Dining out is something we all enjoy. Though it's nice to have someone make exactly what we're in the mood for and then clean up our mess, this kind of service comes with a price. Not only is eating out as a couple expensive, but once we start adding our friends and family's plates, drinks, appetisers, desserts and more, the bill is usually way more than we expected – or budgeted for.
However, it is possible have a fun and lively social life and get together with friends and family without spending huge amounts of cash. Here are some helpful tips on how you can throw the perfect dinner party on a budget...
Creative menus that feed many
If you’re entertaining a number of guests, you should plan a menu that means one dish can feed many. Creating a theme gives you the licence to make large-volume dishes and will also add an extra element to your evening. For example, you could create a ‘Winter Warmer Menu’ with delicious soups and hearty casseroles or slow cooked stews with soft crusty bread rolls, followed by a large apple crumble.
And when the summer comes you can have a big barbeque with lots of salads, chopped vegetables and dips, homemade burgers, corn on the cob and hotdogs.
By avoiding expensive cuts of meat – especially for individual dishes like steaks, pork chops and chicken breasts, as well as seafood, you’ll be able to keep costs down and bellies full.
Ask people to contribute
If you’re being nice enough to host the gathering, don’t feel shy about asking guests to contribute to the menu so that you can all share the costs. If you’re making the main dish, you could ask someone to bring a starter and another to bring the dessert.
Then if a friend hosts the next dinner, you’ll be able to help them keep the cost down by bringing a dish too.
Desserts can often be expensive to make, so if you are feeding lots of people, you may find buying shop bought desserts more cost effective.
If you do want to bake your own, cupcakes and basic Victorian sponges are relatively easy and inexpensive to make.
Alternatively, if you want to add some extravagance to your dinner party, you could use a chocolate fountain. All you’ll have to do is buy some good quality melting chocolate, fruit, marshmallows and cocktail sticks.
Buying alcohol for everyone is expensive and will account for a large part of your budget. So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, make sure people bring their own alcohol to the party. Most people will bring their own alcohol anyway, but it’s always better to let people know that the party is BYOB (bring your own bottle!).
Make sure you have enough cutlery for your party otherwise one of your guests could end up trying to eat their soup with a fork or a salad with a spoon! You can either buy items such as napkins, plastic cups and disposable plates in bulk, or purchase goods when they’re on sale.