Many of the best memories are created around a table full of food. However, holiday gatherings, parties and other social events can strain your entertaining budget. You don't need to forgo hosting big meals just because you don't have a fortune to spend on food. With a little effort, you can serve an abundant feast without busting your budget. Here are a few ideas.
One store might be having a great sale on the meat you need, while another shop has the good produce deals this week. Sometimes, dividing up your shopping list between two or three stores can save a significant amount of money. Sit down with the weekly ads and your shopping list. Make separate lists or organize one list so you know which items you need to get at each place.
Be Flexible About Your Menu
Maybe you were planning to serve ham, but every ham in town is more than you can afford. Perhaps there are better prices on roast beef right now. It's OK to switch up your menu. Embracing flexibility can take a lot of stress out of putting together a big meal as well as save you money.
Consider Going Potluck Style
One sure way to save money on any kind of big meal is to ask your guests to bring dishes to share. This can be a fun way to sample new foods, plus it removes some of the burden for you. If you're uncomfortable with the idea of outsourcing an entire meal, consider providing the main course and asking guests to bring a side dish or dessert.
Buy in Bulk
You don't need to buy everything in super-sized proportions, but purchasing some items in bulk can save you big. If you'll need a lot of a staple item such as potatoes or rice, consider visiting your local bulk store to stock up. You'll probably pay a lot less per serving than you would by purchasing smaller packages. Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart advises splitting bulk items with a friend. This can stretch your entertaining budget without forcing you to buy more than you need.
Use What You Have
You don't need to go out and buy a whole new set of dishes or redecorate your house to host a big meal. Work with what you already have, and only buy a few accents if you really need them. Even mismatched dishware can look charming set among some festive table decorations. Apply this tip with food, too. For instance, if you have an abundance of canned tomatoes in your pantry, consider using them in a soup or pasta dish.
With holiday spending expected to increase this year, most of us could use some help keeping our finances under control. If you're looking for more advice to trim your entertaining budget or you want to know how you can start saving money successfully, your neighborhood Coosa Valley Credit Union can help.