol at your Super Bowl party, buy it at a warehouse club, such as Costco or Sam's Club, James said. You might even be able to buy alcohol at Costco without a membership, if your state prohibits the forming of alcohol clubs. The same goes for Sam's Club.
"You'll get the best deal on bulk beer, hard liquor and wine," he said.
7. Opt for Homemade Snacks Over Prepared Food
Sure, it's easy to order snack platters from the deli department of the grocery store or pick up appetizers from your favorite restaurant. But the more you prepare on your own, the more money you'll save.
"Homemade snacks are almost always cheaper than store-bought and prepared food," Glaser said. "This is true even for raw vegetables. Buying a vegetable platter where the snacks have simply been rinsed and chopped can be two or three times as expensive as buying the raw vegetables."
8. Avoid Brand-Name Food and Snacks
Another way to keep down the cost of Super Bowl snacks is to opt for generic rather than brand-name products, Glaser said. Choose store brands such as Costco's Kirkland Signature, Kroger's Simple Truth and Safeway Select. Private-label brands offer popular items at a fraction of the usual price, Glaser said.
9. Buy Select Snacks in Bulk
"Warehouse club members should purchase select snacks in bulk to take advantage of per-unit pricing," said Kendal Perez, a savings expert with CouponSherpa.com. For example, she said you can get a 44-ounce container of Utz Pub Mix for $8.89 at Costco versus $15.88 from Walmart.
However, not all bulk buys are cheaper. Get a better deal on your favorite treat by checking the per-ounce rate.
10. Review Grocery Circulars Now
"Grocers know consumers are gearing up for the big game and put soda, chips, dip and other common game foods on sale," Perez said. So, check your supermarket's weekly circular before Feb. 5 to see if items you want are discounted.
Perez also recommends using Flipp.com to compare circulars and find a grocery store that has the best deals for the items you need.
11. Plan Your Menu Based on Sale Items
Rather than planning your menu and then looking in circulars to see which items on your list are on sale, plan your entire menu based on what is discounted, said Teri Gault, author of "Shop Smart, Save More." In addition to chips and dips, you'll see meats, hot chicken wings and grab-and-go snacks on sale, she said.
12. Find Snack Deals at the Drugstore
Drugstores also have sales on Super Bowl snacks and beverages, Gault said. Usually, you can find store coupons in their circulars that can be stacked with manufacturer coupons for big discounts.
"Expect to find screaming deals on chips, nuts, crackers, sodas, beer and more," she said.
13. Get Cash Back When Buying Snacks
You can cut the cost of your Super Bowl snacks by using a cash-back app. James recommends Ibotta, which is currently offering rebates on chips, dips, beer and other beverages.
"The cool thing with the app is that it doesn't matter what store you shop at for many of the Super Bowl items," he said. "It's free money on stuff you'll be buying anyway, so you might as well take advantage."
The Ibotta app is free to download and lets you search for items you want to see if rebates are available. You can unlock rebates by performing simple tasks, such as watching a short video. After you buy an item, scan the barcode and your receipt. You can get your cash through PayPal, Venmo or gift cards once you've earned at least $20.
14. Use a Slow Cooker
For Super Bowl parties, "the slow cooker is your friend," Glaser said. It allows you to buy tougher, less-expensive cuts of meat that will soften as they cook slowly over several hours, he said.
Plus, it's a great way to prepare inexpensive dips. Search for "slow cooker dip recipes" online to find some with low-cost ingredients. You'll also find frozen meatballs on sale around the Super Bowl, Gault said.
"They're great in the slow cooker with barbecue sauce to build BBQ meatball sandwiches or just to eat with a fork or toothpick," she said.
15. Serve Cheap Chips, Veggies and Dip
Keep snacks simple and cheap by serving dip along with chips and vegetables. Carrots and celery are always cheap, and you'll find a variety of chips on sale around the Super Bowl, Gault said.
For your dip, opt for ranch dressing because it's a favorite and usually on sale for the Super Bowl, she said. Check three places in the grocery store for ranch deals: the refrigerated dairy case, the salad dressing aisle and the produce section. You can also make guacamole, because avocados will be on sale, Gault said.
16. Stock Up on Microwave Popcorn
Microwave popcorn is an easy, affordable Super Bowl snack that you can find on sale at the grocery store. To make it fun, Gault recommends decorating plastic cups with team logos printed from your computer and filling them with the popcorn.
"Right before commercial breaks, pop some into the microwave and keep it coming," she said.
17. Make a Big Batch of Chili
Chili is one of the cheapest Super Bowl foods to make, because it's composed of inexpensive ingredients and yields plenty of servings, Perez said.
"Consider store-brand or generic brands of canned beans and vegetables to save 30 percent to 50 percent compared to name brands," she said, adding that you won't notice a difference in flavor. And save on spices for your chili by buying from bulk bins.
18. Prepare a Taco Station
"Another cheap entree option is a taco station composed of ground meat, grated cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and hot sauce," Perez said. But skip the pre-shredded cheese and chopped vegetables, because they cost up to 40 percent more than a block of cheese and whole vegetables that you can shred and slice on your own, she said.
Also, search for printable coupons on a site such as CouponSherpa.com to save even more on items you buy. "Prep the toppings ahead of time and serve everything in aluminum trays purchased from the dollar store," she said.
19. Make a Sandwich Bar
You can expect supermarket sales on the ingredients you need to set up a sandwich bar, where guests can assemble their own subs, Gault said. For sub roll deals, check two places: the bread aisle and the bakery section. You'll likely find large French bread loaves that you can slice for close to a $1 each, Gault said.
You also can make several long sandwiches, wrap them in plastic and store them in the refrigerator, Gault said. Pull them out and slice as needed for guests.
20. Check Three Places for Wing Deals
If you want to serve hot wings at your Super Bowl party, you're in luck; you can expect to find this snack on sale at the supermarket. However, there are three places in the store where you might have to look: the fresh meat department, the frozen food aisle and the hot service deli, Gault said. "The best sales might not be in all three places," she said.
21. Dress Up Frozen Pizza
"Avoid the expense and wait time associated with ordering pizza on Super Bowl Sunday and make your own," Perez said. You don't have to start from scratch, though.
"Buy a basic cheese or pepperoni pizza in the frozen foods section, and add your own veggie toppings for a hybrid version," Perez said. Manufacturers offer coupons on frozen pizzas, so search CouponSherpa.com for offers, such as $1 off any two Tombstone pizzas.
22. Use Discounted Gift Cards to Buy Pizza
"If you're short on time and outside help, don't hesitate to drop in on your local pizza store," said Rachel Jeger, online marketing manager at CardCash.com.
Many of the major pizza chains offer discounts around the Super Bowl. But you can save even more if you use discounted gift cards to buy the pizza, she said. You can find gift cards for pizza chains selling for less than face value at sites such as CardCash.com. For example, you can get a Papa John's gift card for 11 percent off face value and a Domino's card for 9 percent off on the site now.
23. Make a Football Fruit Centerpiece
You can cut costs by creating a Super Bowl party table centerpiece that's edible. Gault recommends attaching images of footballs printed from your computer to the tops of wooden skewers. Then fill the skewers with whatever fruit is on sale and place them in a vase or stick them into a whole pineapple (after cutting the bottom off so it won't wobble).
24. Stagger the Food
"If you're hosting a party, avoid putting all the food out at once," James said. "If you put it all out at once, most meats, dips and cheeses will go bad. You don't want to waste money by tossing food that's been sitting out too long."
You also don't want guests to gobble up all of the food at the beginning of the game, so you're forced to order pizza when they get hungry again later.
25. Skip Dessert
Remember, you're hosting a Super Bowl party — not a three-course dinner. So, fill your guests up with snack food and leave dessert off the menu to keep costs down. If they're busy grazing on chips, dips and chili, they might not even miss having something sweet to eat.
26. Get Party Supplies at the Dollar Store
"Skip the pricey football-themed decor and party supplies, and pick up items in your favorite teams' colors from the dollar store," Woroch said. You'll find packs of napkins, utensils, paper plates, table covers and streamers for just $1 each.
"Whatever you have left over can be used toward other parties, too, since these items won't be covered in football prints or team logos," she said.
27. Look for Free Printable Decor Online
If you want Super Bowl-themed decor, you don't have to spend a lot on store-bought items. Instead, Woroch recommends looking for free printable images online at sites such as ThreeLittleMonkeysStudio.com.
This blog has images that can be printed on card stock and used as food labels, drink labels and signs to hang throughout the viewing area. You also can find free printable games, such as football tic-tac-toe, to keep kids occupied during the Super Bowl.
28. Skip the Decorations
Your Super Bowl party guests likely will be focusing all their attention on the game. Chances are, they won't even notice whether you've decorated your place in team colors or with football paraphernalia. So, save yourself the time and expense of decorating to focus on preparing snacks instead.
29. Use Dishes and Utensils You Already Have
If your gathering is going to be relatively small, you might be able to get away with using the dishes you already have. Then, you'll avoid the added cost of paper plates and plastic utensils. Yes, you'll have to do the dishes. But you'll likely have one less bag of trash to carry out at the end of the night.
30. Resist the Urge to Buy a New TV
You need a television if you want to host a Super Bowl party. After all, guests need a way to watch the game. But that doesn't mean you have to have the biggest big-screen TV available. Resist the urge to spend hundreds of dollars — or more — to buy a new TV. Instead, only invite as many guests as can comfortably view the game on the TV you already own.