Looking through cookbooks is something that has always soothed me. Just before I would go into labor, I would be paging through an old cookbook. I enjoy cooking for others and trying new recipes, but finances have gotten the best of me in the past.
Making a new recipe for the first time for ten people was not my strongest moment. However, through our 6-month spending freeze, I wanted to have a dinner party.
Even when we only had $25 a week to spend. If you have frugal in your bones, you know that having people over means there will be a cost.
Yet as resourceful people, we are always prepared. We stock up on goods when they are at a low sale price. We buy a season or two before.
We budget for holidays because they come simultaneously every year; we don’t get worked up about back-to-school supplies because we reuse what we have and stocked up on clothes all summer.
So I decided to entertain on a crazy low budget. This means you can entertain on a budget without informing your guests that things are tight.
The best part of going to a dinner party or any get-together is the mood the hosts create.
Remember, you can always feed your family and friends for less.
This week I learned that while you are on a spending freeze, you can still host parties. You can feed your family and friends for less while on a budget. Don’t let the stress of money distract you from building relationships with others.
First, Don’t Make This Mistake
Back in the day, when my husband and I were working full time, just the two of us, I would pick all-new recipes and go to the store and grab all those ingredients. Then, we would eat a new dish four times a week.
I would buy something I would use a teaspoon for in that recipe and not use it months later.
Then I realized the amount of money you can save when you plan your meals to items in your pantry and on sale.
The beauty of technology for preparing meals is that you can almost always find a substitute online if you need an ingredient.
Say you need taco seasoning?! It would help if you didn’t run to the store to get the packet. If you have your pantry stocked, you can make your own.
And who says that you can’t improvise? Not having the exact seasoning in a recipe means you can substitute.
Google things like- spice to use in place of cilantro- usually, you can substitute parsley.
So if you are living on a budget and want to entertain, here are 15 Simple Tips to Entertain on a budget and have more time with your guests.
Grab my meal planner below and use code TIKTOK to get 50% OFF!
Below you will learn some tips to be a host while not spending a ton of money.
Know your budget.
First, with so many financial decisions, you can’t spend wisely when you don’t know how much you must spend. Second, you can easily budget by taking 10 minutes to figure out how much you have left after all bills are paid for the week.
Then, think about other things you need that week/month and realistically see how much money you have left.
- READ OR PIN- 11 Reasons You’re Failing at Your Budget
Make it a tradition
If your funds are in a place where you can’t have a random get-together a few days or even a week or two in advance, you can still entertain but do it at the same time every year.
For example, you host the Fourth of July. This way, you have a year to plan and watch for sales and gather needed items.
Make a Cute DIY Centerpiece
A festive centerpiece can add beauty without breaking the bank. If you’re feeling crafty, use an old window with holiday lights instead of flowers or candles.
But if money’s tight, try making this DIY thanksgiving centerpiece from fabric scraps and toilet paper rolls instead!
Have these 10 pantry staples.
You can’t start a meal without the basic kitchen needs. Here is a post I did with must-have pantry items if you need to shop on a budget, learn how to make a perfect grocery list in under 10 mins.
- 25 Cheap Snacks to Buy in Bulk
- How to Make Crocktober Work for Your Budget
- How Does the FlashFood App Work?
- My Weekly Grocery Shopping Trip & Meal Menu
- How to Stock Your Fridge on a Budget
Limit the number of guests
It is easy to get carried away with wanting everyone to enjoy Johnny’s 1st birthday. Ask yourself your financial goals and whether having this many guests fits your budget.
If you do, you will have to make the hard decisions of who to invite. If you have difficulty deciding, ask yourself- What is the reason for this event? Is it for the family to witness the first birthday?
Are you celebrating a promotion at work? A get-together to reconnect with friends?! Etc. When you know why you are having a party, you’ll see the audience that needs to be there.
Serve smaller portions
If it is a smaller gathering of 10 or fewer, don’t be afraid to serve everyone. This way, you can control portion size, ensuring everyone gets a little of everything!
Of course, ask if they would like a serving of everything you offer, and don’t take offense if a polite no thank you is said!
Serve an Amazing Dessert
If your budget leaves your main course to just a protein aside, don’t worry. You can wow them and fill their bellies with a killer dessert!
You can serve hundreds of desserts for less than $1 a serving! If you are terrified of baking, cupcakes are always an easy dessert that you can frost and top with something special.
Always Look for Free Turkey Promotions
This time of year, at least two stores in your area are bound to offer free Turkey promotions. Every year BJ’s has a FREE Turkey promo here and in some other stores.
Turkeys tend to be super cheap right before thanksgiving ( here is a roundup of prices), so buy two. Of course, if you plan on hosting a dinner again, you can always serve a turkey.
Ask Guests to bring a side
There is no shame in asking guests to bring a side dish. Many people enjoy baking something and sharing it at other people’s parties. This is a great way to take the stress off the person hosting and give various cooking styles.
If you want to keep foods that pair well together, be specific when asking a guest to bring a dish, but not too detailed. For example, You could ask someone to get a vegetable or fruit dish. However, instead of asking could you bring a mushroom risotto?
Skip the Alcohol
If you are on a tight budget, alcohol can be the first item to go. Sure one or two drinks are nice with a dish, but it can kill your budget quickly.
If you want to serve something unique, try jazzing up the juice and making it into a punch or jazzing up apple cider by adding in oranges & lemons.
Serve Popcorn as Appetizer
Hey, the bars have it going on when they serve free popcorn/peanuts! Popcorn is a great snack to have out that is affordable! I highly recommend an air popper! The price of kernels is low and lasts long, even with popcorn lovers in your house.
You can always sprinkle Parmesan cheese, cinnamon, and sugar if you want something special. This entertains your guests and keeps you on a budget!
Use a Free Music service to set the tone
No one likes a quiet room when they are arriving at a party. Music sets the mood, so choose a channel that fits the purpose of your gathering!
We use Amazon Prime Music or Pandora- Prime Music has a 30-day free trial and has ZERO commercials!
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Buy Extra Turkeys
The best sale on Turkeys is after Thanksgiving/Christmas. Buy and keep in the freezer. Our local BJ’s club had Fresh Butterball Turkeys marked down to $0.49/lb after Thanksgiving.
This is a time to grab several. Cooking up a whole turkey or chicken is affordable, and you can stretch the meat.
Also, consider ground turkey as this is meat you can get relatively cheap too.
Watch the sale ads
Watch the ad flyers for meat. If you know your son’s birthday party is coming up in a couple of months, start watching the meat sales ahead of time and grabbing when they are at their lowest price.
Save a lot has great sale prices on meat frequently. Check out my price comparison for Aldi’s Vs. Bjs Meat
Other stores with great prices: BJs, Aldi, Buy Local Meat and split with friends/family.
Use what you have
Not just in your pantry but for table decor. Most of the time, I start with a centerpiece in the table with appetizers out. Then as the meal progresses, I will move the centerpiece away to make room for the food to take center stage.
Use Pinterest to gather jars and things around your home to make a free centerpiece.
Tip: Set aside some time to plan and then create. If you are pinched for a time, forget a centerpiece. Instead, light some candles around the house and use them in the middle instead. The point of a great hosting party on a budget is to be relaxed and enjoy your time.
READ OR PIN: FRUGAL FALL DECOR ITEMS FROM DOLLAR STORES
Use your Crockpot
Cheaper cuts of meat tend to be tougher. Using your slow cooker will keep the meat moist and tender, and you will spend less time in the kitchen! Check out all these Crockpot meals here.
GET A MEAL PLANNING APP TO ELIMINATE HOURS AND MONEY WASTED!
Or now your Ninja Foodi! I’m so in love with mine. You guys see all the things I’m doing here.
Homemade spaghetti sauce with homemade garlic bread is an instant comfort for many! In addition, pasta is VERY Affordable as we can get boxes for less than $1 frequently with coupons.
Places like Aldi and Save a lot usually have boxes for $0.85! Pasta is a great dish to make larger portion sizes on a budget. The pasta sides are endless!
See my recent $60/week grocery hauls here.
“Your budget is your right to say no.” You can’t be a host without hosting. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s not the end of the world; there are plenty of ways to save money and still have an incredible celebration with those closest to you. Check out our other articles for more tips about saving money.
Sunday 2nd of December 2018
Serving on a budget, especially if you have a large family is always a must if you want to be able to entertain I have found. Leftovers are good to have though for the next couple of days. I'm just always afraid of not having enough for people and always have too much. I need to pair down. Its hard though coming from a large family and then having a large family myself then. Its a always learning experience.