/ Lifestyle

Feeding a crowd on a budget

Whether it’s a Thanksgiving feast, Christmas dinner or a summer BBQ, hosting a big meal is a great way to connect with family and friends who you may not get to see very often over something everyone enjoys: good food.

The cost of hosting a large dinner for family and friends can make hosting these meals a stressful occasion instead of a joyous one. But they don’t have to be!


 Let’s look at some of our favourite tips on how to feed your crowd on a budget:


Take inventory


You may find that foods you only make around the holidays require ingredients that you only use at that time. For example, you may make a honey glaze for a ham over the holidays, and then the honey just sits in the pantry (or stuffing, or cranberry sauce – etc.). If you aren’t using those ingredients it can be easy to forget you have them, and before you know it you’re out buying ingredients you already have at home. Before you go to the store, or even make a grocery list, take time to go through your cupboards and see what you already have.


Shop the sales and price match


When it’s a relatively major holiday most grocery stores will offer staples such as hams or turkeys on sale. But make sure you’re also getting the best deals when it comes to your sides. It can be tempting to buy everything in one place, but that might not necessarily be the best for your budget. Before shopping, check out the flyers and see which stores have the items you need on sale, or which stores will price match so you can save a few extra bucks.


Plan ahead


If you know you’re going to be hosting a major family meal or holiday in your home, there’s no reason not to start planning early. By choosing and planning your menu ahead of time, you can spread out the cost of the ingredients you’ll need over several weeks, instead of making it one big sum all at once. For example, start by buying any non-perishables a few weeks in advance, then purchase items that can be frozen the next week, and then the week of you simply need to buy any fresh ingredients.

 

Buy in bulk


Particularly if you just need small portions of spices or seasonings for a recipe, there’s no need to purchase a whole container. Many bulk stores have spices and baking ingredients available, so you can purchase only the amount you know you’ll need.


Make it a potluck


A potluck is great way to not only save money on a big family meal, but also to enjoy all of your favourite dishes. Does your mom make the best green bean casserole, or your aunt make the best pies? Instead of worrying about trying to mimic someone else’s recipes, see if they’ll bring it themselves. Most people are proud to show off their “signature dish”, and will be only too happy to provide something towards the meal.


BYOB


Providing alcohol can cause the cost of a party to add up fast. Curb those costs by asking guests to bring along a bottle of their favourite wine or spirits to share with the group. You can also make non-alcoholic punches and provide other mixes available so people can create their own masterpieces.


Don’t forget the leftovers


When it’s all said and done and the last guest has left, don’t forget to make use of all those leftovers sitting in your fridge. Leftover turkey can be used in a wide variety of meals, like soups, sandwiches or casseroles. And leftover ham can make for delicious soups, sandwiches or even quiches. By stretching out the leftovers you can reduce the amount of groceries you need to buy the week after your feast, which can help your budget rebound.


By following these tips, we hope you’ll find hosting your next family meal is an occasion of joy and laughter without the stress and concern over your budget. Bon appetit!