I love having people over as my family well knows. We’ve had company the last two weekends. But what can be hard is how to feed extra people well and not go over your food budget. Having a plan in place helps me not to be so frantic when the time comes and enjoy it. Here’s how cutting costs in the kitchen for company meals is made easy.
Know Who You‘re Cooking For
First, keep in mind who you’re cooking for. If it’s a family with little children make sure it’s easy to eat and probably not spaghetti. If a ladies luncheon, make it light and low calorie is usually appreciated. Teenagers can be bottomless pits, so make sure you have enough of it and it fills them up. Spaghetti and popcorn for snacks are both filling and cheap. For a special occasion, you might need to eat soup a few nights to stay on budget but look for sales too. There’s a more economical version of what you might like to serve. Also, cheaper cuts of meat can be slow cooked to be tender and taste wonderful.
Favorite Company Meals
I keep a list of favorite company meals. Last Sunday we had Lasagna, garlic bread, salad and Robert Redford dessert. Since lasagna is a heavy meal, I picked a light dessert. And if dinner is light you can have a heavier dessert. Our guests were over after church so the lasagna was something I could put in the oven before church and it was ready when we got home. Other company meals
Pork roast with carrots, potatoes, and onions. You can often get pork roast for a little over a $1 a pound.
BBQ pork butt, coleslaw, and chips
Hot dogs or hamburgers, baked beans and raw veggies, watermelon if it’s summer.
Spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad.
Sausage cut into small chunks slow cooked with potatoes, onions and green beans.
Have a soup bar with a couple kinds of soup and rolls or crackers.
Enchiladas, mexican rice, and refried beans. These can be made ahead and reheated easily.
Baked chicken and rice with broccoli.
Develop a Signature Dessert
Does your family rave anytime you make a certain dessert? Are you asked to bring your cake or cookie recipe over and over? Find your signature dessert so it’s easy, you can make it well, and it’s one less thing for you to worry about. My grandmother always had dessert in her freezer for drop in guests. I knew there would always be angel food cake and butterscotch cookies in there. I try and keep cookies in the freezer for guests but in our house, they don’t last long there. Then branch out and add a few new recipes to try out. You can’t go wrong with chocolate chip cookies, brownies or rice crispy treats.
Have you ever had someone over for dinner and wondered, “Did I serve this the last =time they were here?” I keep index cards for guests to help with this dilemma. On it, I put their name, any allergies or dislikes, the date they were here and what I served. That way the next time they came I served something different. I also put notes on the back of things I want to remember, kids ages, prayer requests, etc.
Enjoying Your Company Meals
Now that you have a plan in place for the meal, enjoy it. Don’t worry if something isn’t done. Make sure the bathroom is clean and close the other doors. Make as much ahead as possible so you don’t have to hurry. Use paper plates if you want, they have really pretty ones now or you can always get them at the Dollar store. Plan an activity or game for after the meal and have fun.