UACES Facebook Made at Home: Taste Buds on a Budget Series! Part 4: Entertaining
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Join me as I partner with University of Georgia FCS agent Becca Stackhouse to bring you a new food budgeting series. Learn ways to save money on food as you plan, shop, prepare, and entertain!

Made at Home: Taste Buds on a Budget Series! Part 4: Entertaining

by Katie Cullum

One of the things that I've missed most during this pandemic is getting together with real, live people!  I miss my small group on Sunday night (and our rotation of tacos, sandwiches, casserole/soup, pasta).  I miss potlucks, birthday celebrations, and having people over for dinner.  One day, I'm sure we'll be getting together again.  And when we do, I don't want to blow the budget on it!  Maybe I've saved money by not entertaining, but I'm sure we spent it all on snacks to eat at home!  

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I think I've suggested this before....because it is a very effective way to save money!  If you don't plan very well, you may decide that a shrimp and crab boil  would be fun.  So you invite your friends, and start buying the stuff....and realize that this may get out of hand.  So PLAN.

Are you going to have a complete meal?  Or maybe just appetizers? Maybe just some snacks to munch on while watching the game?  Or are you going to celebrate a birthday with cake & ice cream? Or cake, ice cream, little smokies, vegetables, fruits, hot dogs, etc.?  Are you going to be outside or inside?  

Make a plan first!  And make sure your plan works for your budget.  


One of the more expensive parts of entertaining is the main dish or protein.  Prime rib and fresh shrimp sounds really good, but is it in your budget?  

Look for sales - check out sale flyers, social media for your local grocery stores, and specials to get good deals on the protein.  

Use inexpensive cuts of meat - low and slow can turn a tough cut into mouth-watering BBQ.  I like to cook kalua pork in my slow cooker - it's not too expensive per pound, it's easy, and the slow cooker does most of the work while I get other things ready.  

Ask for Help!

Especially after a pandemic, people will be ready to party and will probably ask you what they can bring.  So let them help!  Potlucks help spread the cost around.  

People also like to bring food that they eat.  Lots of people have allergies, sensitivities, strong dislikes/likes, so bringing a dish they can eat may be welcome!  


glass pitcher with infused water
Infused water is healthy, refreshing, and can be inexpensive.

You may be on budget with the protein, but what about drinks?  If you serve alcohol, the cost will definitely go up.  

Depending on the event, could you use real glasses or your plastic cups instead of buying disposable?  Do you really need bottles of water or sodas, or could you serve lemonade you mixed up?  What about some infused water? I would really enjoy a healthy option!

Instead of buying ice at the last minute, use your icemaker!  A few days ahead, empty the icemaker into a bucket or bag in the freezer. 

Keep It Simple

This tip is probably the best one besides Plan.  Are you trying to impress everyone with your Pinterest-worthy bash?  Or do you just want to have fun with friends?  You don't really need 3 main dishes, 10 sides, and 5 desserts do you? 

Keep it simple. Pick 1 main dish from what's on sale, 2-3 sides, and 1 dessert.  That should be sufficient!  

DIY - cut up your own veggies instead of buying a big tray.  You can use the leftovers in a salad, omelets, egg muffins, casseroles, etc.  And you got to pick what you like!


Guests may not need much entertaining.  And they may not like games anyway.  But it wouldn't hurt to have a few board games available for inside, and some outdoor games for the outside crew.  Don't rush out and buy a bunch of games though - ask friends or neighbors if you don't have much yourself.  


You can probably do this yourself also! Again, keep it simple.  No need to buy up every shamrock for St. Patrick's Day.  

Check out dollar stores for inexpensive decorations.  I prefer to get solid colors that can be used for multiple occasions.  I got some red sheets on clearance - and I use one for a Christmas tree skirt.  I can use them as tablecloths for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Memorial Day, July Fourth, and more!  Be flexible.  Use what you have - you can use pretty glasses or other stuff hanging out in the cabinets!  

Keep clean up in mind.  Do you need lots of trash bags?  If you use all disposable plates and cups, you may!  If you use a mix of your everyday plates and glasses, maybe not as many trash bags.  Do you have a dishwasher? It wouldn't take long to wash your dishes, and you'd have less trash and mess.  

I hope this tips help you save a little money when you host your next bash!

Becca's Cowboy Caviar

1 Can Black Eyed Peas, drained
1/3 cup Diced Green Onion
1/3 cup Diced Green Bell Pepper
1 Small Tomato, diced
1/2 bunch Fresh Cilantro

3 tbps Lime Juice
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt free Seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper

  • Rinse black-eyed peas into a colander and then pour into medium bowl.
  • Rinse green onion. Cut off ends. Slice into thin pieces to make 1/3 cup. Add to black-eyed peas.
  • Rinse bell pepper. Place on cutting board. Cut off the top. Remove seeds inside.  Dice into small pieces. Add to black-eyed pea mixture.
  • Rinse tomato. Remove stem and core. Dice into small pieces. Add to black-eyed pea mixture.
  • Rinse cilantro. Remove stems. Chop leaves into small pieces. Add to black-eyed pea mixture.
  • Combine lime juice, oil, salt-free seasoning, and black pepper in small bowl. Stir well.
  • Pour lime juice mixture over black-eyed pea mixture in medium bowl. Stir well.



If you missed one of the previous sessions, check them out below!

Made at Home: Taste Buds on a Budget - check out the whole series!

Part 1: Planning