With the lockdown relaxing in so many countries, we are sure to have many more get-togethers and parties with our extended family and friends. Most of us have big families and cooking for a crowd can be both, tiring and expensive. Many of us must have also drained out most of our savings by now, so having a night out at a pub or a restaurant may look like a distant dream for some of us. So, the need of the hour is to learn how to cook for a crowd on a tiny budget.
This can be done in a simpler way if we follow certain rules or tasks before hand. And yes, this can be done without really compromising on taste or quality. Meal planning on a budget doesn’t have to make you break the bank or overwhelm you. Let me show you how:
Start by planning ahead. Set a budget and make sure you stick to it, however much possible. This will ensure that you party hard, yet save money.
Plan the starters or appetisers. If you do not want to make it at home then feel free to serve some crisps or even some quick bites like crackers with cheese topped on it or even some nachos with some chilli con carne and cheese. This is definitely going to be a hit amongst kids and adults too! Maybe even have a light soup or broth. Whatever you fancy or whatever is your style…
Another point to remember is to cook some dishes well in advance or maybe even a couple of days before. Here, I would prefer making some Goan Sorpotel and maybe even some pickles or chutneys to serve with your main course. Another dish you can make in advance and keep is a Goan Chicken Xacuti.
Below is a list of pickles you can serve and these are sure to be a hit amongst your guests.
- Prawn Balchao
- Goan Tendli Pickle
- Goan Brinjal Pickle
- Sticky Lime Pickle
- Raw Mango Chutney
- Raw Mango Water Pickle
- Apple Pickle
If you like being extra, then why not serve your guests some homemade grape wine. You can start making it now itself with the lockdown going on and which should be ready for you to serve your guests once things get back to normal. Making wine at home is quite exciting, to be honest.
Besides that, you can also serve your guests with some roasted meats and poultry like this succulent lamb ribs in red wine or even the ultimate roasted Harissa chicken. They might not be the cheapest options or fit in your budget friendly meal but nevertheless I would still include it. It is best to marinate the meat a day before you big day, so you’ve got lesser things to do on that day itself.
Another tip to follow is to make some slow-cooked curries. A beef cafreal curry could be slow cooked too and its best to use the meat on the bone for that added flavour.
You can also have a pot luck instead of throwing a party yourself. Ask family and friends to get some dishes too prepped by them at their respective houses. Just enjoy the perfect kind of chilling and relaxing time with your loved ones after this lockdown ends, which already feels like we haven’t done that in forever.
CREATE A SHOPPING LIST
This is important to have a prelisted shopping list while preparing for the get-together. If you do not carry a shopping list, you are certain to over shop and in turn cross your set budget. That’s a big no no! So, just make a list of the essentials needed and then stick to that list.
Another way of staying within a budget or cooking on a budget for a crowd is checking for offers and discounts. If you’re getting rice and pasta on a discount then why spend an extra penny? Avail of any offers or discounts you find at the store. Put that on your shopping list too just so that you don’t forget.
You could also just shop online instead of popping down to the store which will let you cook for a crowd on a tiny budget more effectively. There’s a lot of offers and discounts which you could avail of and at the same time keep a check on your budget.
USE STUFF FROM YOUR PANTRY
Feeding a crowd on a budget can be daunting but then you’ve got those chickpea tins lying around in your pantry which you’ve almost forgotten about…Use them up. I’m sure most of us will also have some lentils in our pantries which we’d overstocked with during the lockdown. You could make some delicious and wholesome dal with it, if you’re going for an Indian menu for your get-together. If you’ve got some extra time then why not treat your guests with some desi style Rajma Chawal. That’s going to be a sure hit too amongst your guests.
If you check your pantry before going on that shopping trip, you can still cook for a crowd on a tiny budget without worrying about it too much.
Most of us will also have a lot of pasta or spaghetti lying around and there’s no harm in serving your guests with some Italian or Chinese mains. They’re surely going to be pleased. Everyone loves Italian food and even Chinese…I definitely do!! What about you? Comment down below and let me know what type of cuisine do you prefer.
Here are some pasta options:
- Spiced up garlicy noodles
- Veggie Stir fry noodles
- One pot veggie spaghetti
- Chino-Italian wedding pasta
Many of us will also have a lot of flour or self-raising flour in our pantries which is perfect to make some desserts. Some of these dessert can be made in advance. Here are some options for you:
- Carrot & Walnut Traybake
- Moist Chocolate Banana Cake
- Nutty Orange Polenta Cake
- Vegan Banana Bread Cookies
- Delectable Gingersnap Cookies
COOK DISHES WHICH WILL LEAVE YOU FULL
Whenever I have guests over or if I’m having a party then this garlic pulao is always on my menu. Doesn’t matter what cuisine I’m serving, I always loving having this pulao as one of the mains. Having rice dishes is always an easy alternative yet it is sure to leave your guests filling full and satisfied.
If you feel like it then why not make a Chicken Biryani and serve it with some raita. That is my kind of comfort food and I would mind serving it to my guests. It’s the kind of meal that you make a pot full and then let people serve from it and enjoy. This gives you time to spend with your guests too and have a lovely day rather than tirelessly working in the kitchen. And like I mentioned before you can always marinate the meat the day before to give you more time to prep on that day.
Some other no-fail rice recipes to try out:
I would also suggest having some salads. This festive salad is a sure hit!
As for dessert, you can try some bread pudding or even some rice pudding.
MEAL PLAN SUGGESTIONS
I’ve got some main meal plan suggestions listed down here. Do check it out too.
THE ULTIMATE GOAN MENU 1: Chicken Xacuti, Sorpotel, beef cafreal, garlic pulao, mushroom chilli-fry, grilled masala okra
THE HOMELY GOAN MENU 2: Chicken curry and rice, prawn chilli-fry, recheado bangdo, beef mince with potatoes, ambot tik
THE VERY GOAN-PORTUGUESE MENU 3: Chicken pulao/Goan Sausage pulao, some Goan gravy from the Goan menu 1, okra chilli fry
Always make sure to serve some homemade pickles with any Goan menu for that extra homely touch. Your guests are surely going to love it and maybe even ask for the recipe or a bottle full of the pickle :D. Do not forget to send them here… Sharing is caring so share this post with your family and friends.
WORLDWIDE MENU: Succulent Lamb Ribs in red wine/Roasted Harissa Chicken/Pan-grilled chicken, Chicken Country Captain, vegan spicy mushroom wrap
ITALIAN DISHES TO INCLUDE: Chino-Italian wedding pasta/Garlicy spaghetti,
INDIAN MENU: Chicken Biryani, French beans poriyal, jeera aloo or maybe even some Rajma Chawal or dal chawal
CHINESE MENU: Smoked lardon and cabbage stir-fried rice/Veggies Stir-fry noodles, mushroom chilli fry– fusion food
Go ahead and start planning all those post lockdown parties. You can cook for a crowd on a tiny budget and it doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful. Comment down below and let me know your plans too! I would love to know…I can’t wait for this lockdown to end…
Also, share your food pictures with me on Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #deliciouscravingsatvaniaskitchen.
2 Comments Add yours
Great tips! 🙂