How do we afford to have people over for dinner? - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-21-2011, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We used to just buy cheap junk like hot dogs, hamburgers, and such. Now all we are buying is free-range meat and organic veggies. How can we feed people without blowing our budget?  I know people often expect something like chicken or burgers...We are getting used to the fact that no one in the past (without factory farming) could have just made 8 chicken breasts or legs at a time or something. I don't think most families could have ever afforded to kill so many chickens for only one meal! I am not sure if we will just have to go buy regular stuff at the grocery store to feed our friends and be good hosts. ;-\

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Old 04-21-2011, 04:47 PM
 
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I know! We don't buy organic veggies, but we do buy free-range meat and eggs, MSG-free nitrate-free stuff, generally high-quality ingredients... and it adds up. We're a family of three, and the other night we had seven guests over... I was panicking about what to cook for them! Ordinarily I'd do some kind of dish in which there was minimal meat, lots of veggies and lots of carbs; but DH and our flatmate are on the Atkins diet, so I had to come up with a carb-lite main course.

 

My solution? Filled up the guests first with French onion soup and homemade bread (both cheap!); DH and flatmate didn't have the appetisers.... which was actually kinda awesome, because DH was free to serve everyone and refill our drinks! :p Main course was shepherd's pie (mince is cheaper than most other meats), with a cauliflower mash instead of potato mash; and veggies. Then for dessert I made a cheesecake, which was kind of expensive but doubled up for a birthday party the next night.

 

It still wasn't the cheapest meal ever, but way cheaper than steaks or chicken breasts. DH and I considered cooking two whole chickens, but the non-hormone-pumped free range ones are pretty small; two still wouldn't have fed us all, and three wouldn't have fit in the oven!

 

Another option is to make vegetarian or almost-vegetarian food... nachoes with beans, homemade baked beans (with maybe a touch of ham or bacon in 'em), etc. I have some yummy lentil-based recipes, but I have to kinda suss out my guests... some people love 'em, others would be horrified if I tried to feed them lentils. :p

 

Or you could have a BBQ and ask everyone to bring something! We do that fairly often in summer - we have a pretty casual group of friends, and nobody gets offended by "Smokering's making her homemade focaccia and ice cream and fudge, A can bring chips and dip, B can bring drinks, C and D can get the meat and E can bring a salad". It's not exactly Martha Stewart, but it means we can afford get-togethers more often.

 

 


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Old 04-21-2011, 04:48 PM
 
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Make stuff that just has a little bit of meat per serving (if you feel you need to use meat at all). Pasta and rice dishes are great for this...or oven roast one or two chickens. Not everyone needs to eat a breast!

When my large family gets together there is usually one big meat thingie (like a leg of lamb or a turkey) that they get locally and then a bunch of salads and side dishes (ETA: my family gatherings usually involve like thirty people). They buy the meat from farmers and split the cuts so everyone gets a good deal, and then they freeze it.

I am more of a vegetarian type though so I don't see the big deal with feeding a crew homemade pesto-veggie lasagne and bread and calling it good. My mom on the other hand would not consider that a "real" meal because its not "balanced". I guess it depends on your guests.
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:03 PM
 
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Make your own pizza night!  Pizza dough is cheap to make and veggies go pretty far when they are on the top of a pizza. Most people don't "expect" meat on a pizza.

 

We often do a lot pasta too.  A big pot of spaghetti with sauce, a salad and some garlic bread?  Yum!

 

I am also at a point in my life that I will budget for a real "dinner party" and if that means I can't do it as often, well that's OK.  

 

But I am also at a point where I have great group of friends who love a good casual get together too and aren't going to let money stand in the way of getting together.  These are the friends that we often see on a Friday or Saturday night for an "unwritten" potluck.  Unwritten in that we all pitch in no matter whose house it (usually mine!). So when I say c'mon on over this Friday night someone inevitably says "I'll bring the salad", "I'll bring a movie for the kids!", "I'll bring desert!". Keeps the costs down and keep the togetherness up.


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Old 04-21-2011, 06:00 PM
 
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The PPs all have great ideas.  I'll add a few more of what we do:

Winter is great for soups, chili or baked pasta dishes.  Very satisfying and not expensive.

Summer brings more main dish salads.  I make a chicken and wild rice salad--not a ton of meat so affordable but really filling too--that our whole family loves.  My mom makes a Greek pasta salad that's always popular.  I've also done a pasta salad with chicken and pesto that goes over well. 


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Old 04-22-2011, 09:49 AM
 
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There are a few things to keep in mind that might help. 

 

First of all, a typical meat portion is 3oz. or about 85 grams.  From one chicken, the whole breast could have 6 - 8 servings.  You mention that "in the past", but people "in the past" didn't eat a whole chicken breast by themselves.  So, knowing that a whole chicken breast is two sides, then in one chicken you could absolutely serve many people from the breast alone (at least 4, if not more... in fact, I serve all 4 of us, 3 adults and a child, from one half of a whole chicken breast, and that's with the meat as the main and not part of a casserole/hash).  The other thing is that the meat and stock from a single bird should be able to make more than one meal, even for many guests.  From a single bird, if the meat is part of a dish and not the main, you can probably serve 20 - 30 people.  A very inexpensive meal would be chicken with handmade dumplings.  There are MANY chicken casseroles that are "company quality".  You don't have to serve the meat as the main, but as one component of the main.  Roast the chicken, use all of its parts, including roasting off the carcass and making a rich stock for the casserole.

 

Which leads me to... using all the parts of the animal.  Many butchers will give bones for free for the asking.  You could make a yummy Japanese broth as an appetizer that would cost next to nothing using just a cheap carrot, a couple of mushrooms, some celery and free beef stock made from the bones.  Get cheaper cuts of meat and make your own sausage.  There are many ways to get the flavor of meat with very little meat added.  Buy your meat by the animal or side, once a year at butchering time, and the cost of meat suddenly becomes close to what you pay for veg at the store.  I guarantee you that the steaks I grill are less per pound than the asparagus I buy from the grocery store.

 

Use beans as the filler and cook from dried.  This is probably our biggest savings.  I buy dried beans in bulk and use them in many things.  Rice is also an inexpensive filler.  You could have a dinner that is a "make-your-own" buffet of latin flavors that would utilize both of these inexpensive items.  Make your own tortillas, sauces, etc. and it really is economical.

 

One more thing, in a word... Indian.  Inexpensive, exotic, delicious, and downright easy to make.  Really many ethnic dishes are economical.  We eat a lot of Indian, North African, and Middle Eastern dishes and they are inexpensive, but would be entertainment quality.

 

I will say, however, when we entertain (about once a month), I tend to be a little more excessive and not try to save at those times.  I ENJOY putting out interesting and elegant food.   I am frugal out of principle, not out of need, but am less likely to scrimp when there are guests than I am when it's just the 4 of us.  I guess I consider having dinner guests as kind of an experience and I'd rather go all out and make a chateaubriand, seared scallops, or a standing rib roast than I would to try to stretch my dollars at that point by serving beans, rice, and inexpensive root veg.  Just some food for thought.  winky.gif

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Old 04-22-2011, 01:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the great ideas! I will have to look into some more ethnic recipes. It is just that some people don't like certain types of ethnic food, but almost everyone will eat "American" style stuff.

Another problem I have is diary and soy. We can't have it. I can certainly buy some for company as a topping but I can't eat it and we don't have it in the house anymore. I do make a pretty tasty pasta with mushrooms onions and tomatoes, though...

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Old 04-22-2011, 04:37 PM
 
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Honestly, at least in our group of friends (most of whom admittedly are both poor and into healthy food), it's never been a problem.  If I invite some friends over, they are in no way offended if it's a veggie meal.  Or if we're having a dish with lots of veggies and carbs and a little meat.  Things like soups.

 

The other thing we're big on for parties is potlucks.  For my birthday, we're inviting some... 20-30 people over (I don't think everyone will come, or else the house and yard will be PACKED but hey, that's what makes a party).  We've told folks it is a BBQ potluck.  We're planning on making little sliders with a few sauces (maybe a BBQ, an asian fusian sauce, and something else), and probably a bowl of potato salad and coleslaw. (Actually, I was like I want coleslaw and potato salad, and people will bring lots of goodies. Including 5 gallons of homebrewed beer and cake, I suspect it will be about 70-80 dollars. Which honestly works out to about 3-4 dollars a person, which is not bad. And that will include grass-fed meat. Because the sliders won't be portrayed as the main dish, but as a side. (We won't drink all 5 gallons of course).

 

Usually when we have guests over it costs us an extra dollar or two.  We almost never eat the classic meat, starch, veggie anyways. Throwing an extra cup of beans in a pot of soup costs almost nothing.  Even chicken frybread salads don't cost much more. We just add more of the less expensive bits usually, because that's what we can afford, and I know our friends would rather come over for dinner and eat veggies or whatever yummy but cheap thing we've made than not come over, because I would do the same.


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Old 04-22-2011, 05:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by puffingirl View Post

The PPs all have great ideas.  I'll add a few more of what we do:

Winter is great for soups, chili or baked pasta dishes.  Very satisfying and not expensive.

Summer brings more main dish salads.  I make a chicken and wild rice salad--not a ton of meat so affordable but really filling too--that our whole family loves.  My mom makes a Greek pasta salad that's always popular.  I've also done a pasta salad with chicken and pesto that goes over well. 



Would you mind sharing the recipe? thanks!

 

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Old 04-22-2011, 05:40 PM
 
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We are vegetarian but also low income and still seem to manage to make meals to feed other just because I use simple foods.  One meal that's usually a big hit even with the meat eaters is home made spicy black bean burgers with a side of sweet potato fries. 

 

Tonight we are cooking dinner for us and some friends and we are making an Indian dish that makes a ton of food..just cauliflower, organic potatoes and rice.  Cauliflower is on sale right now and the potatoes are usually not too badly priced either and we have a huge stock of rice in our pantry and we already have all of the seasonings.  I anticipate I might spend around $5 to get the cauliflower and potatoes on my way there.

 

Other options, like someone else seemed to mention is soup.  Soup usually makes a lot and then just whip up some baking soda buiscuits or corn bread..or splurge a little and get some artisan bread to go with it.


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Old 04-22-2011, 07:09 PM
 
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Would you mind sharing the recipe? thanks!

 

Sure!  I got the recipe from Cooking Light a few years ago and we eat it all the time.

 

Chicken & Wild Rice Salad

Cook 2 or 3 skinless boneless chicken breast halves any way you want (bake, pan fry or grill).  Set aside to cool, then cut into cubes.  Set aside.

Cook 1 1/2 cups wild rice in 2 cups of chicken broth (add a Tbsp of butter if you like--I do!).  Takes about 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop 1 cup celery and shred 1/2 cup of carrots.  2 Tbsp of chopped red onion is nice but DD doesn't like it, so I leave it out.

When the rice is done, cool it in a bowl a few minutes. 

Add the chicken and the veggies to the rice. 

Make the dressing:  1/4 c white wine vinegar (the recipe says fig vinegar but I never have that), 1 tsp dijon mustard, 2 tsp sweetener (I use agave, the recipe says sugar), 2 Tbsp canola oil, 1 clove minced garlic, salt and pepper. Mix.

Pour dressing on salad.  Add 1/3 c. dried cranberries.  Stir, cover and chill.

When ready to serve add some toasted nuts on top (the recipe calls for sliced almonds, I use whatever is here--this week was walnuts). 

 

This is great when you want to make something ahead of time.  We bring it to potlucks a lot and people have always liked it.  Hope you enjoy!!




 

 


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Old 04-22-2011, 10:52 PM
 
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sometimes, when i know that people we are having over dont care at all about "organic" or "local", i will go to the supermarket and just buy supermarket cheap meat. it won't kill me and it will save my budget.

i also rarely serve things like chicken breast. it would be insanely expensive, and i also like to be more creative.

if i dont have a whole lot of time, i will throw together a lasagna like the day before, and make some garlic bread and salad. A huge lasagna that will feed your guests and still provide lunch for the next day only uses about 1-2 pounds of meat.

i also make crepes with all sorts of fillings, usually depending on what i have in the fridge. usually it is some sort of meat and rice or cuscus or quinoa, some veggies. by far my absolute fav are the ones with mushroom, kale (or chard or spinach) and cheese. people are always so impressed. most people think its incredibly hard to make crepes, but its not, and it doesnt take a lot of time either. they make wonderful desserts, too!

i started making soups as an "appetizer", it fills people up, and there i usually make enough to last us the rest of the week, too.

you just have to look carefully around your kitchen, and not be shy. like we had people over around thanksgiving, and i kept looking at this big pumpkin we had sitting in the kitchen and i just kept thinking of how great it would be to incorporate it in the meal. so i ended up finding a recipe for a baked stuffed pumpkin, altered it according to ingredients i had, and ended up with a pumpkin stuffed with veggies, cheese and orzo (plus a little cream), when it was done, it looked absolutely gorgeous, all baked and brownish-orange, people were even taking pictures of it, and everyone jusr devoured what was inside, scooping it out with a little pumpkin from the inside walls... it was very cool, and cheap!!! and no meat!!!

be daring. in a lot of cases, i will make a version of what we regularly eat, just make it "fancy"... use herbs or a sauce, or decorate it nicely.

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Old 04-22-2011, 11:41 PM
 
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From one chicken, the whole breast could have 6 - 8 servings.  You mention that "in the past", but people "in the past" didn't eat a whole chicken breast by themselves.  So, knowing that a whole chicken breast is two sides, then in one chicken you could absolutely serve many people from the breast alone (at least 4, if not more... in fact, I serve all 4 of us, 3 adults and a child, from one half of a whole chicken breast, and that's with the meat as the main and not part of a casserole/hash). 

 

Honestly, if the budget is so tight that you're going to try feeding 3 or 4 people off of one half of a chicken breast, I would question why you're feeding company.  If I were your guest, I'd feel extremely guilty, like I was taking food out of your family's mouths.  
 

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Thanks for all the great ideas! I will have to look into some more ethnic recipes. It is just that some people don't like certain types of ethnic food, but almost everyone will eat "American" style stuff.

Another problem I have is diary and soy. We can't have it. I can certainly buy some for company as a topping but I can't eat it and we don't have it in the house anymore. I do make a pretty tasty pasta with mushrooms onions and tomatoes, though...


Soy is not necessary for almost anything.  That's just the way it is.  Our society's dependence on soy is artificially created.  Other than miso and edamame, I haven't had any soy in the house for years.  As for dairy, that's easy enough to plan around if you don't have your heart set on mac & cheese or something similar.  

 

As for the ethnic foods - are you *afraid* some people wouldn't like them, or do you *know* some people wouldn't like them?  I always ask if there are certain foods I need to avoid when planning a meal for guests.  If it's not on the list, then I don't worry about it.   And I never share the menu before-hand because it is subject to change up until I do my grocery shopping.  I know that one friend can't have honey or peanuts, my BIL can't have walnuts, another friend can't have cilantro, etc.  Those things are easy enough to work around.  I even know that certain friends don't like certain things - one doesn't like mushrooms or onions, another doesn't like any seafood, one family is vegan.  I'm willing to do my best to accomodate these preferences, but there may be a dish on the table they don't care to eat.  I'm happy to warn the vegan family that this dish contains animal products, or warn my friend that this dish has mushrooms.  But if they were to make a comment about it after I warned them, they probably wouldn't be invited back. That's just rude.   I have known some people that would make a face or a comment if I were to suggest X food.  But if I place the food in front of them without having that conversation first, they will almost always try it, and usually like it.  I have a reputation for making good food, so if I put food in front of someone, I expect them to at least try it - if they didn't they wouldn't get invited back.  

 

I will agree with the pps that ethnic cuisine can be really cheap to make, and easily dairy-free also.  Few of these countries rely on dairy like the US.  It really depends on the atmosphere you're trying to present which way to go.  A Thai curry makes a beautiful dinner with a big pot of rice.  Lots of veggies, maybe a little meat (maybe not), fresh herbs.  Casual one-pot dining.  Indian food is very easy to make a little fancier.  I love Saag Aloo (spinach and potatoes), Channa Masala (Chickpea Curry) and Fragrant Rice with Cauliflower.  Very cheap meal.  You can add some naan bread if you like, although it's not necessary.  A bowl of yogurt on the side.  If you feel the need for a meat dish, there are several that use ground beef or lamb, which makes it easier to stretch it.  Another veggie dish can make everything go a little further, but last time I made this meal was to take to a pp friend, I took them enough for 2 meals for 3 people and had enough left at home for 1 dinner for 2 and lunch for another day or two.  It really makes a LOT of food.  
 

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Originally Posted by Gator-mom View Post

We are vegetarian but also low income and still seem to manage to make meals to feed other just because I use simple foods.  One meal that's usually a big hit even with the meat eaters is home made spicy black bean burgers with a side of sweet potato fries. 



Could we get the recipe to that?  Please?  

 

Other dishes that can stretch - a big ole pot of chicken & dumplings could easily feed 8 or 10 or 12.  Add a big ole green salad on the side.  

Baked potatoes with chili is a great casual meal - whether for a Super Bowl party or a winter gathering.  Add some veggies and dip on the side and play some board games rather than sitting down to a formal dinner.  

What we had for dinner tonight could easily stretch... I braised a big old beef roast until it was shredding.  So we wound up with a big mound of shredded beef (like pulled pork).  I made twice baked potatoes to serve with it - each potato the size of my fist made 2 servings of potatoes.  Add a green veggie and maybe some bread/rolls and you'd have a lovely meal.

 

I do also agree with the pp - depending on who (and how many) I'm serving, I might buy lesser quality meat.  We only buy local pastured meat for ourselves, and if we're only having 1 or 2 guests I'm fine with sticking with that.  But if we're having 4 or 5 I might wander down to WF and just get plain organic.  If we're having 20, I'll probably go to Costco and get whatever's cheap.  

 

Oh, and cheap appetizers are also a great place to start.  Let them fill up on those before you even get to the dinner table.  Homemade hummus and veggies is a great one.  Most people are seriously intimidated by the idea of making hummus, but it's actually pretty easy.  You'll get plenty of accolades for it.  And if you start with dry beans, it's seriously cheap.  

Another relatively cheap one is tortellini in sauce.  If you buy the dried tortellini they're cheap, and they hold up for this better than the fresh.  Then just serve with toothpicks and a small bowl of a pasta sauce - pesto, alfredo, marinara, etc.  

Even just a nice loaf of bread with olive oil for dipping.  

 

And for cheap desserts, there are tons of choices, again, depending on the atmosphere you're going for, and the meal you served.  Toss a bag of frozen pineapple chunks into the food processor and it's pineapple ice.  An ice cream machine means coconut milk sorbet is easy (and pairs nicely with many ethnic cuisines).  Cupcakes or even some interesting cookies can be plenty depending on the audience.  


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Old 04-23-2011, 06:43 AM
 
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Thanks for all the great ideas! I will have to look into some more ethnic recipes. It is just that some people don't like certain types of ethnic food, but almost everyone will eat "American" style stuff.


I guess it could be because my dh is not American and I've lived and traveled abroad for much of my adult life (25 years or so), but I find the exact opposite to be true.  In fact, most of our friends relish the thought of having a dinner party that is ethnic because it often gives them a chance to try something new that they don't have to go to the trouble of making.   We enjoy eating at their homes, as well, for the same reason.  You might give it a try.  It's worth a shot.  Some of my dd's (9) favorite dishes came about from trying new things in our travels or eating authentic ethnic at friends' and colleagues' homes.  Particularly when dishes originate from poor countries, they often have ingenious ways of making up for a lack of meat with other delicious and inexpensive ingredients.  Good luck!

 

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Old 04-23-2011, 07:01 AM
 
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Honestly, if the budget is so tight that you're going to try feeding 3 or 4 people off of one half of a chicken breast, I would question why you're feeding company.  If I were your guest, I'd feel extremely guilty, like I was taking food out of your family's mouths. 

 

My personal budget is never that tight as we are fine, financially, but it can certainly be done if needed.  And when I do serve portions of that size, I usually have more than one serving each.  Actually, when we have friends over, because we have some with religious restrictions or personal preferences, I'll make a few different meats.  Then there are the many, many sides, hors d'oeuvres, cheese & fruit tray, etc. that I usually put out and fill in the rest of the gaps.  Small portions of meat are not seen as being stingy if you have the rest of your menu filled out properly.  For the 20 we are having next weekend (May Day), I have 4lbs. of grass-fed beef for hamburgers, 3 full racks of ribs, and chicken breasts as the meats.  The chicken breasts will be cut into 3 - 4 ounce portions, the burgers will be 4 ounce portions and the ribs will be served two per portion.  I'll have 16 hamburgers, 12 portions of chicken, and 18 - 20 portions of ribs.  I don't think anyone will feel guilty just because the portions are not huge.

 

My point is not that you scrimp on the meats, but watch out how you portion them.  If I'm given an 8oz. chicken breast half, I'm likely to eat it all.  However, if I'm given a 3 - 4 ounce chicken breast portion, I probably would not go back for seconds because an entire second portion would be too much.  This is something I learned from the catering business.  People will eat the portion you give them.  Give them smaller portions and they are still full and satisfied, not stuffed, and don't feel cheated.  Besides, if you're a guest that feels guilty for taking food out of my family's mouth, then you're probably not a friend to begin with.  Culturally, food is a universal means of communication and friendship.  We've shared many meals when we've been abroad where there was just a meager portion of an item that was shared by all.  No guilt feelings, just camaraderie.  Just because you can't put out a lavish, 7-course spread doesn't mean you can't share food, drink, and fun with friends. 

 

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Old 04-23-2011, 10:09 AM
 
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POTLUCKS!

 

I probably never invited people over without asking them to bring stuff.  And I never go to someone else's house without bringing something.

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Old 04-23-2011, 10:33 AM
 
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I don't think this is true, at all. 20-30 people? No way. I have a family of 6 and we can eat a small chicken for dinner with brown rice or veggies or whatever. No way can a chicken serve 30 people, unless it's some behemoth 20 lbs bird.
 

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Originally Posted by velochic View Post

There are a few things to keep in mind that might help. 

 

First of all, a typical meat portion is 3oz. or about 85 grams.  From one chicken, the whole breast could have 6 - 8 servings.  You mention that "in the past", but people "in the past" didn't eat a whole chicken breast by themselves.  So, knowing that a whole chicken breast is two sides, then in one chicken you could absolutely serve many people from the breast alone (at least 4, if not more... in fact, I serve all 4 of us, 3 adults and a child, from one half of a whole chicken breast, and that's with the meat as the main and not part of a casserole/hash).  The other thing is that the meat and stock from a single bird should be able to make more than one meal, even for many guests.  From a single bird, if the meat is part of a dish and not the main, you can probably serve 20 - 30 people.  A very inexpensive meal would be chicken with handmade dumplings.  There are MANY chicken casseroles that are "company quality".  You don't have to serve the meat as the main, but as one component of the main.  Roast the chicken, use all of its parts, including roasting off the carcass and making a rich stock for the casserole.

 

Which leads me to... using all the parts of the animal.  Many butchers will give bones for free for the asking.  You could make a yummy Japanese broth as an appetizer that would cost next to nothing using just a cheap carrot, a couple of mushrooms, some celery and free beef stock made from the bones.  Get cheaper cuts of meat and make your own sausage.  There are many ways to get the flavor of meat with very little meat added.  Buy your meat by the animal or side, once a year at butchering time, and the cost of meat suddenly becomes close to what you pay for veg at the store.  I guarantee you that the steaks I grill are less per pound than the asparagus I buy from the grocery store.

 

Use beans as the filler and cook from dried.  This is probably our biggest savings.  I buy dried beans in bulk and use them in many things.  Rice is also an inexpensive filler.  You could have a dinner that is a "make-your-own" buffet of latin flavors that would utilize both of these inexpensive items.  Make your own tortillas, sauces, etc. and it really is economical.

 

One more thing, in a word... Indian.  Inexpensive, exotic, delicious, and downright easy to make.  Really many ethnic dishes are economical.  We eat a lot of Indian, North African, and Middle Eastern dishes and they are inexpensive, but would be entertainment quality.

 

I will say, however, when we entertain (about once a month), I tend to be a little more excessive and not try to save at those times.  I ENJOY putting out interesting and elegant food.   I am frugal out of principle, not out of need, but am less likely to scrimp when there are guests than I am when it's just the 4 of us.  I guess I consider having dinner guests as kind of an experience and I'd rather go all out and make a chateaubriand, seared scallops, or a standing rib roast than I would to try to stretch my dollars at that point by serving beans, rice, and inexpensive root veg.  Just some food for thought.  winky.gif



 


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Old 04-23-2011, 12:03 PM
 
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Spicy Black Bean burgers:

 

I can't find the original recipe..I just make it from memory now.  So I'll tell you what i put in it and you can estimate the amounts..

 

1 can black beans or 2 cups cooked

saute'd onions, garlic and bell or jalepeno pepper

bread crumbs

frozen corn kernels

salsa

cumin

chili powder

salt

 

Basically, mash the black beans up, add in the rest of the goods..you might want to play with how much bread crumbs vs salsa to get it to stick together well.  Then make patties, dip the patties in some flour and fry in oil.  Keep in mind that these are going to be a lot like sloppy joe consistencey..home made bean burgers just don't solidify very well.  Just tell your guests to expect to get messy but that it's worth it for the flavor!! 

 

Garnish with ranch and avocado for a yummy twist!

 

This is always a winner with vegetarians and non-vegetarians.  Even my uncle who only eats 4 things: spaghetti, burgers, lasagna and pizza; loves them!

 


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Old 04-23-2011, 02:29 PM
 
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I don't think this is true, at all. 20-30 people? No way. I have a family of 6 and we can eat a small chicken for dinner with brown rice or veggies or whatever. No way can a chicken serve 30 people, unless it's some behemoth 20 lbs bird.

Yeah, I don't get it either. I often see people on MDC saying that a chicken will last them for three meals (roast the first night, cold meat for quesadillas/casserole/whatever the second, the remaining meat and bones for chicken soup the third). We buy free-range chickens which are admittedly on the small side compared to conventional ones, but with three adults and a chicken-loving toddler in the house, one will barely feed us for a meal - and that's with roasted veggies and gravy and peas and so on, not just a slab of meat on a plate. Are American chickens so much more gigantic?

 

I do make a chicken casserole quite often for guests - I don't use a whole chicken, but I save a bit by using thigh meat as well as or instead of breast. And like a PP said, the meat does stretch further - people won't eat a whole half-breast when it's cooked in strips in a casserole. I can rarely finish a half-breast myself, so I don't think it's skimping or cheating people to serve them as much casserole as they can eat, knowing they won't be likely to eat as much. 30-40 grams per person does seem on the low side, though...


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Old 04-23-2011, 02:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissinNYC View Post

I don't think this is true, at all. 20-30 people? No way. I have a family of 6 and we can eat a small chicken for dinner with brown rice or veggies or whatever. No way can a chicken serve 30 people, unless it's some behemoth 20 lbs bird.


I've done it, so I know it can be done.  I don't think you read what I said.  I'm talking about the meat being part of another, larger dish.  I made a main dish of chicken and dumplings from a single 5lb. bird that fed over 30 people.  Yes, it can be done.  If the center of the meal is the meat itself, then, sure, it's not going to feed 20 or 30 people.

 

A typical organic whole chicken makes 3 meals for the 4 of us (3 adults and a 9yo girl).  But meat is not the center of attention at each of these meals, except perhaps the first one when the chicken is roasted.  Perhaps you're not using a chicken to its full potential.  You should be getting a lot more than one meal for 6 out of your chicken, that's for sure.  Roast it, boil it, bake the bones, get the stock from it.  One chicken goes SO far if you know how to utilize all the parts of it (and yeah, I mean the liver and gizzards and neck and all).

 

Either that or your portions must be different than ours.

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Old 04-23-2011, 10:38 PM
 
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We do a 3 lb chicken as 3-4 meals here. There are only two of us, but the key is that we always do roast chicken on shabbat if we do roast chicken. Almost always, I get the chicken in a bit late, so we snack on challah before dinner, and by the time the chicken and veggies are ready, we've eaten half a loaf of challah.  It's not exactly healthy, but we always eat 1/2-3/4 loaf of challah on shabbat, it's our tradition, I guess.  That means we eat a breast or a breast and a half, and veggies.  Then the other breast or half breast gets thrown in with also eggs and tofu in a stir fry, or something where there is just a smidge of chicken, and then we often will do a leg a meal.  Sometimes we'll do two legs in a meal.  Plus wings for lunch.  Basically, even when we do roasted chicken, we don't eat the chicken as the main part of the meal, and every other meal pretty much is chicken in something else. (Like tonight was a chicken leg and two wings in curried lentils and potatoes, and rice.  There are still the wings and lots of curry left for tomarrow's lunch)

But if we have roasted chicken at my mom's house, then yeah, we'll eat most of the chicken in a sitting (4 people). So if you want a chicken to last a long time, I don't recommend eating it as slices of roast chicken.


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Old 04-24-2011, 11:41 AM
 
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Bean soup and biscuits or tortillas, polenta served with beans and veggies, with pesto if I have some in the freezer stash or the garden has fresh basil for me, or, for something that dresses up nicely, pasta e'fagoli and a salad. Sometimes a big pot of refried beans, salsa, greens and tortillas, or if I want to do something more exciting, I can dip into my freezer stash of tamales ($100 made us more than 16 dozen tamales, split between 5 families, that was 3 dozen tamales for $20 plus plenty to gorge ourselves on the day we made them, I just cooked up a giant pot o'beans to serve alongside, put out chips, salsa and guacamole and we had a party).

 

 

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Old 04-24-2011, 12:04 PM
 
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We'll often do cheaper cuts of meat for company, like chicken thighs. They grill really well. Or some kind of dish that has meat in it, but isn't all meat, like a casserole or curry. We add lots of filler items, like bread/rolls or salad. Things like beef stroganoff work well because you don't have to use a ton of meat and you can go heavy on the pasta. 

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Old 04-24-2011, 07:33 PM
 
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Sometimes dh makes barbecue for guests.  It's an all day affair, so it makes it an event.  Pork butt is pretty cheap, too.  I went to a party recently where they served barbecue, and it was a big hit.  You can make 3 or 4 different sauces to try, which is fun, too.

 

I often do Tex-Mex food, heavy on the beans, lighter on the meat.  Even for more traditional meatier dishes, like fajitas, there are enough extras that it cuts down on the meat serving sizes. 

 

At this point in my life, I have 3 little kids under the age of 5, and I try to keep entertaining very, very casual.  This works out for me, because casual is often cheaper, adn it's all good.

 

I almost always serve lemonade, tea, and water in pitchers.  Somehow, having those drinks in pitchers looks fancier than any other options, and people will choose them before anything else.  Cheap, looks pretty, and it's festive.

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Old 04-25-2011, 10:21 PM
 
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I really like soup for guests.  Soup (veggie or meat), a grean salad and bread. 

 

Sometimes, if we are having more than a couple of people over, I will just make 3 different kinds of soups in crockpots (ie, chicken tortilla, beef barley and cream of potato) and that is always a hit.  soup tends to cost less (and be easier to prepare ahead of time). 

 

If we are talking a fancy dinner party, that is different.  But for casual, regular get-togethers, this is what I usually do.

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Old 04-28-2011, 10:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is such a great post!!! Thanks for all the responses. I am bookmarking it so I can come back to it.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

 

Yeah, I don't get it either. I often see people on MDC saying that a chicken will last them for three meals (roast the first night, cold meat for quesadillas/casserole/whatever the second, the remaining meat and bones for chicken soup the third). We buy free-range chickens which are admittedly on the small side compared to conventional ones, but with three adults and a chicken-loving toddler in the house, one will barely feed us for a meal - and that's with roasted veggies and gravy and peas and so on, not just a slab of meat on a plate. Are American chickens so much more gigantic?

 

I do make a chicken casserole quite often for guests - I don't use a whole chicken, but I save a bit by using thigh meat as well as or instead of breast. And like a PP said, the meat does stretch further - people won't eat a whole half-breast when it's cooked in strips in a casserole. I can rarely finish a half-breast myself, so I don't think it's skimping or cheating people to serve them as much casserole as they can eat, knowing they won't be likely to eat as much. 30-40 grams per person does seem on the low side, though...


We are only two people right now... so I can't say how it would be if we had two kids eating food, too, but we can make a chicken last three meals, too. I roast a chicken over carrots, potatoes and onions and then we have that for dinner. Then the next day for lunch, we often eat it again. Then I strip the chicken of whatever is left and have a very small bowl of shredded chicken. I can either throw that in some rice the next day, or add some onions and stuff and make 1 or 2 chicken salad sandwiches. Or I guess we could add a bit to a salad. Then, I take all the bones and skin (I will save them from the different meals, too) and throw everything into a stock pot with maybe an onion, carrot and celery stalk. That makes well over a gallon of stock for us to use in our rice. 

 

But my mom and stepdad brought over a cheap chicken from the grocery store and the 3 of us ate ALL of it. There was almost nothing left. They each had some broccoli and a potato with theirs. I put mine on salad. I think DH and I appreciate an $18 chicken a lot more than a $6 one and we take our time with it and consciously try to stretch it. Well, I know I do at least.

 

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Old 04-29-2011, 10:38 AM
 
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I'm going to refer back to this thread a lot. I don't know how to cook vegetarian type meals at all. The few that I've tried (either no meat or very low meat) have gone over really badly with everyone at the table. Even dd1 didn't like the honey lentil loaf (I did, but I was the only one). I keep wanting to make more changes in the amount of meat we eat, but I never know where to start, and I'm easily discouraged when the reception is so bad.

 

Maybe I'll try those spicy black bean burgers. It will go badly on the cooking end, because I get insanely frustrated by new recipes, but I think dh might even like them...

 

And, velochic - I like what you said about portions. I usually eat a full half breast myself. I love chicken breast, but I really don't need to eat that much at a meal. DH and ds1 both like the thighs, wings and legs, but the rest of us all eat the breast (ds2 can occasionally be convinced to eat a drumstick). And, I definitely need to make some more stock, but I seem to find it much more hassle/work that most people do, at least the way people talk about it.

 

 

ETA: Of course, we'll see what happens when I have a teenager again. When ds1 was going through his massive growth spurt (he was 12-13, and put on 6" of height and 30 pounds of weight, in six months), it wasn't unheard of for him to eat 4-5 chicken thighs at a single meal.


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Old 04-29-2011, 12:18 PM
 
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Honestly, if the budget is so tight that you're going to try feeding 3 or 4 people off of one half of a chicken breast, I would question why you're feeding company.  If I were your guest, I'd feel extremely guilty, like I was taking food out of your family's mouths.  
 


I realize my point here was not well conveyed. I was not trying to say that you shouldnt have guests. I was trying to say that I would rather eat a bowl of pasta and not kill your grocery budget than have you stressing over how you're going to feed your family the rest of the week/month because you needed to feed me meat.

I was raised in a tradition of feeding guests, and ive lived abroad in that culture also. When we had guests we fed them what we had - in Russia this was bread (we went through 3 loaves/day, minimum) and butter, maybe some cheese or jam, fried potatoes, possibly eggs, pickles, but very rarely meat. If there was a pot of soup on the stove, they'd have some of that. If there was a bowl of crepe batter, they'd eat those. As a family we were only getting meat maybe once a week, and there were 7 of us to feed, so it didnt go far. No guests were offended by the simple fare.

Back here in the US, we mostly only had guests for holidays, where we were going all out (the rest of the year additions to the dinner table were treated as family). Even so, 2 holidays a year were celebrated w the Russian side of the family, and bread played a big role, along w tins of smoked fish, pickles, cheese, etc. There was more quantity than i ever saw in Russia, but the fare was still simple. We made it a point every year to invite non-Russian friends and no one ever would have thought to complain.

I guess what i'm trying to say is that this is very much a first world conundrum. In the rest of the world, people share what they have/can afford without worrying about what their guests are going to think about the quality of the ingredients. In most cultures, so long as the guest doesnt leave the table hungry, they're happy. If you can try to adopt this approach, it's liable to be much less stressful.

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Old 05-01-2011, 07:53 PM
 
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And, I definitely need to make some more stock, but I seem to find it much more hassle/work that most people do, at least the way people talk about it.

I used to find it a lot of work, mostly on the straining/cooling/storing end, but we discovered a new technique that works great. We let the stock cool in the stockpot to room tempish, then ladle it out and through a strainer into 1 qt yogurt containers (about 1/2 to 3/4 full), which go straight into the freezer. It saves us a lot of work.

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Old 05-03-2011, 09:24 AM
 
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Originally Posted by cristeen View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by cristeen View Post



 

Honestly, if the budget is so tight that you're going to try feeding 3 or 4 people off of one half of a chicken breast, I would question why you're feeding company.  If I were your guest, I'd feel extremely guilty, like I was taking food out of your family's mouths.  
 




I realize my point here was not well conveyed. I was not trying to say that you shouldnt have guests. I was trying to say that I would rather eat a bowl of pasta and not kill your grocery budget than have you stressing over how you're going to feed your family the rest of the week/month because you needed to feed me meat.

I was raised in a tradition of feeding guests, and ive lived abroad in that culture also. When we had guests we fed them what we had - in Russia this was bread (we went through 3 loaves/day, minimum) and butter, maybe some cheese or jam, fried potatoes, possibly eggs, pickles, but very rarely meat. If there was a pot of soup on the stove, they'd have some of that. If there was a bowl of crepe batter, they'd eat those. As a family we were only getting meat maybe once a week, and there were 7 of us to feed, so it didnt go far. No guests were offended by the simple fare.

Back here in the US, we mostly only had guests for holidays, where we were going all out (the rest of the year additions to the dinner table were treated as family). Even so, 2 holidays a year were celebrated w the Russian side of the family, and bread played a big role, along w tins of smoked fish, pickles, cheese, etc. There was more quantity than i ever saw in Russia, but the fare was still simple. We made it a point every year to invite non-Russian friends and no one ever would have thought to complain.

I guess what i'm trying to say is that this is very much a first world conundrum. In the rest of the world, people share what they have/can afford without worrying about what their guests are going to think about the quality of the ingredients. In most cultures, so long as the guest doesnt leave the table hungry, they're happy. If you can try to adopt this approach, it's liable to be much less stressful.

 

I definitely agree with this.  Once a month or so we get the whole in-law family together for dinner.  We used to all go out to eat and it would be very expensive!  But now my MIL just makes a huge pot of marinara sauce, cooks some meatballs on the side makes a salad and a loaf of bread.  I think this meal could easily go without the meat balls..but I don't think she spends a ton of money on them.  The meal is fairly cheap and everyone loves it!  No one complains about it being too plain.  The point is to get together and enjoy ourselves..not to impress upon others the extravagance of food fare!
 

 


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