Friday, August 27, 2010

Entertaining on a budget

How I love to entertain! I really enjoy having friends over for food and drinks. The kids get to play, we get to connect and have fun with our friends. It's just a good time all around. Now that it's fall, we actually tend to entertain more often. The weather is nice to be outside, so everyone comes out to watch their kids play and before you know it, I have a spontaneous party on my hands!

It probably does seem spontaneous to most of my friends, but actually, there is a bit of planning involved on my part - that's what keeps it easy and frugal. A few things I do:

1. Menu Plan - Early in the week, I'll see if we'll be home for the weekend - if so, when I do my menu plan, I plan something for Friday and Saturday that can easily be expanded to feed extras.

2. Have kids food on hand - I also stock up on typical kids food when they go on sale so that I can feed picky kids with ease (I have an amazing supply of mac and cheese and Capri Sun on hand even though we don't eat those items ourselves often). This can stretch a meal to feed extras and the kids prefer it anyway.

3. Prepare appetizer food ahead of time - salsa, dip, etc. nice to have on hand for your family for the weekend, and a plus if people drop by.

4. Signature drinks - I'm known for my fun and different drinks, but in reality I simply keep my eyes open for a simple (and budget stretching) drink recipe and then make a pitcher or two - much cheaper than different drinks for everyone and I can typically keep the ingredients on hand.

For example, it's a beautiful day today, so as I was prepping for dinner, I made up enough to feed some extras - we are having cuban sandwiches, so it's easy to expand the fixings and I'll present it on a platter so everyone can make their own. If we don't eat it all, no sweat, I have lunch prepared for tomorrow or Sunday!

I made up a batch of salsa last night, and will also make up some guacamole while the pork roast is on the grill.

Finally, I found a fun, festive latin drink that is made by the pitcher - so, if enough people come over I'll whip up a few pitchers. If not, I have the ingredients on hand for next time. Easy, peasy!

Since the work day is about over and I hear the kids playing outside, I'm going to go put some music on and start prepping the guac - I'm sure a fun time will follow!

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