Please welcome back the Laurie of The Frugal Farmer. She was so sweet to submit two posts for my maternity leave, and I really, really appreciate it!! In case you didn’t read her last post, Laurie is an awesome mama, blogger, and debt repayment queen. You’ll love her tips on how to serve a frugal Easter dinner. Thanks again, Laurie!
We in the Frugal Farmer family love, love, love to have people over and serve them a nice big meal, especially on holidays. However, feeding a big group of people on a budget can get tricky. We love to show kindness to others by preparing a meal for them, but we’re also on a tight budget as we work toward debt freedom. Over the years, we’ve learned tricks and tips for hosting holiday meal gatherings and yet still keeping the costs reasonable. Here are some of our tips:
Know When to Choose Homemade and When to Choose Store-Bought
Homemade foods are nearly always cheaper, especially when it comes to things like breads, desserts and side dishes, but sometimes store-bought is the better way to go. For instance, last Thanksgiving, I toyed with making homemade bread rolls to serve to our group of twenty, but when the generic brown n’ serves went on sale for a buck a bag, I knew this was the way to go. The cost comparison was similar to the homemade version, and the work it would save me was priceless. J Another thing we did differently on Thanksgiving this year was that we made our stuffing with bread crumbs from home instead of store-bought bread crumbs. I’d learned a tip on another blog about saving the ends (or crusts) of your bread loaves in a freezer bag and freezing them in the weeks before Thanksgiving and using those as your bread stuffing base. So, instead of paying $3 a bag (we usually buy at least two bags) for store-bought bread crumbs, we used our bread loaf ends, which we had been throwing away, and had likely the best stuffing we’ve ever served. Having a good idea of what foods cost in their raw state and what a comparable processed item would cost will help you to make quick and wise decisions about which option will be more cost effective.
People, in general, love to contribute to a big meal, so don’t be afraid to ask your guests if they’ll bring a thing or two. We’ve done this at our Easter and other holiday dinners for years now, and it not only saves on cost, but it adds a bit of fun to the festivities as we get to taste the cooking creations of others. I usually try and pick out the more expensive items, and dole out one to each family that joins us on holidays, leaving the hard work and more inexpensive items to us.
Be Choosy About Serving Alcohol
On Easter and other holidays, serving alcohol for 20-30 people can get expensive real quick. We handle this one of two ways: we either just serve pop and milk, inviting guests to bring anything else they might like on their own dime, or, we’ll pick up a more inexpensive 12-pack of beer and/or a cheaper bottle of wine, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. The rule though, at our house, is to never let spending on drinks of any kind get out of hand, as this can be a huge budget-breaker
Plan Frugal Activities
With Easter specifically, the activities generally center around the kids. We always buy a couple of bags of the cheap plastic Easter eggs, throw in some inexpensive candies and a few pennies, and the kids have a blast searching our large yard for the Easter eggs in their assigned color (this assures that everyone gets the same amount of eggs). You can also plan other outdoor games, depending on the weather, such as badminton/volleyball, croquet, or simply send the kids out for a good old-fashioned game of hide and seek. For winter holidays, choose activities like group games, family video slide shows, or fun movies to watch that fit the holiday you’re celebrating.
For the adults we make sure the sports options are available for them too, but mostly they’re quite happy simply sitting around and chatting.
With a little ingenuity, Easter dinner and other holiday dinners can be fun and entertaining without breaking the bank.
What are your favorite Easter and other holiday traditions?