by Randi Millward
We’ve got family coming in from California tomorrow. We’re excited to visit with them, but I’m also busy trying to think of quick, easy, inexpensive foods to serve. I like having company. Family is a blessing, not a burden, but entertaining does bring with it more expenses. Here are some tips to help you serve inexpensive end-of-the-summer picnics:
- Choose an inexpensive protein. Picnics don’t have to have fried chicken, grilled burgers, or even cold cuts. (Just ask a vegetarian!) Protein is expensive. Rather than making meat the main course, serve a variety of side dishes with deviled eggs and/or baked beans as the protein sources.
- Serve pasta. Pasta salads are easy inexpensive dishes that are easy to make in large batches.
- Serve local in-season fruit. You don’t have to go all out with a tropical or extravagant fruit salad. A simple tray of watermelon would work just as well as a bowl of mandarin orange salad with pine nuts and toasted coconut.
- Serve beverages in pitchers. You don’t have to offer bottles of water or cans of soda. You can easily make pitchers of water, lemonade, and iced tea for much less than the cost of individual beverages.
- Make it a potluck. Unless your guests are traveling a great distance to see you, it couldn’t hurt to ask them to bring a side dish or dessert.
- Exclude dessert. Desserts can get expensive, especially fruit pies and cheesecakes. If you’re already serving fruit, guests can satisfy their sweet tooth with fresh fruit.
- Serve what you’ve got. If you’re growing a garden, serve a lot of vegetable dishes like salads and crudites.
- Make it a theme party. Theme parties narrow down the variety of dishes and can greatly reduce the price of a picnic. Make it a salad and dessert party, a garden harvest party, or a pastapalooza.
- Be careful what time you schedule the party. If you have a party at or around a meal time, such as lunch or dinner, guests will eat more. If your party is at a time like 2-4 pm, your guests won’t be as hungry, so you won’t have to provide as much food.
Article by Randi Millward