Welcoming friends and family into your home and feeding them is one of the most caring, generous, and satisfying things you can do. From birthdays to holidays to random Tuesday nights, throwing a dinner party is a great time all around...until you realize that you spent 3 times what you would have at a restaraunt.
Entertaining in your home does not need to break the bank; hosting an inexpensive dinner party is a very achievable goal. Here are three tips to help you host a dinner party on a budget, and still have an awesome time.
1. Go vegetarian
Serving both a vegetarian starter and main is one way you can save a significant amount of money when hosting a dinner party. Meat is very expensive, so if you can make plant-based meals instead you can easily cut your costs in half! If some of your friends are vegetarian themselves, this also makes your life a whole lot easier as you do not need to make anything special accommodate them.
For starters, pastry is your best friend. It's inexpensive to make and easy to use. It also lends itself to beautifully presented individual portions that make for Instagram-worthy pictures. A simple short crust pastry is essentially just butter and flour made into something delicious. Think about using the pastry to make either a tart or a quiche. Goat's cheese and mixed mushroom or spinach and feta cheese are both classic flavour combinations that will wow your guests. If any of these ingredients are not in season, substitute them for vegetables that are currently less expensive.
As for mains, make a hearty stew or curry. Many people shy away from cooking without meat because they fear that the meatless meal will not be filling enough for themselves and their guests. However, using protein rich legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans will not only leave everyone feeling satisfied –but it will also help you save a lot of money at the grocery store. A chickpea and lentil curry, spiced with cumin and smoked paprika, is easy to make and is so delicious that your guests will not even miss the meat. It's also a one-pot meal, so less stress and cleaning for you.
2. Let your guests help you out
When you invite your friends over for a dinner party, chances are that upon accepting the invitation they will ask, 'What can I bring?' For most of us, our immediate, intuitive answer will be, 'Nothing, no worries!' But if you are trying to host a dinner party on a budget, let your guests help you out a little bit. If they didn't really want to do it then they wouldn't have asked. Telling one guest to bring a salad, and another to bring a dessert can really help you cut down on costs –and time spent in the kitchen too.
3. Cut costs on alcohol
The one way to make hosting a dinner party an expensive affair is to include tons of alcohol. The typical choice for a dinner party would be wine –but a good bottle of wine can be pretty expensive, and when you're buying three or four of them it can start to add up pretty fast. Instead, make one big pitcher of sangria or a cocktail. This still allows you to get turnt while you spend a lot less on alcohol. It may seem like an unorthodox decision not to serve wine with dinner, but I promise you that when your guests see a big jug of minty mojitos they will not be disappointed! This is super easy to make, and it is also an impressive looking beverage to serve to guests.