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Party Food on a Budget

By: Laura Farrant - Updated: 25 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Pot Luck Budget Organic Inexpensive

Hosting a dinner party is a great way to get your friends to mingle and to have fun. However, it can also be a great opportunity for you to spend more than you can afford. Don't worry. There are simple ways to avoid having to dip into your savings account. Follow these tips and you can guarantee that skimping on cost will not mean skimping on taste.

First Things First

If money is an issue, preparation and planning is key. Try and determine, as much as possible, what your budget is and stick to it. If the budget means that not everyone can be invited then so be it. Those you simply cannot invite this time round will benefit the next time that you choose to host an event. It may sound like a stern approach but by limiting the numbers of guests you will be able to maximise the enjoyment of those you have chosen to attend.

Menu Management

We have already mentioned above that preparation is key. This preparation should involve a close look at your three planned courses. Scallops, steak and lobster are clearly not going to be on your chosen menu and neither are dishes that require the inclusion of countless ingredients. Remember the following mantra: Keep it simple. Such dishes not only taste good they will also cost less.

Think about stocking up on items like rice, potatoes, pasta, or beans. These ingredients make inexpensive side dishes. Add vegetables and spices to these bulky food items and you have some simple, easy-to-prepare and very tasty courses.

Check Out

Now is the time to get to your local supermarket. Cruise the produce aisles and see what vegetables are in season and what the special offers are. Do this a week in advance, pick up the bargains and, if necessary, freeze them until you need them for the event. This is an especially wise move when it comes to meat and fish. Pick up cuts which are being offered at enticing promotional prices and integrate them into your menu.

If you are located near a good quality and reasonable farmers market, make sure you pay a visit. The produce here is frequently organic and of excellent quality. Better still; the prices are often competitive. If you can afford to, splash out on a key ingredient here - a prime cut of meat from an organic farm will enhance even the most basic dinner party.

What you want to avoid, at any costs, is any last-minute purchases or panic buying. By keeping your eye on the supermarket and the local farmers market, you can reduce your chances of making any expensive errors.

Atmosphere on a Budget

Whether it is a dinner party or a drinks party and you intend to serve food, keep in mind that presentation cannot be underestimated. As with the food, the presentation does not have to drain your resources so don't skimp on arrangement. Candles and inexpensive flowers go a long way in achieving an elegant setting. Make use of interesting colours and textures - mix old and new glasses and plates and create an eclectic feel for the event and will display your food beautifully.

If all Else Fails…

If your budget is starting to hit its limits consider throwing a pot luck party. Get a guest to bring a dish of their choice. Not only is this a great way to get everyone involved in the event it is an astute money-saving option for you.

Budget entertaining is not always easy. The spontaneity is often reduced but try not to concern yourself too much with the overall cost of the evening. Do the best you can do with the budget that you have. Only the most ungrateful guest will be analysing the event in terms of cost. The majority will simply be enjoying the occasion and make sure you follow their lead and have a great time.

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