My husband and I’s families do not live close by. It takes 4 hours to drive to visit both sides of our family. Therefore, in order to see family, we take a lot of weekend trips or we host them for the weekend. We are both very close to our families and I love having my daughter bond with her cousins, so we try to make an effort to see our family every 2-3 months. This allows us to have many fun filled weekends and happy memories, but it does come with a cost. Not even including the cost of gas, we spend about $150-$200 a weekend on food when we go to visit or host family at our house.
So in preparation for my sister in law and her husband and two kiddos coming into town this weekend, I strategized some ways that I save money while hosting. I started with my Meal Plan 101 routine, which is my backbone to saving money. Next I used the five tips below to save money while hosting:
1.Casseroles are your best friend
Not only can they feed a large group, but you can easily prepare them ahead of time so you can spend more time with your loved ones instead of slaving away in the kitchen. I found an easy beef enchilada casserole recipe that included ingredients I already had on hand.
2. Bake for breakfast
Similar to the casserole, you can prep this ahead of time or even make 1-2 days before to have on hand. Something like an egg strata, french toast or pancake bake are easy and low cost dishes. I made a banana bread ahead of time to serve for breakfast. Check out Eating on a Dime’s 20 overnight breakfast casseroles to check off one and two of my list!
3. Plan activities outside of mealtime
Instead of going out to eat as an activity, try to plan activities around your meals. For example, pick fun activities like museums, nature hikes or walks, mini golf, etc after breakfast, but before lunch or after lunch, before dinner. This way you can still get in the fun but eat meals at home.
4. Bring your own meals
Another way to cut down your food costs is to bring your own food to an activity! Try looking for activities that allow for this such as a winery that doesn’t serve their own food, having a picnic in the park, or going to the local pool or beach with homemade sandwiches. We have a free local zoo where you can bring food. This weekend we packed up some sandwiches in a cooler and enjoyed a little picnic at the zoo. Looking for a free zoo in your area? Check out travelawaits.com article on 10 best free zoos in the US.
5. Make a fun activity centered around food
My sister-in-law recently hosted our family for a birthday celebration and instead of having her cook for everyone, she had the great idea of everyone bringing their own dish and a wine pairing. We had a scoring sheet and everything. Everyone brought their favorite bottle of wine (or two) and made a dish that pairs well with it. It allowed for everyone to have a fun filled evening with spreading the cost around to everyone. A Guests love having a “job to do” by creating their own dish and it is a way for them to feel that they are taking the load off the hosts. However, if a guest is coming from far away, it may be difficult to coordinate them bringing a dish.
Those are my 5 suggestions for creating a low-cost food weekend when you are having guests in town. Feel free to comment below if you like the suggestions or have other ways to save money while hosting!