Friends for dinner on the cheap

For the savvy savers among us, staying in may be the new going out, but if you’re hosting then the costs can really add up. Follow these tips to keep your dinner party within your budget without spoiling the fun – after all, your guests are there because they want to see you, not because they’re expecting a Michelin star meal.

1. Get everyone to bring something

To cut down the cost of the food, you could always allocate a different course to each guest. Let them know what you’re cooking for the main course, then divide up dessert, nibbles and so on between other guests.

If you’re cooking for people who live nearby, you could suggest a safari party – where you have each course in a different house – for something a bit different.

2. Pick your menu carefully

Making a big dish that everyone can share is a good way to keep the costs down. Paella, spaghetti bolognese, risotto, chilli or fajitas are all good options.

3. Go for cheaper wine

You can get wine at really good value in the supermarket these days, so take advantage of that. You’ll be able to pick up some bottles at half price at Tesco, plus they often run 2 for £10 offers.

4. Skip the non-essential courses

Don’t get carried away with your courses. You don’t need canapes, starters, a main course, desserts, cheese and coffee. Just get a few nibbles to start, followed by a big main course – that’ll be plenty. Add on a dessert if you want, but make it a cheap, fuss-free one!

5. Dinner party alternatives

If you’re really keen to have friends round but you’re worried about the cost of a dinner party, think of something else you could do instead. For a film night you could just buy some popcorn and crisps. Or maybe try a board game night with a few frozen pizzas on the side. There’s lots of fun to be had at home that doesn’t revolve around food.

6. Think about who you invite

You’ll probably enjoy a dinner party more if it’s smaller. It’ll be less stress and definitely less money. But also, you’re inviting people round and you’re going to spend money on them – so think about who to invite. If you have friends who are often keen to come round but never return the favour, it might be best to miss them off this time.

Where to next?

Cheap kids party
Cheap and easy recipes to cook with kids
10 great value drinks