Feed Hungry Houseguests Without Going Broke

Holiday time sometimes means a house full of guests for days or a week at a time. It truly is a joy to spend precious time with those we love, but how do you feed all of these people for a week without spending every waking hour in the kitchen or going broke? Never fear, here are six ideas to help you cut down on the stress AND the cost of feeding a house full of guests.

1. Buy in bulk. Are you a member of a local warehouse club, like Sam's or Costco? For some people, buying cases of paper towels or large vats of mayonnaise just doesn't make sense most of the time. But, if you are entertaining five or six extra people for a few days, buying in bulk can be a great source of savings. Just make sure you plan your meals and list before you shop!

2. Keep it simple. Outside of the main event of Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve/Day meal, stick to dishes that are good for feeding a crowd, like soups or pasta. These kinds of meals can really stretch your food dollar, especially when you're feeding extra people. Here are a few soup recipes if you need new ideas. Here are some fabulous pasta dishes. And, don't forget the slow cooker! Cooking soups or other meals in the slow cooker allows you time to spend with those visiting loved ones.

3. Divide and conquer. If you have several families, or couples, visiting at the same time, assign each family a night, and let them be responsible for the shopping and meal prep on their night. This gives you, and your budget, a break, and gets everyone involved. It can be a fun way to try out new recipes as well, and have fun in the kitchen together. And, if your family is anything like mine, it can turn into a lighthearted competition. Which night was best? Let Grandma, or the kids, judge.

4. Be flexible. Don't feel the need to plan out every meal. Have a plan for the evening meals, and the biggies, like Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, but other than that make sure you have plenty of "make your own" fixings for lunches and breakfasts. Think deli meat and cheese, breads, chips and fruits for lunch, and continental style for breakfast. Cereals, oatmeal, muffins and the like are great options.

5. Don't forget the leftovers. Leftovers from one meal can be transformed into something totally new. Here is a great list of uses for leftover turkey from one of my favorite bloggers, The Pioneer Woman. I have personally made the turkey tetrazzini, and it is delicious!

6. Don't forget dessert! If you're looking for an easy and inexpensive dessert idea, cookies are a great option. Decorating holiday cookies doubles as a fun activity, and can become a treasured family tradition, as it is in my husband's family. Each year, the whole family sits around the kitchen table decorating cookies together. It is something everyone looks forward to, especially the kids. Friends that drop by can be invited to participate in the fun, too!

Don't forget to slow down and have fun with your family and friends this holiday season.

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