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 in the past finances have gotten the best of me.
Making a new recipe for the first time for 10 people was not my strongest moment. Through our 6-month spending freeze, I felt a desire 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 presents a season or two before.
We budget for holidays because they come the same time 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. Which means you can entertain on a budget without making it known to all your guests that things are tight.
The best part of going to a dinner party or any type of 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 take you away from building relationships with others.
First, Don’t Make This Mistake
Back in the day when my husband and I were both working full time and it was just the two of us I would pick all recipes that were new and go to the store and grab all those ingredients. We would eat a new dish four times a week.
I would buy something that I would use a teaspoon for in that recipe and then not use it for months later.
Then I realized the amount of money you can save when you plan your meals to items that you have in your pantry and on sale.
The beauty of technology for preparing meals is that if you don’t have an ingredient you can almost always find a substitute for it online.
Say you need taco seasoning?! You shouldn’t have to 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 just means you can substitute.
Google things like- spice to use in place of cilantro- usually, you can substitute parsley.
So if you are living life on a budget and want to entertain on a budget here are 15 Simple Tips to Entertain on a budget and have more time with your guests.
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 money wisely when you don’t know how much money you have to spend. A budget can easily be done by just taking 10 minutes to figure out how much money you have leftover after all bills are paid for the week.
Then thinking about other things you need that week/month and realistically seeing the amount of money you have left.
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 then you can still entertain but do it the same time every year. For example, you host Fourth of July. This way you have a year to plan and watch for sales and gather items you need.
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.
Limit number of guests
It is easy to get carried away with wanting everyone to enjoy Johnny’s 1st birthday. Ask yourself what are your financial goals and does having this many guests fit within your budget? If not you will have to make the hard decisions of who to invite. If you are having a hard time making a decision ask yourself- What is the reason for this event? Is it for the family to witness the first birthday? Celebrating a promotion at work? A get together to reconnect with friends?! Etc. When you know why you are having a party you’ll know the audience that needs to be there.
Serve smaller portions
If it is a smaller gathering 10 or less don’t be afraid to serve everyone. This way you can control portion size making sure 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 and a side don’t worry you can wow them and fill their bellies with a killer dessert! There are hundreds of desserts you can serve for less than a $1 a serving! If you are terrified of baking, cupcakes are always an easy dessert that you can frost and top with something special.
Ask Guests to bring a side
There is no shame in asking guests to bring a side dish. There are plenty of people who 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 a variety of cooking styles as well. If you want to keep foods that pair well together be specific when asking for a guest to bring a dish, but not too specific. For example, You could ask for someone to bring a vegetable, or fruit dish. 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 really want to serve something special try jazzing up 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 cheap and lasts a long time even with popcorn lovers in your house. You can always sprinkle parmesan cheese or cinnamon and sugar if you want to have 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! Love that! Join Amazon Prime Music – The Only Music Streaming Service with Free 2-day Shipping – 30-day Free Trial
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 a 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 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 that are great prices: BJs, Aldi, Buy Local Meat and split with a friend/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 you have around your home to make a free centerpiece.
Tip: Set aside some time to plan and then create. If you are pinched for time forget a centerpiece. Light some candles around the house and use 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!
GET A MEAL PLANNING APP TO ELIMINATE HOURS AND MONEY WASTED!
Homemade spaghetti sauce with homemade garlic bread is an instant comfort for many! Pasta is VERY Affordable as we can get boxes for less than a $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!