Sunday, 1 May 2011

Champagne Entertaining on a Beer Budget - Part 1

Life is full of challenges!
There are times in life when what was, is no longer, and what is, takes us out of our comfort zone.  These are the times when we need to sit up and take notice, take notice of what we do habitually and how can we change it?  Of course one of our biggest habits is how, what, when and where we eat.


Generally, we habitually buy what we like to eat, we habitually shop weekly for our groceries, we habitually love to go out to eat in our favourite restuarants, and we habitually eat at certain times of the day.  Geez... we even habitually cook the same meals!

Right?  Right!  nothing wrong with having a habitual life.... it's only when life comes along and hands you a new set of rules... and the biggest change...
a significant drop in income...  challenging? oh yeah... but hey I digress a bit.

Talking Food
OK, let's get back to food.  I have always loved my food and always loved to eat and nothing is going to stop me now.  Personally, I have always been a huge salad and vegetable eater, however, it does not make me a vegetarian because I still love my fish, red meat and dairy products.

I prefer to eat "low carb" meals with the odd indulgence in extra special cakes, and I love my fresh brewed coffee first thing in the morning and on odd occasions a fresh croissant.  I love real food.  If I am going to have milk and cream I want the real stuff... none of this low fat, semi-skimmed stuff ! what the hell is that?  it's like ordering a "why bother" - you know those people who order a "decaf soy latte".

Anyway this brings me to the point of wanting to share with you some of my tips on "How to Entertain on a Budget".


Keep it simple!
First Rule in budget entertaining...

  • simplicity - the K.I.S.S. rule... keep it simple stupid... 

no fuss, no worry... stick to something you have made before.  You know how it will turn-out and you know how long it takes to make and how many it will feed.  Can it be made ahead and how long will it keep afterwards (so you can enjoy it later).

Second Rule... 

  • quality and quantity - budget does not mean "cheap and nasty"...
choose quality products you can incorporate into a recipe which will stretch to feed more people.  

Third Rule...
  • variety - variety is the spice of life! right?
provide a variety of dishes - everyone likes to be able to choose; whether it be starters, or a selection of accompaniments for the mains; and a simple combination desert, providing a choice.

Fourth Rule...
  • set a budget - and stick to it!
work out how much you are happy spending (or how much you can afford) on this one occasion.  Are there going to be leftovers? and can you use the remaining unused produce within the week?

Fifth Rule...
  • make your own - as much as possible.
this means extra time preparing.  The more you make yourself the more you save. 

So, simple really... the hard part is deciding what you will serve...
once you have decided on your choice of recipes, write out your shopping list ...

NOW price everything... I normally get online to my local supermarket (Tesco or Sainsburys) and do a "dummie" shop.  I can check the prices and what specials are available in store.  
This way I know before I get to the store how much it is going to cost and whether I am within my budget, and I can also decide whether I need to change a recipe or two.

In my next blog I will give you a few simple recipe ideas...
Bon appetit!