Author Topic: Cooking for guests is too expensive!  (Read 16136 times)

flamingo25

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Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« on: October 23, 2014, 11:25:56 PM »
Recently someone told me that they might as well go to restaurants while hanging out with friends b/c cooking for guests is "so expensive." She went on to tell me that she "had" to spend $50 buying food just to make dinner for company of 2 people (not including alcohol). The attitude was all "woe is me, life is so expensive."

Not sure what she was serving, but holy cow.

Please tell me I'm not nuts for thinking this is outrageous.

Goldielocks

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2014, 12:16:53 AM »
It is pretty easy to spend that much.  You need to plan the menu to get something company nice for a normal amount of money.

e.g.,

Roast Lamb with potatoes, asparagus (out of season), salad with cheese or toppings, boxed/bakery dessert, nice coffee and appetizers (frozen box or two or shrimp ring or artisinal cheese platter and fruit) can easily come to that for 4 person servings.

She likely did not subtract leftovers from the cost, or like my early entertaining, did not remove the food for next day from the dish ahead of time, so that my hugely appreciative guest ate almost 3 lbs of roast himself.   (I certainly learned what to expect!)

flamingo25

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2014, 08:32:22 AM »
I suppose it is easy to spend $50. I think I was jaded as this "friend" has a reputation in my mind for being a complainer while simultaneously blowing cash everywhere. It seemed like she was just making excuses to be lazy.

I agree it could be easy to spend that much, but do we "have to" as this person was implying? I've hosted people with a pot of soup and breadsticks and everyone was happy.

frugalnacho

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2014, 08:39:22 AM »
Depending on what you make (steaks?) you could easily spend $50, but that same food as a restaurant would be far more expensive. 

GuitarStv

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2014, 08:39:36 AM »
- Buy a utility turkey when they go on sale for less than 88 cents an lb.
- Make bread
- Boil potatoes
- Toss some frozen veggies in a pot

Boom.  You've just served 10 for under 50$, and you've got leftovers.  I defy anyone to serve 10 people at a restaurant for 50$.

skyrefuge

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2014, 09:17:16 AM »
$50 / 4 (presumably?) = $12.50. Yes, that's expensive for a single home-cooked meal, and she surely could have found the same ingredients for less money, and she probably had leftovers. But I'm sure it was still half the price (or less) of an equivalent restaurant meal.

It seems expensive for her because she was serving four people rather than two. Half of her expense was a "gift". The trick to this whole restaurant-beating scheme is to then have the other couple return the favor, so that she can eat for $0 (and no effort) next time.

socaso

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2014, 10:44:42 AM »
The last two parties I threw we had over 8-10 people and I spent less than $50 on food. One was a cookout with a full meal and the other was a cocktail party with heavy appetizers. If I am serving a meal I always plan plenty for people to eat but in my group of friends people always bring food. I try to encourage them to bring booze and usually they bring booze plus an appetizer/side dish. I couldn't spend $50 on dinner for two if I tried. For Valentine's I made my husband chicken roulade with mushrooms and sauce, asparagus and butterscotch pot du creme. The groceries were $20.

mm1970

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2014, 11:26:01 AM »
Well, experienced cooks can do better.  My MIL is a pro at this.  I have learned from her.

Roast chicken ($5-$15, depending on the size and if you go local/ organic).
Rice pilaf or roast veggies - my personal fave is onions, carrots, and potatoes roasted underneath the chicken (all that yummy chicken fat) - $2
A green salad or vegetable of some kind.  Steamed broccoli is pretty cheap. $2

MrsPete

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2014, 11:59:58 AM »
I could easily spend $50 on a nice homecooked meal for four:  We'll start with a snack-y platter before the meal -- maybe a fruit tray?  Rib-eye steaks cooked on the grill, a couple fancy side dishes, a homemade cheesecake with strawberry sauce . . . no, no, let's make it those Bailey's Irish Cream cupcakes that I saw on Pinterest.  They look pretty expensive. 

Or I could serve the meatball sub casserole, which I've already prepared for tonight's dinner.  Bagged meatballs purchased on sale, 2-for-one deli rolls, cheese, spaghetti sauce, cream cheese -- it probably adds up to $7 or so for a large casserole, which will allow for leftovers tomorrow.  I'll add some steamed broccoli.  Admittedly, I wouldn't feed guests a casserole, if I were trying to be impressive. 

Cooking is just one of those things that can be expensive -- or it can be cheap.  I think the real issue is that too many people have started to go out so often that they've just lost touch with how to cook good food -- especially good food without breaking the bank.
I agree it could be easy to spend that much, but do we "have to" as this person was implying? I've hosted people with a pot of soup and breadsticks and everyone was happy.
Yes, soup is easy and VERY cheap -- and everyone likes it!  Also chili is pretty low priced, and a green salad topped with chicken slices is cheap too.  The list of possibilities could go on. 
Boom.  You've just served 10 for under 50$, and you've got leftovers.  I defy anyone to serve 10 people at a restaurant for 50$.
Just to be argumentative, I know a Japanese place that serves Hibachi Chicken for $3.99/person -- and it's a good big portion of tasty food.  However, you can't know that everyone in your party would actually choose that daily special.  I get it occasionally as take-out, but I don't give my family a choice -- I just show up with it and say, "Enjoy".  And pretty often I have BOGOF entrée coupons, which make restaurant meals affordable, but still not cheaper than most homecooked meals. 

GardenFun

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2014, 12:13:22 PM »
Depending on what you make (steaks?) you could easily spend $50, but that same food as a restaurant would be far more expensive.

Maybe it was a "holy cow" as OP initially stated?

To be fair, it depends on the expectations of the guests.  Most good friends wouldn't care if it was casserole or English muffin pizza.  Out of town people - that may require kicking it up a little bit in fanciness, but still...easily done for $15-$20.  Planning is key.   

EastCoastMike

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2014, 02:22:39 PM »
I usually make Indian vegetable curries with rice and homemade naan or something like that.  It's tasty, exotic (i.e. impressive), and best of all....  CHEAP!  I can cook for 6 - 8 people on short notice for about $15 in materials. 

Everyone coming to my place knows its BYOB because I don't drink, so that cuts a lot of expense out.

Rural

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2014, 04:26:40 PM »
MrsPete: Recipe for meatball sub casserole, please - meatball subs are a staple here, but they mean no leftovers for lunch.

VirginiaBob

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2014, 04:53:03 PM »
Next time, have her do spaghetti and meatballs, salad and bread. Not impressive by itself, but do homemade Italian bread and pasta in the bread machine, and homemade sauce from tomatoes and garlic from the garden, along with garden grown salad.  About $10, at most.

MrsPete

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2014, 08:26:41 PM »
MrsPete: Recipe for meatball sub casserole, please - meatball subs are a staple here, but they mean no leftovers for lunch.
Tear rolls (or French bread, or whatever you have -- just avoid plain old sandwich bread) in half "sandwich style" and squish them together into a casserole dish.  You want a good 2-3" of bread as your bottom layer -- the stuff up top is going to sink down and make it oohey-gooey and yummy. 
Mix together 1/2 a brick of cream cheese, an equal amount of mayonnaise, and Italian spices -- spread over the bread.  If you want LOADS of oohey-gooey, use the whole brick of cream cheese.
Layer on meatballs (homemade, obviously, are best, but frozen will do), mozzarella cheese, and a jar of spaghetti sauce.  Note that these items are easy to keep on hand and are often on sale. 

Feel free to substitute different cheese, to add in vegetables (especially onions and peppers), or to make any other additions or substitutions you'd make to a meatball sub.  You really can't go wrong here.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. 



Rural

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2014, 06:58:17 PM »
MrsPete: Recipe for meatball sub casserole, please - meatball subs are a staple here, but they mean no leftovers for lunch.
Tear rolls (or French bread, or whatever you have -- just avoid plain old sandwich bread) in half "sandwich style" and squish them together into a casserole dish.  You want a good 2-3" of bread as your bottom layer -- the stuff up top is going to sink down and make it oohey-gooey and yummy. 
Mix together 1/2 a brick of cream cheese, an equal amount of mayonnaise, and Italian spices -- spread over the bread.  If you want LOADS of oohey-gooey, use the whole brick of cream cheese.
Layer on meatballs (homemade, obviously, are best, but frozen will do), mozzarella cheese, and a jar of spaghetti sauce.  Note that these items are easy to keep on hand and are often on sale. 

Feel free to substitute different cheese, to add in vegetables (especially onions and peppers), or to make any other additions or substitutions you'd make to a meatball sub.  You really can't go wrong here.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.


Thanks!

stripey

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2014, 10:43:58 PM »
Oxtail stew with red wine and port:

1.5kg oxtail
Thyme and bay leaves (I got mine from the garden)
Very cheap red wine and port (8 hours makes it all taste pretty much the same regardless of quality)
Onions, carrot, celery
A slow cooker and 8 hours

= Very flavourful and hearty main course for SIX if you serve up some steamed vegetables on the side = $20 (incl vegetables). In AUSTRALIA, where food is generally a lot more expensive (either from the supermarket or the restauraunt) than in the US.

Cressida

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2014, 02:58:13 AM »
my hugely appreciative guest ate almost 3 lbs of roast himself

jesus god

VirginiaBob

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2014, 05:18:58 AM »
my hugely appreciative guest ate almost 3 lbs of roast himself

jesus god

Yea, like seriously?  Almost 3 lbs?  I'd be more worried about your bill for the plumber after he uses your bathroom rather than the actual food expenses.

Torran

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #18 on: October 27, 2014, 05:27:56 AM »
I realise this is shameless self promotion, but I wrote a blog post ages ago about this conundrum. My conclusion was to avoid serving any meat or alchohol to guests!

http://thestorytellinghour.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/the-16-dinner-party/

UnleashHell

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #19 on: October 27, 2014, 06:02:14 AM »
we had a couple of friends over for dinner on Saturday. We were already planning on doing curry so one lentil curry, one veggie curry, some rice and a towering stack of home made naan... still had enough left over for another dinner...

expensive? the guests brought a bottle of wine and some ice cream that cost more than dinner!!

and they loved it..

frugalnacho

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #20 on: October 27, 2014, 01:08:48 PM »
I realise this is shameless self promotion, but I wrote a blog post ages ago about this conundrum. My conclusion was to avoid serving any meat or alchohol to guests!

http://thestorytellinghour.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/the-16-dinner-party/

Clever, not only do you save money by not serving meat or alcohol, but you save money by never having guests return!

Fodder

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #21 on: October 27, 2014, 01:46:58 PM »
For Food Day a few years ago (I think it was in 2012?), I challenged myself to put on a dinner party for 10 for under $50 and I did it with no issues whatsoever.

First course was a simple green salad (lettuce was on sale) with a vinaigrette I made myself with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and mustard.

Second course was a roasted squash/carrot soup with toasted squash seeds and a tiny drizzle of cream on top/fresh ground pepper on top.

Third course was a turkey (got one of those .88/lb turkeys), gravy, potatoes, carrots, frozen peas (massive bags of potatoes and carrots were on sale for like $2).

And fourth course was creme brulee (between the $6.50 for cream, $2 for a vanilla bean and $2 for egg yolks, this was a surprisingly expensive course).

All told, it was just a hair under $50 and it ended up being 12 people for a four-course dinner.  I couldn't serve wine on that budget, but the guests brought some, so it all worked out.

I've definitely spent over $200 hosting a dinner party, but I've also done parties where I didn't spend nearly so much.  Cooking seasonally makes a HUGE difference (i.e., the aforementioned cheap turkey, carrot and potatoes), as well as using ingredients efficiently (like toasting the squash seeds to make the soup look snazzier).  Planning is key if you're trying to stretch your dinner budget.

But it would be nothing for me to feed two extra people.  We have a family of four and most dinner recipes I make serve 6-8, because I rely on the leftovers for lunches!

gimp

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #22 on: October 27, 2014, 02:04:05 PM »
I realise this is shameless self promotion, but I wrote a blog post ages ago about this conundrum. My conclusion was to avoid serving any meat or alchohol to guests!

http://thestorytellinghour.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/the-16-dinner-party/

Clever, not only do you save money by not serving meat or alcohol, but you save money by never having guests return!

Yeah. I don't need to treat myself too well but friends coming over gets the good stuff broken out. Come on, basic hospitality.

MrsPete

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #23 on: October 27, 2014, 03:47:07 PM »
I realise this is shameless self promotion, but I wrote a blog post ages ago about this conundrum. My conclusion was to avoid serving any meat or alchohol to guests!

http://thestorytellinghour.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/the-16-dinner-party/

Clever, not only do you save money by not serving meat or alcohol, but you save money by never having guests return!

Yeah. I don't need to treat myself too well but friends coming over gets the good stuff broken out. Come on, basic hospitality.
Agreed.  I think some posters get caught up in the idea of, How can I spend the least amount possible?  When the goal should actually be to get good value for every dollar -- and what's more important than an occasional nice, home cooked meal for the people you love?

4alpacas

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2014, 05:11:49 PM »
I realise this is shameless self promotion, but I wrote a blog post ages ago about this conundrum. My conclusion was to avoid serving any meat or alchohol to guests!

http://thestorytellinghour.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/the-16-dinner-party/

Clever, not only do you save money by not serving meat or alcohol, but you save money by never having guests return!

Yeah. I don't need to treat myself too well but friends coming over gets the good stuff broken out. Come on, basic hospitality.
Agreed.  I think some posters get caught up in the idea of, How can I spend the least amount possible?  When the goal should actually be to get good value for every dollar -- and what's more important than an occasional nice, home cooked meal for the people you love?
I'm glad I wasn't the only person who spends "lavishly" on guests.  I feed my guests meat, alcohol and cheese.  And maybe ice cream.

VirginiaBob

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #25 on: October 28, 2014, 08:16:23 AM »
If it makes anyone feel better (probably not), I'm spending about $350 on food for our twins upcoming Christening.  I guess on a per child basis, not as bad since twins and economies of scale.  If it were up to me, I'd spend $0, but I'm married - win some, lose some.

Torran

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #26 on: October 28, 2014, 08:28:37 AM »
ok, I do treat my guests :) my point was just that it would be a shame to avoid having people round for dinner because you couldn't afford to dish up steak or oysters for them. You can serve up quite humble food and still have a great time together.

oldtoyota

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #27 on: October 28, 2014, 08:38:58 AM »
I realise this is shameless self promotion, but I wrote a blog post ages ago about this conundrum. My conclusion was to avoid serving any meat or alchohol to guests!

http://thestorytellinghour.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/the-16-dinner-party/

Clever, not only do you save money by not serving meat or alcohol, but you save money by never having guests return!

Yeah. I don't need to treat myself too well but friends coming over gets the good stuff broken out. Come on, basic hospitality.
Agreed.  I think some posters get caught up in the idea of, How can I spend the least amount possible?  When the goal should actually be to get good value for every dollar -- and what's more important than an occasional nice, home cooked meal for the people you love?

True.

At the same time, Indian food is often vegetarian. If your friends like it, you can definitely whip up a good no-meat dinner for not much money. Then, they are happy (because they would not make Indian food at home) and you are happy (because your friends are happy and you saved some $$ while having a good time). With my friends, I would have to have alcohol…they would also likely bring some with them. Just the culture of where I live now….




Fodder

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #28 on: October 28, 2014, 09:25:11 AM »
ok, I do treat my guests :) my point was just that it would be a shame to avoid having people round for dinner because you couldn't afford to dish up steak or oysters for them. You can serve up quite humble food and still have a great time together.

I agree with this!  It's all about the flavours, and you can coax some wonderful flavours out of very simple foods, if you know what you're doing.  I also don't believe meat is a necessity and wouldn't hesitate to serve a delicious vegetarian meal to guests (mind you, most of my friends have similar food philosophies to me --> discerning omnivores, welcoming of all cuisines and flavours).

I'm trying to figure out a way of saying this that doesn't sound dumb....but dinner parties are all in the planning and how you make guests feel.  I'm utterly confident that I could throw a delicious dinner party on almost any budget, and it doesn't necessarily need to involve filet mignon or lobster. 

VirginiaBob

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #29 on: October 28, 2014, 09:35:48 AM »
Did you ever see that show called "Extreme Cheapskates" where a woman fed her guests food that she found in a dumpster? 

Torran

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #30 on: October 28, 2014, 10:14:54 AM »
ok, I do treat my guests :) my point was just that it would be a shame to avoid having people round for dinner because you couldn't afford to dish up steak or oysters for them. You can serve up quite humble food and still have a great time together.

I agree with this!  It's all about the flavours, and you can coax some wonderful flavours out of very simple foods, if you know what you're doing.  I also don't believe meat is a necessity and wouldn't hesitate to serve a delicious vegetarian meal to guests (mind you, most of my friends have similar food philosophies to me --> discerning omnivores, welcoming of all cuisines and flavours).

I'm trying to figure out a way of saying this that doesn't sound dumb....but dinner parties are all in the planning and how you make guests feel.  I'm utterly confident that I could throw a delicious dinner party on almost any budget, and it doesn't necessarily need to involve filet mignon or lobster.

I concur :)

Torran

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #31 on: October 28, 2014, 10:15:59 AM »
Did you ever see that show called "Extreme Cheapskates" where a woman fed her guests food that she found in a dumpster?

Ha I saw one where a man cooked up a bbq with roadkill he'd found (rabbits, mice), and then made his guests guess what meat they were eating.

I've promised myself I'll never go that far.

GardenFun

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #32 on: October 28, 2014, 05:25:48 PM »
If it makes anyone feel better (probably not), I'm spending about $350 on food for our twins upcoming Christening.  I guess on a per child basis, not as bad since twins and economies of scale.  If it were up to me, I'd spend $0, but I'm married - win some, lose some.

What are you serving?  I have a 1st communion in 6 months and need some ideas. 

Cassie

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #33 on: October 28, 2014, 06:00:59 PM »
You can serve a great meal that is expensive or not depending on your budget, etc.  When I want to be frugal I serve my homemade spaghetti which is yummy & other times we have steak. It also depends on how many people we are feeding.  If I am having 25 people over I am not serving steak. It also depends if it is a big occasion & then again you may want to serve something more expensive.

Fodder

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #34 on: October 28, 2014, 07:20:07 PM »
If it makes anyone feel better (probably not), I'm spending about $350 on food for our twins upcoming Christening.  I guess on a per child basis, not as bad since twins and economies of scale.  If it were up to me, I'd spend $0, but I'm married - win some, lose some.

What are you serving?  I have a 1st communion in 6 months and need some ideas.

I know you weren't asking me, but what kind of crowd are you serving, and at what time?

A classic menu for an afternoon gathering (i.e., not a meal) would be a fruit platter, a veggie platter, a cheese and cracker platter and cake/cupcakes.  Quite simple, and can be done economically if you shop sales.

For something a little heartier, it's easy to add a crockpot full of meatballs or a couple of salads (southwest quinoa salad, greek pasta salad, a green kale salad; Pinch of Yum has a great wild rice, pomegranate and kale salad that I love to make for company).

For mealtimes, some of my go-tos for larger groups are:
- sandwich platters or sandwich bars (sometimes I do a smorgasbord of toppings, other times I preassemble sandwiches/wraps/buns/bagels)  You can accommodate a pretty wide variety of tastes with something like this.  To save money, you can structure your sandwich bar with the non-meat/cheese toppings first, and then people typically use a bit less of those toppings).  I also love finding a large cut of meat on sale; I will marinate it, cook it, cool it, and then slice thinly.  Quality is FAR superior to any sandwich meat, and the price is a fraction of the processed stuff.  Tuna and egg salads are also pretty inexpensive to make up.  Chickpea salad is a great vegetarian filling too)
- fajita bar
- slider bar
- meatball sub bar
- pasta bar (best if you have access to a chafing dish or crockpots to keep things warm)
- curry bar (if you know this will appeal to your guests)

You can also go more casual with a big pot or two of chili, fresh rolls and a few toppings (cheddar, cilantro, sour cream, hot sauce). 

You can also fill in a table with inexpensive (but popular) items like tortilla chips and salsa or pretzels.

VirginiaBob

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #35 on: October 28, 2014, 09:44:41 PM »
If it makes anyone feel better (probably not), I'm spending about $350 on food for our twins upcoming Christening.  I guess on a per child basis, not as bad since twins and economies of scale.  If it were up to me, I'd spend $0, but I'm married - win some, lose some.

What are you serving?  I have a 1st communion in 6 months and need some ideas.


Main course is a fire spit roasted pig.  It's an ethnic thing.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #36 on: October 29, 2014, 06:32:12 AM »
Pretty much my best dinner party so far was a beer tasting for my boyfriend's birthday last year. I think there were 8-10 people. I roasted two local chickens (maybe $16 each?) (not whole, I cut them up and did smitten kitchen's buttermilk brine with garlic and smoked paprika, yummmmmm) and made butternut squash and leek pasta for a side dish that could also be an entree for the one vegetarian. Plus we had homemade bread (always impresses people) and a super simple salad with homemade vinaigrette. The food was really good (if I do say so myself), pretty easy for me to cook, impressive enough to serve to guests, and it wasn't totally dirt cheap but it was WAY less than $12/person (and way more delicious than what $4-5/person would get people at a restaurant!) I guess that's not including the price of beer, we're friends with a bunch of beer nerds so we provided a couple bombers and everyone else brought stuff to share too.

gimp

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #37 on: October 29, 2014, 11:14:44 AM »
Main course is a fire spit roasted pig.  It's an ethnic thing.

Can I come? I'll pretend to care about the cause, but mostly I'd make a pilgrimage for the food.

GardenFun

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #38 on: October 29, 2014, 08:13:48 PM »
If it makes anyone feel better (probably not), I'm spending about $350 on food for our twins upcoming Christening.  I guess on a per child basis, not as bad since twins and economies of scale.  If it were up to me, I'd spend $0, but I'm married - win some, lose some.

What are you serving?  I have a 1st communion in 6 months and need some ideas.

Been to a few pig roasts, and they rock.  Unfortunately, we won't have enough people to justify it.  But that is an awesome idea for graduation. 

Fodder - you have some great ideas in there.  We are in a different state than the rest of family so not sure how many are going to make the trip.  Many of your ideas are make-ahead items which are the best for party planning. 


Main course is a fire spit roasted pig.  It's an ethnic thing.

cerebus

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #39 on: June 01, 2015, 06:53:12 AM »
Last Christmas I cooked for my wife's large family and I asked everyone to contribute $5 which pretty much represented a fair share of the cost. They were very happy to split the bill which would have come to around $60 I think for just the ingredients. I made the following:

- Starter was bouchee a la reine (pastry cups with chicken breast, chicken livers and creme fraiche)
- Second starter was a ratatouille pie with tomato jam
- Main dish was a beef bourgignon with gnocchi.

It was an absolute feast. I am thinking to do something similar again this year.

Roadhog

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #40 on: June 01, 2015, 07:07:45 AM »
We just had friends over for dinner and made salmon, wild caught purchased from Costco.   We served it with veggies (inexpensive) and rice (really inexpensive) and had dessert.  So total cost was probably around $40 for 4 of us, but it was pretty fancy.   If we went to a restaurant for the same meal it would have been $60 for 2 of us, easily.   So we figure for less than the cost of the 2 of us going out, we were able to treat our friends.   

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #41 on: June 01, 2015, 03:19:01 PM »
$50 dinner at home had better be #!*&($ filet and lobster.

$8.99 / lb steaks when on sale (x2)
$7.99 / ea small lobster tails at Asian market (x2)
$8.99 Carnivore Cabernet Sauvignon (excellent reviews on this)
$0.25 /ea mashed/baked potato x2
$2       salad mix
$5        ben + jerry's pint
= <$50

I've eaten more decadently than that for less money.

MgoSam

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #42 on: June 01, 2015, 04:07:06 PM »
Me and a few friends have been hosting a dinner once a month, different country every time. The last month we did Cuba and fed 23 people (including us) and our total expenses were around $205. How are people spending $50/person in the US?

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #43 on: June 01, 2015, 04:10:09 PM »
The only time I go all-out with expensive ingredients is if it's a very special feast, for special people. This happens very seldom.

For the most part, I avoid expense by making my own treats. I'm becoming a fairly competent maker of wine, mead, and liqueurs although some of my experiments can be terrifying. Overall I'd be surprised if I spent more than $3 per bottle, on the average, including experimental disasters. Since I have fruit trees, a vegetable garden, and an extensive herb garden in my backyard I can whip up some really good salads, desserts, and vegetables sides for next to nothing. The fruit is indeed seasonal, but it can last a long time as a nice jam or jelly, which goes beautifully on cheese or cream cheese for an appetizer. My jalapeno jelly and jalapeno-peach jellies are generally well received, and this year I'm plotting something diabolical involving apricots, honey, and ghost peppers if I can get them.

Like all DIY activities you can trade off effort for expense. The more you DIY, the better you can eat (and entertain) without spending a bundle.

It's humanly possible to spend $50 a head, or more, if you get the finest possible free-range goose to roast, and serve seven courses or more, and have to buy everything you serve. If you can get by with a supermarket goose and DIY your vegetables, bread, wine, and appetizers it's going to be less.

4alpacas

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #44 on: June 01, 2015, 05:03:08 PM »
$50 dinner at home had better be #!*&($ filet and lobster.

$8.99 / lb steaks when on sale (x2)
$7.99 / ea small lobster tails at Asian market (x2)
$8.99 Carnivore Cabernet Sauvignon (excellent reviews on this)
$0.25 /ea mashed/baked potato x2
$2       salad mix
$5        ben + jerry's pint
= <$50
I have plans tonight, but I'll be over tomorrow for dinner.  The menu sounds amazing!

cerebus

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #45 on: June 02, 2015, 12:21:23 AM »
$50 dinner at home had better be #!*&($ filet and lobster.

$8.99 / lb steaks when on sale (x2)
$7.99 / ea small lobster tails at Asian market (x2)
$8.99 Carnivore Cabernet Sauvignon (excellent reviews on this)
$0.25 /ea mashed/baked potato x2
$2       salad mix
$5        ben + jerry's pint
= <$50

I've eaten more decadently than that for less money.

Yeah but remember this is for the 2 of you plus your 2 guests so you need to use 4 steaks and lobster tails and maybe an additional bottle of sauvignon which brings it way over $50 for that meal.

meg_shannon

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #46 on: June 02, 2015, 04:30:28 AM »
I host dinner once a week because it is so much cheaper than going out, and it allows to spend more time with our friends. Plus we just moved so we're having to establish new friendships. Almost all of our friends have small children/babies so the meals are pretty low key. I can usually keep the meal price to 2-4$/person, excluding alcohol.

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #47 on: June 02, 2015, 07:50:03 AM »
$50 dinner at home had better be #!*&($ filet and lobster.

$8.99 / lb steaks when on sale (x2)
$7.99 / ea small lobster tails at Asian market (x2)
$8.99 Carnivore Cabernet Sauvignon (excellent reviews on this)
$0.25 /ea mashed/baked potato x2
$2       salad mix
$5        ben + jerry's pint
= <$50

I've eaten more decadently than that for less money.

Yeah but remember this is for the 2 of you plus your 2 guests so you need to use 4 steaks and lobster tails and maybe an additional bottle of sauvignon which brings it way over $50 for that meal.

A host graciously provides 1 glass with the main course; I might suggest a pre-poured water glass at each setting and coffee after the meal.

$8.99 / lb steaks when on sale (x2)
$7.99 / ea small lobster tails at Asian market (x4)
$8.99 Carnivore Cabernet Sauvignon (excellent reviews on this)
$0.25 /ea mashed/baked potato x4
$1.99  green beans
$2       salad mix
$5        ben + jerry's pint
$0 coffee (you have some in the cupboard right?)
= $51

That's a salad, 8oz steak, and 6-7 oz lobster, potatoes, some fresh/frozen beans, and dessert for $51 for 4 people.  I have nearly a decade in the service industry. We used to take turns preparing a late night party meal that was frequently fancier than the place we worked. I've had everything from vodka sauce pasta to filet, braised lamb and prawns. Nobody is ever mad that they finish the bottle of wine. After the $9 bottle, you can break out the Miller or the $4 wine (plenty to choose from).

cerebus

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #48 on: June 02, 2015, 08:09:51 AM »

A host graciously provides 1 glass with the main course; I might suggest a pre-poured water glass at each setting and coffee after the meal.

$8.99 / lb steaks when on sale (x2)
$7.99 / ea small lobster tails at Asian market (x4)
$8.99 Carnivore Cabernet Sauvignon (excellent reviews on this)
$0.25 /ea mashed/baked potato x4
$1.99  green beans
$2       salad mix
$5        ben + jerry's pint
$0 coffee (you have some in the cupboard right?)
= $51

That's a salad, 8oz steak, and 6-7 oz lobster, potatoes, some fresh/frozen beans, and dessert for $51 for 4 people.  I have nearly a decade in the service industry. We used to take turns preparing a late night party meal that was frequently fancier than the place we worked. I've had everything from vodka sauce pasta to filet, braised lamb and prawns. Nobody is ever mad that they finish the bottle of wine. After the $9 bottle, you can break out the Miller or the $4 wine (plenty to choose from).

Okay fair enough, that's a pretty great meal for around $50 for 4 people. Recently I wanted to make a wellington for some guests but then realized that the cut of tenderloin alone was around R250. I guess though even if you did get one ingredient that was so expensive you can still make the rest of the food less pricey to compensate, and that to me is on the high end of luxury eating. I could have still made that meal for under R600 ($50) for 4 people. I generally won't ever spend that kind of money on cooking though, I just don't have it to blow.

Bob W

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Re: Cooking for guests is too expensive!
« Reply #49 on: June 02, 2015, 09:43:17 AM »
We entertain family and a few close friends often.   I is easy to overspend but here are some tricks.

Booze is cheap -- A couple of big nicely mixed vodka based drinks prior to dinner makes any meal a 5 star dinner.   We like to barbeque.   So it is usually chicken, ribs, tips.   I always have enough left over smoked meat to last the week for us.  The meat cost is usually $2 lb.    Throw on some 50 cent corn cobs and some mashed potatoes and bam,  bam.. 

It does get pricy if we provide the bottled beer for my wife's adult kids.  They drink a lot and $50 would just be a starting point for the beer tab.   (well to be honest they drink the same amount as us)  Usually they bring some beer though.

My guess is that for a similar meal/experience at a restaurant (who ever had a personal chef at a restaurant who sings all the words to the songs playing on the radio while cooking in their swim suit?)  the tab would be easily over $300 at a TGIF. 

The thing to remember about entertaining is that it is "entertaining."     A dish of ice cream with some flaming cheap brandy is pretty fun.    Tell jokes,  pass around your favorite electronic device photos/videos.   

Our new fun thing is the GoogleSky app.    We spent over an hour last time checking out al the planets and stars.    A lively board type game can be a blast as well.