Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wrinkled, but who cares?

How do you practice hospitality without going over budget?

Let go of expectations. Let the wrinkles show.

You do see friends occasionally, right? Instead of meeting at McDonald's playland, treat them to lunch...for less than you'd pay for a couple of Happy Meals and a big Diet Coke:
  • Buy eggs and cheese for a simple quiche.
  • Toss a green salad with black beans.
  • Bake sugar cookies.
  • A pitcher of cold water is absolutely fine!
I'm no great cook; my food is adequate at best. But the more I open my home to others, the less I worry about the rest.

Do you have a tried-and-true company meal that fits your budget? I'd love to know what you serve!

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I always serve Roasted Turkey when we have a dinner party! so easy, plenty for every one, cheap! and people always seem so impressed.
lele www.xanga.com/manse_life

Story Girl said...

We have a monthly home made pizza party. Everyone brings pizza toppings and a drink, and we provide the sauce and cheese and home made dough. For the kind of crowds we have (25-30 people) it's a very inexpensive party. And as far as letting things go - I don't worry about the house being perfect ahead of time since I know about half the guests will be kids aged 5 and under. It's such a great time for all of our young families friends to connect regularly. Not to mention we come up with some very yummy pizza combinations!

laurel said...

Lately, my favorite food to make on the fly and inexpensively is corn and black bean quesadillas. Perfect for when friends come for lunch (or even dinner, with a salad), it's fast, yummy, and very cheap (especially if you start with dried beans). Salsa, chips, or a salad...or even better, homemade guacamole. Yum!

Anonymous said...

Living in Texas we eat alot of Mexican food. I have an enchilada casserole I make, a simple salad, and some pinto beans. I can make a huge amount of this for about $12.00 and feed a lot of people. Usually there are 20-25 of us when all my brothers and sisters and their wives, husbands, their kids and our grand children...so a mixed group. I also do not use paper plates, paper cups, or plastic ware.
I can feed us all for less than $25.00 total.
sometimes when I can get a good sale I will serve chicken. My husband will grill it. I make potato salad, pinto beans, and a bread. I also always serve a sugar free desert. Ice tea is always here.
As far as the house goes, no I do not go all out and clean the house till AFTER the party. I make sure the bathrooms are clean, the kitchen stays clean because I clean as I go, the rest waits till after the guests go home. We always meet for family gatherings at MY house because I have the biggest house. Roxie

Catherine at Frugal Homemaker Plus said...

Meredith, I make crock pot burritos and they are yum! I did a post about this today: http://frugalhomemakerplus.blogspot.com/2008/06/inexpensive-party-food.html

Kimberly said...

For lunch with a friend or two I usually make a nice salad and serve it with quiche, or chicken, or some little tea sandwiches. I stick with tried & true things that can sit awhile and still be delicious.
I make a lot of tea--hot and iced depending on the season. It's delicious and inexpensive!
Brownies or scones work for dessert, plus the lefftovers are wonderful to have!

baby~amore' said...

what a great idea and so practical.
I love story girl's idea too- brilliant.
It is more about sharing the friendship than the food and a super clean house.

I have comment moderation on and off because of stupid spammers.

Michelle Smiles said...

Speaking as one on the receiving end of an invitation - I just appreciate the company and really don't care if someone puts out a nice spread (although you always do such a nice table and yummy food). I agree...let the details go and just enjoy the time together!

Hopefull said...

Thanks for the reminder. I promised myself this year that I would invite more people over - later in the evening for dessert. Lots of my friends have 4+kids and I have a small home and limited budget. So, this seems like a fun way to still be hospitable and get to know people better. I have only done it once, shame on me, but I will again and let you know how it goes!

Mrs. Querido said...

Enchiladas are my specialty. Everyone loves them and they are SOOOOO easy to make! Some chicken, a can of enchilada sauce, tortillas (store bought, not homemade...sorry), some black beans, cilantro and rice. Yummy, a surefire crowd pleaser! For a beverage, limeade with lots of ice.

Blessings!

Mrs. Q

Mrs. Byers said...

I like to make Alfredo Bow-tie Pasta. I doesn't require the oven if it is warm outside that day and if I happen to have extra chicken or shrimp...a little goes a long way. Add a salad and some bread and you have a restaurant style meal for the happy meal price :0)

Edi said...

One tried and true meal I use for company (in the months other than the cold ones) - is "beer can chicken". Cooking a whole chicken on the grill - the instructions are on my blog.

Usually I'll serve it with some type of salad, homemade bread/rolls and something else.

For an easy, inexpensive (and somewhat healthy) dessert I like sliced angel food cake (you can get the loaf sized shape for about $1.50 at Aldi) with raspberries or strawberries or both (fresh or frozen) and whipped topping or vanilla ice-cream.

Nancy said...

As it turns out, I'm entertaining tonight. I'm serving BBQ pulled pork sandwiches (made in the crock-pot w/the inexpensive cuts of pork), a potato & carrot casserole, bbq green beans and watermelon. Cost will be about $2.66/person (serving 12). And we'll be dining al fresco if the weather permits.

Traci said...

Well, for me (esp. if its an all at the last minute dinner for family) I have no problem revamping some leftovers into a new meal..... say I have some left over homemade chicken and rice soup.... well, drain off the excess stock and add a can of veggies, a can of cream of mushroom soup mix it with some sour cream and put it all in a casserole dish with some crushed butter crackers or Corn Flakes on top and tadaa..... Chicken casserole!!!

Anonymous said...

I serve a casserole such as lasagna, a tossed salad, bread and a dessert. If people offer to bring a dessert, beverage, etc. I accept their offer!

My husband's side is quite large. Whoever hosts supplies the meat and beverage. Every family contributes to the meal. The menu is planned by the host family. Everything is good everytime.

Ruth, PA

Sandy said...

Hi Meredith - the meal that works for me is salmon. That is what I am serving tonight and the guests are all bringing another dish. I am taking veggies from the garden - will BBQ them. And strawberries for pie! Can't go wrong.

For me DELEGATION is the key to INEXPENSIVE. Hey, maybe I have a post there! LOL.

Happy Sunday! Oh, and YES! Wrinkles are good :))

lizzykristine said...

Homemade pesto pizza is an easy, inexpensive one for us. A small jar of pesto is $3, and thinned with olive oil, it easily goes for 3-4 large pizzas. Toss on some chicken & cheese, and everybody thinks it is gourmet. :) A unique sauce and homemade crust are very impressive these days, I guess!

Best of all, it is impossible to mess up. Served with a salad, side of veggies, fruit, or whatever, it makes a very inexpensive, filling, and delicious meal. :)

Kath said...

The last luncheon I made for a friend I made a simple goulash type meal. Boiled my ground meat and noodles (used an interesting noodle like bowtie or some such). I chopped several fresh tomatoes. Once the meat and noodles were cooked, I put them all in nice yelloware bowl and tossed them all together, drizzle w/ a little olive oil, and seasoning to my liking (fresh basil, oregano etc. if you have it, or dry will still do quite nicely).

Add a small side salad and a batch of cookies and your set.

My friend loved it. They have added that simple pasta toss to their regular menu.

Blessings,
Kath

Ernestine said...

I'm the mom who has raised her 4 so my I am at a different time of life.
My daughter is coming in from Massachusetts to help settle my two oldest grandchildren in college in August.
I know my daughter and 2 little ones may drop in.
So on hand I will probably go this route.
For lunch there will be tuna and chicken salad on hand. A turkey breast I have baked, pasta salad and an oriental salad made with chopped broccoli.
I may have a quiche on hand.
With this being summer and I have a small kitchen garden - hopefully salad items are readily available.
Every week I make some type of bread go with hot tea or ice tea.
Banana, zuchinni, apricot or carrot bread. Usually have a lemon ice box pie on hand during the summer, also going to try your coconut cream pie. Also family favorite a chocolate sheet cake might have to be on hand.
A taco salad looks pretty layered in a plate. Lettuce, ground beef,
black beans with homemade salsa on top. Tomato and avocade around the side served with chips. I usually keep ground beef in the freezer in 1/2 packages. So this is easy to assemble quickly.
At night I will probably have salmon with veggies or stirfry.
Again this is simple and not for a crowd.
Grandma can have all of on hand and surely my 6 ft 3, 18 year old grandson will find something he likes.

Lizz @ Yes, and So is My Heart said...

I frequently serve store-bought meatballs (on sale) with noodles and sauce. I can add bread, salad, and cookies for less than ten dollars for the entire meal.

And, you are so right. The more we have company over, the less I worry about the little stuff.

Now, if I could just get everyone over this virus...

L said...

Lasagne- It's easy to bulk out with veggies and beans, or make vegetarian if the guest list requires it.
A simple salad, some fresh bread and a simple sponge cake for afters.
If it's a Sunday lunch- roast beef, yorkshire puddings, roast veg and a trifle for dessert- people are always impressed but it's probably the easiest thing to make. I can always find beef on sale here.

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate said...

In the summer we usually get together with our friends for BBQ style meals. hotdogs etc on the grill, some chips, and everyone else brings a side or desert to pass.

In the winter I've done chili for a crowd (white and regular) again in a serve yourself buffet line style.

If I want to impress folks I usually make german schnitzle with homemade spatzle and cucumber salad. It's not expensive, but it does take a while. . .

I think this summer I'm going to make a point of having some friends over for a salad plate luncheon like you did for your mom last year.

Lindenhaus said...

It looks like I am another who serves Mexican food! My guests love my layered, spicy, cheesy tortilla/ground beef dish or chicken fajitas (grilled chicken) with warm flour tortillas and all the fixings. I toss a salad and have homemade bars and vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Jan/lost-strayed-or-stolen.blogspot.com said...

In hot weather, tuna salad. I keep several cans of tuna on hand, or canned chicken, depending on sales. I add chopped apple, celery, grated carrots, onions, depending on what's on hand, a couple of boiled eggs chopped fine, and mayo. Serve on fresh, crisp salad greens with crackers for a short-notice meal. Sub. fresh rolls for the crackers, if you have a little notice. Add some melon balls in pretty little glass bowls for dessert. Low calorie, cool in hot weather, and lovely color for the table. Jan

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend "Open Heart, Open Home" by Karen Maines. It was long out of print, but has been reprinted in the past few years. The most helpful concept it the contrast she draws between entertaining and hospitality. And her popsicle story is great.

Marty Davis

Amy said...

When it's not hot out, we do a pot of soup, usually a variant of potato corn chowder, and homemade bread. I bake bread weekly and so usually have a fresh loaf or some in the freezer. In summer, hot dogs on the grill, with salad,or chips, fruit, and maybe ice cream does nicely for families with children.

I have served biscuits and gravy before to folks after church. And with my hubby working second shift, I'd like to do brunch for guests sometime.

Margo said...

Wrinkled SO doesn't matter - you're right, Meredith! I read "The Art of Hospitality" by Michele Hershberger (from my church library) when I was a newlywed and she convinced me that it's the spirit, the fellowship, that matter, not the condition of the house or the elegance of the meal.
I don't have a standby guest food - I just try to keep a well-stocked pantry and tailor it to who's coming. I rarely serve meat as a main dish, though - that can be expensive. In the winter, I almost always do hearty stews and soups.

Anonymous said...

We have developed a tradition of these get-togethers around the holidays with a theme. The last one was Mexican food and everyone brought one or two things. We have 20-30 people and there is always so much food. But it makes it easier on the hostest (me) to not have to cook such quantities or spend a lot. And our friends seem to enjoy playing a roll in the meal.

Rebekah

Tubo Family said...

I love quiche & Mexican food but try to make only things my dairy allergic son can eat so one that has worked for me is chicken adobo (a Filipino recipe learned from my husband's family...many versions available online though ours is very simple, only chicken, equal amounts vinegar/soy sauce/water, garlic, bay & brown sugar) served with rice and cut up fruit or carrot sticks and easy dessert from scratch or cheap mix from grocery outlet.

Ewokgirl said...

Something easy and inexpensive, and just happens to be my most-requested dish by my friends, is Jamaican Jerk Pork. I make it in the crockpot, mix up some lime mayo, and have rolls and red peppers available for making sandwiches. Pork roasts can often be found on sale for very little, and my recipe makes a ton.

Chips or cole slaw make for an easy side dish. Baked beans are also good with it.

Ewokgirl said...

A huge pot of taco soup is also easy and inexpensive. Great for cold weather. Corn bread or tortilla chips are great with it and cost very little.

Mrs. Gunning said...

Romaine lettuce with tomatoes and black beans with dressing, egg salad sandwiches and ham sandwiches, a beef and barley soup and a light sherbet for a dessert, if at all. :) I love that one.

Julie said...

There are a couple easy meals that I serve when company comes over. My favorite is Tortilla Soup in the crockpot. It is very simple. A can of black beans, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, salsa and some cooked chicken and your done.
Also like to serve salad. I put the toppings and people make their own. It is a great thing to make on a hot day.

Michelle said...

Some favorites are: Refried Bean Soup and Black Bean Soup.

Our priest is coming for dinner within the next two weeks and the menu is: Meatloaf (ground beef is on sale this week & made with feta cheese and marinaded roasted red peppers), homemade mac 'n cheese (using low carb noodles) and salad. For dessert I'm serving sugar free Oreo cookie cheesecake.

Anonymous said...

Well said!

I tend to create occasions for quick hospitality out of one cheap thing, (served in copious amounts) like:

"Come on over to roast marshmallows!"

or dozens of ears of fresh corn on the cob, in the dark around the fire

or homemade ice cream

or "come for milk and cookies!"

or fresh pesto from my garden on pasta

Winter:

popcorn and rich homemade hot chocolate

Hot cornbread with sorghum, jam and honey

Getting together is the point, isn't it : )

deb meyers

Sheila said...

I find the lunch that always works is "do it yourself". I'll get wraps out, some cold meats, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, etc.

Then everybody can make their own sandwiches!

And I serve cold veggies with dip. I find everyone likes something, and the more veggies you eat, the less you realize that you're not being served potato chips!

I will put out a bag of chips every now and then, but they're not healthy, and I'd rather stick to healthy stuff!

Popsicles are great for dessert, and the girls make their own by freezing apple juice and orange juice. Again, kids love them, and they're healthy!

Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

Milehimama said...

I do spaghetti. I make my own sauce (amazingly easy!) but it is surprising how many adults have never had homemade sauce! It stretches easily to accommodate extra guests, and I can make it meatless if the budget is really tight.

Something else we do if I'm just too overwhelmed at getting the house ready is host parties at the local park. The kids love to play on the playground, the adults can grill and potluck, it's free, and there's no cleanup!

It's my kid birthday party venue of choice.

Amy said...

This is a great reminder. Sometimes I want things too perfect and some of our best entertaining moments have been more impromptu.

If I don't know someone is coming for dinner, I usually do a breakfast for dinner night, unless I have meat unthawed. Waffles and pancakes are easy and scrambled eggs are always a great side.

Now that it is warmer out, we have hamburgers (pre-made) that we can do cookouts with and I can make a cold pasta salad and cut up some veggies or cheese- instant cookout :)

Lee said...

I make quesadillas. Tortillas-cheapo, I'm going to bake them anyway...cheese and refried beans OR BBQ sauce, cooked, diced chicken (I always use turkey-cause we are turkey farmers) and cheese. And bake in the oven.

I serve them with salsa and sourcream. Cut open a watermelon and we are there. :)
Love today's blog, Meredith! Thanks!

angela said...

I like to serve stuffed shells and turkey meatballs. I can watch for the ingredients to go on sale, make a big batch and put it in the freezer until we need it. I feel it lends it self well to the question "what can I bring?" Salad, bread, fruit salad, brownies, etc, all round out this meal well. If no one is bringing anything then I just have to do a salad & bread and call it good. While it is baking, I can visit with my friends.

Tracey, In Word Adorning said...

A classic southern company or family Sunday dinner, fried (or baked, grilled or bbq) chicken, mac/cheese, string beans, rolls served with iced tea and lemon. Add a healthy dose of hospitality, gracious host, good conversation and a pretty table no one will notice the budget friendly simplicity.

Heather said...

I am a very plain cook, and I have too many favorite dishes - which often leads me to stew over which favorite to serve! I think it is a great idea to have a stand - by! I've got to work on that!

Anonymous said...

It seems everyone enjoys Mexican food more than I do. My standard "ladies' luncheon" is chicken salad on leaf lettuce with mini croissants and various fruits on a skewer. Simple, looks pretty, tastes good. I enjoy making desserts so usually do something a bit elaborate if I have time, although I am not above a scoop of good quality ice-cream with a couple of Pepperidge Farm cookies with it. If kids are present, I make simple PB&J and/or grilled cheese with their fruit with milk to drink. Iced tea is usually one of the adult drink choices in summer.

Karen said...

I love that you do this and now is the time of year for it! I need to get brave about inviting friends over for lunch dates.

Rapunzel said...

Just found your blog, absolutely lovely!

I've been doing a lot more entertaining at home lately thanks to my SO who loooooves to have people over! At first I was so nervous about the house being just so, but I've finally started to relax when my dear older friend who told me that the one thing she regrets in life is worrying too much over her house being perfect. Friends truly do come to see me, not my house, and if they are happy and comfy that's all that matters!

Charity Grace said...

Spaghetti is my mainstay. I even use cheap canned sauce. Salad and homemade rolls and sometimes brownies or cookies dessert. I can make most of that early in the day if I want to, and most people like spaghetti--even kids.