When planning party and holiday foods, don’t lose sight of your budget. Just because you can think it up does not mean you have to serve it up! Sometimes, simple is better. Other times, you may need to substitute an inexpensive ingredient to replace the pricier option you just can’t scratch from the menu. That’s ok! No-one wants you to overextend your budget just because you have a wild imagination! In fact, many might think “girlfriend just over-extended herself on this here party, she shouldn’t have spent so much”.
As a stay-at-home-mom and someone who enjoys cooking and entertaining, I sometimes let my imagination soar farther than my food budget will allow me to go. That’s when I get creative and either come up with less expensive alternatives, or tone down my plans and realize that just because I had this really cool idea does not mean I have to actually follow through with it!
Here’s an example of when to scratch the expensive idea completely:
When I’m planning a child’s birthday party, all kinds of neat ideas pop into my head. I could rent several tables and get several table cloths to match, I can make centerpieces, I can create a candy buffet or get cute Indiana Jones hats for all the kids, and, and, and… Then I tell myself that if I do spend all this money on a party, I will be taking money away from my family’s food budget for the next month or two! Worse yet, some party planners might put the party favors on a credit card and pay it all back later. These thoughts are bad, Bad, BAD! Don’t fall into this trap, ladies and gentlemen! Noone but YOU knows that you thought up all those very cool but pricey ideas. Grab your eraser and take those off the list altogether.
Here’s an example of when to modify the pricey item to make it fit in the budget:
While preparing for a huge Thanksgiving feast, I wanted to serve a huge and beautiful, picture perfect turkey, and a spiral cut ham as the main proteins for my meal. I went to shop for said turkey and ham, and learned that if I bought a smaller turkey, I could get the grocery store’s special price. You know, the ones they use as bait- a $5-$7 turkey that they take a loss on just to get you in the store? But the “cheap” turkeys are all on the smallish side, little 14 pound gobblers. I wanted to serve a huge 21 pounder that blows the mind when seen right out of the oven. Then I turned on my logical brain power. Will my guests even SEE the huge bird before it is carved? If the answer is no, then for heaven’s sake, buy two of the cheap “bait turkeys” and serve the ham as the centerpiece! You’ll save some money, the food will taste just as good (if not better because now you can cook the turkey for taste instead of presentation), and your guests won’t even know the difference.
Serving a large meal to feed lots of people does not have to ruin your monthly budget. As long as you choose wisely, budget ahead, and plan carefully, you can serve an amazing meal that fits into your families budget. No-one but you knows you had elaborate plans that were scratched! Just put those ideas in your hat for later, when your budget will allow for some frivoulous spending!