Monday, January 13, 2014

Entertaining on the Cheap

Happy Monday!  I hope it hasn’t been too rough so far.

This past weekend, Zach and I had our friends, Decatur and Deana, over for a couple days.  They traveled from the far away, exotic land of Indiana.  We found some great ways to pass the time without breaking the budget.

To begin, you need friends that understand your situation.   Keeping it a secret will only make your weekend awkward, and it’s guaranteed you will go over your budget.   If you need big events to get your friends to visit you, they’re probably not great friends.  The star of the show should be you!  Well, this time it was us and Tutu.  She’s the brightest star in our house these days!

So, once you have good friends on lock, you have to feed them!  Usually this entails a flurry of restaurants.  Well, if you cook for them you not only save money on food, but on gas as well!  It’s a win-win.  Zach wanted to have a food theme: Mexican.  For lunch, Zach made a spread consisting of cilantro-lime rice (a la Chipotle), beans, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, tortillas, and a fake taco “meat” (we’ll discuss that in another post).   It was a little taco bar.  None of these items cost a lot, but everything was delicious and super filling (plus all the leftovers will make awesome taco salads throughout the week!).  For dinner, we had Taco Soup.  This is a Weight Watchers recipe my grandma gave me years ago.  It is so quick and easy.  You just put 2 cans of black beans, 2 cans of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), and a half packet of taco seasoning in a pot.  Then add V8 juice until you get the consistency you like.  We eat it more like a dip with chips, so we don’t add a lot of V8.  Put it on the stove till it’s hot.  Done.  Serve with tortilla chips.  That is my cheapest recipe.  It also feeds an army.  We make it vegan, but you can also brown ground sirloin (that’s what the original recipe says) and add it to the soup.  After the four of us had dinner, I ended up refrigerating about 8 servings that we can eat throughout the week.

So, the Mexican theme only lasted through Saturday (our Kroger didn’t have eggs because of the snow last week, so breakfast burritos were a no go).  Sunday morning brought a baby that slept in till 6:30 (!) and pumpkin spice muffins.  We stole this one from my best friend, Kiley.  She brought them over at Christmas, and we fell in love.  Stir one can of pumpkin pie filling into one box of spice cake mix.  Bake them for about 20 minutes at 350 and you’re done!  I could eat them just like that, but everyone seems to like chocolate chips in them.  Again, inexpensive, and we have muffins for a couple days.

Decatur and Deana were nice enough to bring some beer (they work next to an amazing brewery).  We played games, watched Game of Thrones (I tried to keep busy.  That show is waaaaaay too violent for me.), and talked.  It was relaxing and no fuss.  We needed that after our first holiday season with the baby. 
To top off our weekend, our wonderful friends took us to Flat Top for lunch on them!  We have the best friends.

Do you have any money saving tips for entertaining friends?  We went easy with games, but I’m sure you have more creative ideas!

With love,

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