THERE’S AN EASY WAY TO TURN A DINNER PARTY INTO SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL WITHOUT THE SPENDING STRESS.
A Spring dinner party menu is one of my favourite seasons to work with in the kitchen next to summer because of the vast amount of produce available. If you have a green thumb picking herbs and vegetables from your garden also adds to the fun of preparing delicious meals.
Whether you are hosting a dinner party for 20 or a small group of people the number one thing you need is a list. The dreaded list BUT trust me when I say putting the list together is the easy part when creating a menu for your guests.
If you think you are going to wing it the night before or even a couple of days before you’ll find you spend more money on your dinner party dishes then had you have planned in advance. Why? Because you are rushing to get it done and the last thing on your mind is- Savings.
How long should I plan for a dinner party?
That depends on how confident you are to complete the process.
- Planning including Budget
- Menu Plan and Timing
- Grocery Shopping
- Venue- Inside or Out
- Drink menu
If you’re just inviting a few friends over for a casual dinner then sure you could pull that off in a day or two but if you’re hosting a large dinner party give yourself at least 2 weeks. Life gets in the way sometimes so having a window of opportunity is better than having nothing at all.
I received an email from a fan who is under pressure to host a large Spring garden party. This is her first outdoor event and she was hoping to get some tips and ideas on budget-friendly dinner party dishes to serve to her guests. She also wondered if she should cater to anyone who has food allergies or special diets.
The party is a 40 year wedding anniversary celebration for her parents. Since her siblings live out-of-town, she is on her own to plan and execute this party. Her siblings will arrive the day before and offer any help they can then.
Last year I shared some of my secrets about “How to host a casual budget-friendly dinner party” and although this might sound similar they are very different.
A casual party is something you can whip up last-minute if you had to. Grab some burgers, hotdogs and sausages, pre-made salads, chips and dip, veggies and you’re good to go.
Understanding your event
Consider the season and event type when creating a menu plan for your dinner party dishes as this will set the stage to get the ball rolling. Each season in Canada offers different menu options plus costs will differ as well depending on where you live.
You’ll also want to think about how many guests you have, portion sizes per person and the budget you’re working with. I like to serve at least 2-4 starters per person so I make sure to buy enough plus extras for the hungry party-goers.
Hosting a Spring dinner party is fairly easy as long as you get ahead of the process. Help with your party planning also goes a long way in keeping your sanity alive. If you find that you are alone planning a large event maybe see if a friend or relative can help out.
The good news is that Spring is the perfect light jacket weather for an outdoor dinner party, even for the kids. Lucky for us we have an sun-room which is where we hosted a casual Spring dinner party. On the menu were finger foods, salads and a couple of homemade desserts.
Should you accommodate food needs?
If you’re planning the dinner party then you should accommodate those who need something special to a reasonable extent. If what they are asking for is out of your league you may have to ask for expert advice or get suggestions from the person about what they can and can’t eat.
Aside from planning keep the menu simple especially if you’re a first-time dinner party host. The name of the party game is to party with your guests and stay away from the kitchen as much as possible unless you’re bringing food out. No one likes to be stuck in the kitchen while everyone is having fun.
Spring Dinner Party Decor
I found a really cool idea over at I Heart Naptime for these Fabric Covered Spring Vases.
You can find all your supplies at Michael’s Craft Store or the Dollar Store in Canada.
Set a few of these around your table and you’re sure to have a center-piece the guests will talk about. Being creative is fun especially when it doesn’t cost much to do so.
- plain fabric or drop cloth
- painter’s tape
- craft paint
- paint brush
- sewing pins
- recycled bottles
- hot glue gun and glue sticks
Alternatively you can add a fresh bouquet of Spring flowers to the table which you can get at Zehrs for $10 in the floral department. Just about every grocery store sells some form of flowers for cheap.
If you want to decorate your space further I’d suggest a trip to the Dollar store or second-hand shops for Spring linens and decor. You can’t go wrong, really it’s the best way to save money and still look like you spent a fortune on your party. Share your money-saving secrets with your friends, they’ll thank you.
Back to the food…
Let’s have a look at some of the most mouth-watering Spring Dinner Party Dishes that I know I want to try and I hope you do to. I’m sure our friends would never turn down an invite again if our party food looked anything like these beautiful dishes.
Dinner party starters
The obvious here would be a vegetable and dip tray, deviled eggs, olives and cheese, crackers and cheese trays especially for a casual party. Add some Tortillas and other healthy types of snacks to bulk up the app table to go along with these two simple dinner party dishes below and you’re all set.
The Vietnamese Vegan Spring Rolls over at Watch What You eat are the perfect Spring recipe you should add to your Dinner party starters menu. This is a wonderful meatless option that is not heavy before the main dinner.
Sesame Chicken Pot Stickers are a wonderful deep-fried starter idea for your Spring dinner party. They’re stuffed with chicken, elegant shiitake mushrooms, garlic, ginger and just a full-flavoured app. This recipes offers a nice balance with the spring rolls in texture and flavours.
Serve your pot stickers with a side of dipping sauce. The cool part- You can batch make this recipe and freeze them in advance for your party.
Pot-stickers are unbelievably easy to make. Best of all, they’re freezer-friendly, perfect for those busy weeknights!
One more…I love this!
Would you just look at the beauty on that plate!
Cucumber Feta Rolls are PERFECT starters and you can find cucumbers for under a buck in the Spring which means this recipe makes the menu cut.
Spring Dinner party dishes- Main
Fire up the grill and prep this amazing looking Garlic and Paprika Chicken.
What I loved about this recipe is that we’re using inexpensive poultry cuts but adding tonnes of flavour. Your guests will appreciate that you went the extra mile to flavour and season your chicken so it’s not bland or dry.
The colour also adds depth to the other dishes you will serve plus it keeps the menu lighter. I often find beef can be heavy especially if accompanied by bread products.
For the vegetarian dish you could make this beautiful Asparagus Lemon Risotto from the Garlic Matters website. I love asparagus and am a huge fan of lemon so I know I’d love this recipe and hopefully our guests will too.
The Spring months is when you will start to see asparagus come down in price. During the months of May, June and July asparagus are in season and priced as low as $1.99lb or free if you know where to forage for them.
Dinner party salads
Add all the colour you can in your salads. Salads have become the new party meal with more and more people experimenting with flavours and textures. I love to add pumpkin seeds to my salad for a bit of crunch and ditch the croutons. The options are endless which is why hosting a salad bar Spring dinner party is a popular menu.
Beetroot and Feta Cheese Salad by Scrambled Chefs is colourful with a full-depth of flavour from the feta cheese. Buy the good feta as a little goes a long way. Money Savings…remember?
Frugal Spring dinner party dishes don’t have to include an abundance of ingredients to be successful. Keeping it simple also means lowered costs.
The Recipe Critic won me over with their Thai Cashew Chopped Salad with a Peanut Sauce dressing. The colours are vibrant and loaded with in-season produce. This is one of those salads that could eat like a meal. Add some salmon, chicken, beef or pork and you’ve got a match made in heaven.
One more… couldn’t resist this Southern Style Mustard Potato Salad. So simple and pairing mustard with potatoes is a perfect idea. If you’re cutting the carbs substitute the potatoes for radishes and you’ve got yourself a low-carb mustard radish salad.
Dinner party soups
Thai Pea Soup is a recipe that your guests will rave about especially if it looks like the photo above. Not only can it be served at room temperature or hot you make this wonderful soup in the blender. Talk about Kaboom with freshness.
The other Spring soup recipe that I would definitely add to a party menu is this Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs.
Not only is it cheap to make but it’s bursting with flavour and is a broth based soup. The Spring is still a bit nippy in the evening so a nice bowl of soup will hit the spot for your guests. Keep it warm in the crock-pot and serve the entire dish outdoors.
Dinner party desserts
There MUST BE chocolate at any dinner party I host. I said so. Soft Batch Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are a great after dinner dessert especially if you had spicy or acidic dishes. (Even if you don’t you still need chocolate)
I’d also offer a seasonal fruit parfait with a sugar-free whipped cream for those guests that want something sweet but without all the calories. How can your guests say no to a lovely Sugar-free Strawberry Jello Parfait?
In the Spring you can also find great deals on blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Mix them all up or try different variations. Simple and very inexpensive for dessert.
Dinner party drinks
A skinny coconut margarita is a perfect Spring drink to serve with your meal or as the guests arrive to your dinner party. Keeping the drinks simple and light won’t fill your guests up before the appetizers and main meal.
Over at This Lil Piglet their non-alcoholic Shirley Temple drink is a colourful beverage that your guests will love. What I like about having two options for mixed drinks is that you get to choose whether you want alcohol or not. Obviously non-alcoholic drinks will cost less.
Offering your guests other options such as water, pop, fruit juice, sodas, beer and wine are also suggested since not everyone drinks alcohol.
And That’s How It’s Done
Top Tip= Plan your Dinner party
Oh.. what about entertainment?
You don’t have to hire a band for entertainment at your party simply turn the radio on and offer your guests some light party music. Another fun option is to host a Spring karaoke party to involve all of your guests. Cost $0.
Budgeting for any kind of dinner party can be tough especially if you haven’t saved the money up. Saving by watching sales flyers in advance will help to cut costs as long as you’ve got that window to do so.
Hosting parties any time of the year will cost you money but for most people they enjoy the company of others and can do so without spending more than they need to. Plus, eating out is far more expensive.
P.S- Test your recipes in advance if they are new to you because you don’t want to be learning how to make your Spring Party Dishes the day of the party.
I hope these recipes and tips help my reader and other CBB fans who are looking for Spring inspirational dishes for their party menu.
What are some of your favourite budget-friendly Spring Dinner party Dishes?
Please feel free to leave your comments below.
April Grocery Game Challenge
Join in the 2017 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post. Here are The Grocery Game Challenge rules to get you started and where you’ll also find a link for the 2017 GGC schedule. Please feel free to download, save and even print the schedule.
Post your shop and you can be next.
New monthly prize: See the Grocery Game Rules
April 2017 Blog Posts:
- 3 Grocery Games I Play With Our Son While Shopping – Last shop for March
- Exclusive Easter Menu Ideas To Fit Your Budget– GGC #1
- How Much Should My Retirement Food Budget Be?– GGC #2
Free Money Saving Tools 2017
Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!
This is the budget that brought us to debt freedom back in 2013 and now I’m offering to all of you for FREE. We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.
Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.
Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE.
CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet. So many free resources at your fingertips.
Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide 2017
The Ultimate Grocery Shopping guide is ongoing with new informative money-saving posts added every month.
Even if you don’t live in Canada there are some amazing budget saving tips that will help put you on the path to more savings at the supermarket.
Share this guide with your friends and tell them about Canadian Budget Binder especially if they are struggling with their grocery budget.
The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries so please enjoy the many money-saving posts in the The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
2017 Grocery Shop Results
Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2017: $3180 or $265/mth
(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)
- Total Grocery Budget for this Month: $265
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $265
- Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
- Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
- Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
- PC Points Plus Earned to date: 486,000
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
- Shoppers Optimum: Just under 850,000 Optimum points (I will update this twice a year) $1500 worth of free stuff.
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Zweet to cash out : $18.25
- Checkout51 to cash out : $24.50
Our Grocery Shop This Week
- 2 x dozen eggs $1.97 each
- Planters Cashews $2.99 sale
- 2 x Light Cream 1L $2.99 each
- 10 x Lactancia Cream Cheese Sale $1.00
- Bananas $2.44
- Green Zucchini $3.86-50%= $1.93
- 3 x English cucumbers sale $0.99 each $2.97
- 2 x PC Breakfast Sausages $5.49 each-50%= $5.50
- Boneless pork chops $6.85-50%= $3.43
- 2 x Pulled Pork Apple Roasts $12 each -50%= $12.00
- Lous Peameal Bacon $5.99-50%= $3.00
- Salerno ricotta $7.99-50%= $4.00
- Canadian Pizza $8.00-50%= $4 from the ready for the oven counter
- Fried Chicken Ready $10.00-50% = $5 from the ready to eat counter
- 2 x Tre Stelle Mascarpone Cheese $7.49 each -50% = $7.49
- 2 x Tre Stelle Bocconcini Minis $6.49 -50%= $6.50
Total Out-of-Pocket $76.17 – $10 stockpile for cream cheese = $66.17
All totals below already have tax factored into them.
- Total to spend this month : $265
- Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
- Stockpile budget used this month: $23.24 $1.76 left
- Total coupons used this week: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $0
- Total in-store discounts this week: $47.85
- Total in-store discounts to date: $432.50
- Total spent this week: $66.17
- Total spent so far this month: $273.83
- Total over/Under spend this shop: lots
- Total over/Under spend for the month: over budget
- Total left to spend for the month: -$8.83
- Total Spent To Date 2017: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $231.06+Feb $255.16+March ($5 budget increase) $263.60 + April $
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
After our son fell and bopped his head on Monday we made a pit-stop for food from Zehrs as there was no time to cook our menu plan when we got home. We did find some great deals but now we’re really done for the month. Those pink stickers on the meat were hard to resist.
In the event we run short of something the last week which we shouldn’t I still have a $50 PC gift card from Christmas or plenty of PC points.
Coupons and Coupon Apps
Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons! These are your latest Checkout 51 offers which you can use to help save money. We’re finding less and less coupons in the stores these days. What are your thoughts? Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?
If you notice I’m missing a valuable link please message me and I’ll get it added to the savings list below.
Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards. I did this in the UK and loved it!!
Plus check out these other hidden areas online to get more coupons!!
If any of these links are broken please report them to me.
- Healthy Essentials Printable Coupons (Johnson and Johnson)
- Danone Coupons Get up to $25 in coupons
- Clorox Coupons Sign up to print coupons in the Clorox family which include Greenworks, Glad etc.
- Kraft Canada Sign up and receive recipes and coupons by email
- MySavings.com Printable Smart Source Coupons
- Walmart Canada Printable Coupons
- Proctor and Gamble PandG Sign up for printable coupons
- Hidden Coupon Portals You Should know about – I found this over at Save a Loonie and you’ll want to sign up for notifications and check out the site so you get notified every time a hidden coupon is available from Save.ca, Brandsaver, Smart Source etc.
Grocery Game Challenge 2017 FAQ’s
- Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible. The rules have been updated to reflect changes for the 2017 challenge year.
- Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
- What is the monthly prize and who can claim it?- The monthly prize is a $10-$20-$50 PC Loblaws Gift Card and for our out of country friends it’s $CDN via PayPal. Please see GGC rules.
- When does the Grocery Game close each month?: The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. If you choose to post monthly or bi-weekly you will only get 1 ballot for that shop. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it altogether. Don’t let that be you! You can post your shops all month-long.
- Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: No, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year in order to plan accordingly our budget.
- Do you stockpile food? We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any longer as we found we weren’t eating it fast enough. Stockpiling is still great and just one way to help cut your budget to save money if you do find items that you can buy in bulk at a sale price.
- Canadian Coupons:Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest Checkout 51 offers that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge. There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
- Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading with mobile coupon apps being the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site Save.ca that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile Save.ca app joining forces with the many other coupon apps available. If you find an app that I don’t talk about please let me know as they are always being added and I’d like to review them.
- What is the Best Flyer App- We use Flipp on our Iphone so if you wan to have all your flyers in one spot download Flipp from the Apple Store or get it on Google Play.
- What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
- What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
- How Do I Know what stores accept coupons?: If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
- How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.
Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget like many people do. This is why The Grocery Game Challenge is one of the most popular hang out spots for people who want to save money on groceries.
If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2017 get ready to look at your grocery budget by learning;
- Where you are spending money
- How much money you are spending
- How much money you are saving every month
If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!
If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email. If I use your topic I will put your name in a draw for a prize at the end of the year.
You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!
Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2017!
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