Parties for the Budget Minded

Being on a budget shouldn’t stop you from entertaining this holiday season. With a little planning and ingenuity you can throw a great together. Here are things I always keep in mind-

Serve Food You Can Eat Later
Okay, I’m guilty of this one, making too much food and ending up with leftovers. Not just any leftovers, but sometimes food that I can’t ‘recycle’. I know I’m never going to shake this habit so now I plan ahead. What could I serve that could be used for other meals after the party’s over? Cold cuts and things like baked chicken could be turned into sandwiches or even fillings for omelets.
How about the vegetable platter with the leftover carrots or celery, etc.? They can be added to soups, salads, even roasted, or turned into veggie stock, frozen and used in the New Year.
Leftover dips make ideal substitutes for things like butter and mayonnaise. And leftover chips and bread can be put into the blender to make homemade breadcrumbs. And if you’ve got flavored chips they make a tasty topping for casseroles and baked pasta dishes.

What’s On Sale? What Does Double Duty?
One of the best things about the holiday season is supermarkets slash prices on lots of things from crackers and chips to more expensive items like shrimp. Even things like fresh pineapple that you don’t usually think of as party food is on sale. My local store was selling them for $2.55. They work as a centerpiece and you can eat them after the festivities are over. Pick up the store flyer or go to their Web site and check out the specials of the week. Plan you menu around those items and save yourself some money.

Buy in Bulk
One way to save money is to serve a buffet. Something else that usually goes on sale in December is value packs of items like chicken wings, meatballs. All foods that can fill a buffet table for a lot less.

The Pasta Party
Just about every guest asks what he or she can bring along to a party? This idea takes care of your response and also takes a lot of pressure off you. Ask each guest to bring along his or her favorite pasta sauce. You supply three or four different pastas, a salad and bread and each guest arrives with the ready-made sauce.

A Recipe Swap Party
And speaking of homemade recipes, you’ve heard of cookie swap parties during the holidays, how about throwing a recipe swap one? Each person arrives with a homemade dish along with copies of the recipe. Everyone gets to take home leftovers and recipes for their favorites of the evening.

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