Tips for Low Stress, Low Cost Entertaining

caufliflower saladThis weekend is Memorial Day. Are you entertaining friends or family? If so, a little advance planning will save dollars and make your weekend less stressful.

Here are some tips:

  • Grocery stores will feature picnic foods this week. If your family grills or picnics frequently, you may be able to stock up and save.
  • If you are barbequing, consider having everyone bring their own main dish and a side dish to share. Assign appetizers, fruit sides, vegetable sides, and desserts. Then you can supply the beverages, grill, tableware, etc.
  • If you aren’t grilling, consider using the more inexpensive beef or pork roasts to make a batch of shredded meat to put on buns or serve with rice. Another idea would be Any Day Chicken Salad.
  • If you are making the sides for the party, don’t go overboard with choices. The greater the variety, the greater the expense, more time spent in preparing, and usually more leftovers. I plan one starchy side like potato salad/baked beans/macaroni salad, a fruit or vegetable salad/tray, plus a simple dessert like bars or cookies. If you are having shredded meat as I mentioned before, think about a big bowl of rice (very cheap and super easy to make, especially if you cook it in the oven or a rice steamer). Here are some ideas from our recipe collection. These are all very simple to make so your kids can help you (kids tend to enjoy eating food they help make).

Creamy Cauliflower Saladfruit kabobs and yogurt

Pasta Salad

Fruit Salad

Fruit Kabobs with Yogurt Dip

Crunchy Cabbage Salad

Waldorf Summer Salad

As for the beverages make ice tea, lemonade or a drink mix and have water and lemon slices on hand.

Keep it simple and enjoy your guests.

Peggy Signature

Memorial Day is almost here…

Memorial Day makes me think of backyard barbeques, picnics, and having friends over. When I have guests, I don’t want to spend the whole day cooking and I don’t want to overshoot my food budget. Amanda, our dietetics student, and I figure we can to do the meal below for about $2 per person, or $16 for a group of 8. We figure it will take about an hour and a half of advance prep, not counting making the burgers since that will be part of the party. If I can limit myself to one deviled egg and one cookie or brownie, my diet should be in good shape, too!

Here’s the menu:

  • Hamburgers and Buns – There’s nothing better than a juicy burger right off the grill. Just make sure you cook them long enough and don’t put the cooked burgers back on the plate you used when they were raw.
  • Rhonda’s Deviled Eggs – My sister Rhonda makes the best deviled eggs—and because of requests, she brings them to many of our family get-togethers. This is about the least expensive appetizer I know because the ingredients are inexpensive.
  • Vegetable Tray – You can buy these already made, but they cost 3-4 times more than washing the vegetables yourself. Kids can help with this task.
  • Watermelon – I usually check out the seedless variety. Last summer, they were often on special for around $4.
  • Sugar Free Lemonade Drink Mix (from a tub) – I buy the store brand. I like the taste and it saves a ton of money. (Or, if you prefer, you could serve sun tea for your beverage.)
  • Cookies or brownies – I will buy a mix of cookies or brownies and stir them together unless I have some homemade in the freezer.

Before the party

  • Bake the brownies or cookies.
  • Make the hard cooked eggs.
  • Rinse and prepare the celery, radishes, carrots and onion slices (dice enough onions to make 1/3 cup and save for the deviled eggs). Put all the relishes on a serving tray or ready-to-serve container.
  • Make the hamburger patties and return to refrigerator.
  • Stir up the powdered drink mix (or make sun tea) and refrigerate.
  • If you don’t have to travel, make the deviled eggs and put them on the serving tray, cover and HIDE in the refrigerator. If you have to transport the eggs, carry whites and yolk mixture separately in cooler. Fill eggs on the spot, pressing filling out of snipped corner of bag.

Substitutions that will cost more:

  • Buy carrots and celery sticks already prepared at the grocery store
  • Buy cookies or brownies from the bakery
  • Add dip for the veggies
  • Buy soda and beer instead of drink mix.


Hamburgers (8 – 4-ounce servings)
2 pounds ground beef – $4.48
Wheat buns – $1.59

Deviled Eggs (12 servings)
12 eggs – $0.49
1 1/3 teaspoons mustard – $0.02
1/3 cup light salad dressing – $0.12
1/3 cup pickle relish – $0.35
Onion (counted below)

Vegetable Tray
1 pound baby carrots – $0.99
1 celery stalk – $0.99
1 bulk bunch radishes – $0.79
1 yellow onion – $0.50

Seedless Watermelon – $3.99

Sugar Free Lemonade Drink Mix (from a tub)
Mix for 1 gallon of drink – $0.95

Cookies or Brownies (from a mix, makes 8-9 servings)
Brownie mix – $0.69
1/3 cup vegetable oil – $0.12
1 egg – $0.06

Total – $16.13

-pointers by Peggy

Join Our Mailing List

Enter your email address:


Recent Posts

Posts from the Past