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What do you do to feed a crowd when the budget is tight?

(30 Posts)
Highlove Tue 05-Jul-16 14:33:41

Just that. We're expecting a houseful (8 adults plus offspring) in a few weeks. For three whole nights! We're not rolling in it right now so could do not to spend a fortune, but some of them are real foodies so I do want to make an effort. What would be on your menu in these circumstances - starters, mains and puddings, and also breakfasts? I'm a reasonably confident/accomplished cook so up for a challenge.

(They'll bring all the booze so at least we don't need to worry about that!)

spankhurst Tue 05-Jul-16 14:37:20

A really good risotto. I roast my chicken first for flavour and use a good quality stock. Green salad and Parmesan.

Chilli, spag bol, a terrific lasagne (or two)?

A massive salad with crusty French bread.

Dutchcourage Tue 05-Jul-16 14:37:22

Pasta and rice in bulk!

Eight adults is a lot to feed for three nights especially for a three course meal and breakfast !

What's your budget?

Dutchcourage Tue 05-Jul-16 14:38:32

I would also do a lot of one pot main meals and fill It out with war crusty bread rolls.

Veg soups

Cereal for breakfast

EssentialHummus Tue 05-Jul-16 14:44:49

YY to one-pot meals and soups with good bread for supper.

Breakfast: get in cereals, large tubs of Greek yogurt and decent coffee.

youngestisapsycho Tue 05-Jul-16 14:47:02

Does it have to be three courses? I'd do pudding but not starters. Chicken pieces, chorizo, new potatoes roasted in oven with red onion and orange zest and garlic.... very nice.

Titsalinabumsquash Tue 05-Jul-16 14:48:41

Cheap Lidl pork shoulder and do pulled pork in rolls with salad and home made potato wedges.

JapanNextYear Tue 05-Jul-16 14:49:27

I'd do cheese and fruit for puddings or crumbles. Agree no to 3 courses and yes to a couple of big stews/soups.

TinklyLittleLaugh Tue 05-Jul-16 14:49:58

A big gammon gives you plenty of meat, and easy to add new potatoes and salad. One pot things like chille or curry with plenty of rice and bread and sides.

Crumble is a nice easy pudding that always goes down well, I do my favourite with a bag of frozen mixed berries.

Naoko Tue 05-Jul-16 15:01:46

I don't think you can be so foody as not to appreciate a good risotto or chilli or curry, and all of those can be made easily and cheaply in bulk. For pudding, similar staple but satisfying dishes - apple crumble, bread and butter pudding, that sort of thing.

Popskipiekin Tue 05-Jul-16 15:12:09

Could you do eggy bread for breakfast? from any left over bread the night before - stale is good! you could thin out the eggs with some milk. Makes a fun "cooked" breakfast but makes the eggs go further than say scrambled eggs on toast.

What about porridge - made with jumbo oats? very nice and filling.

Otherwise do all the sneaky things to thin out meat like adding beans/pulses/extra veg. Veg curries with chickpeas for the protein.

Continuing my eggs theme grin what about pancakes as pudding? sprinkle some sugar, squeeze of lemon and you're done.

Hopingforsomesunshine Tue 05-Jul-16 16:39:21

Maybe a Moroccan chicken and chickpea tagine with cous cous.
I'd definitely do a joint and serve cold cuts with lovely salads.

LBOCS2 Tue 05-Jul-16 16:47:21

I love eggy bread. And French toast ;)

I think that things which feel 'luxury' are often things that have a bit more effort put in rather than actually being more expensive. So for example you could do croissants or pain au chocolat but the ones which you bake at home. Available at Iceland (or Waitrose/ocado). Minimum spend, and get some 'nice' jam to go with it (and/or some ham and cheese for savoury ones).

I would buy in a good selection of cheeses because they can definitely substitute pudding one evening, plus they're good for snacking in the form of sandwiches or with crackers during the day.

Cheap puds will fill people up if you think dinner was a bit on the light side, and can be tarted up - rhubarb and strawberry crumble is good with rose water or vanilla if you have any in your baking cupboard, ditto apple with elderflower cordial. Oats added to the crumble mix cuts down on the butter needed and makes them more interesting (also any nuts you might have knocking about).

Chicken thighs are always a winner, either roasted well with lots of crispy skin, or as a pp mentioned with chorizo. Plus cheap! Fish pie is always good as it makes ends of fish go a bit further, especially if you add chopped egg and some spinach. But generally, cheap cuts cooked for a long time is always a good bet. And I've never seen anyone sad at the sight of a glazed ham with mashed potato and cauliflower cheese smile

Spottyladybird Tue 05-Jul-16 17:03:03

For starters you could just have antipasti type things:
Cold meat
Sun dried tomatoes

All reasonable in Lidl or Aldi.

sparechange Tue 05-Jul-16 17:22:32

Do you really have to do proper starters? If not, I'd have dips and bread/breadsticks out for people to nibble on

Bruschetta; chicken liver pate; homemade tomato soup (from tinned tomatoes); leek and potato soup
Gyoza dumplings are really easy to make and look very impressive. You can buy the cases from an asian supermarket and then make the filling with vegs plus chicken/pork/prawn, but you only need a little bit of meat
Then serve with a soy sauce and vinegar dipping sauce

Curries look great if you present them nicely with a sprig of corriander in the rice!
And are easy to bulk out with lots of veg so you don't need to buy tonnes of meat
Slowroasted belly pork/pulled pork
Homemade pizza - a bag of flour, jar of passata, and some toppings.

Big spanish omelette with chorizo etc
Baguettes with jams

NattyTile Tue 05-Jul-16 17:28:07

Cheapie starters - a slice of melon with a sliver of ham or goats cheese. Half an egg devilled (yolk removed, mashed with paprika and mayo, piped back in) on a bed of salad leaves, a cup of cold summer soup, Welsh rarebit, a chunk of cheapish pâté with thin toast.

Cheapie mains.


Casserole - frozen chicken thighs or pork loin is pretty cheap at the moment - with baked potatoes. Don't bother with baking potatoes, just grab the larger ones from the cheapest bucket at the supermarket. Or roast new potatoes.

Lasagne - stretch the mince with lentils, and bung a bottle of wine in the sauce if they have provided generously!

Pizza also not expensive if you make the dough yourself. Not hard but a little time consuming (or 15 minutes in bread maker plus time to prove). Once you've got dough, easy to make lots of different pizzas. Traditional tomato sauce, then mozzarella and more ham, pineapple, that sort of thing. Bottle of BBQ sauce, cheese, then chicken, bacon, sweetcorn, onions. Just pesto on the bottom, then garlicky cheese, olives, courgette ribbons. Tomato, with tuna, sweetcorn and olives. Whatever floats your boat. But with giant salad and garlic bread it's tasty and not pricey. Oh, goats cheese and red onions a nice gourmet-y type topping too. Pesto and walnuts.

Great big bowls of leafy green salads, lettuce not at all pricey right now and goes miles!

When we are doing bulk catering, we cook up a ham, cheaper than buying small bits. It gets sliced cold for lunches and thicker slices do a nice gammon style meal with pineapple rings and fried eggs.

We do a great bucket of potatoes which get served cold as potato salad, hot with evening meal, and sliced and fried with breakfast too.

Other breakfasts - porridge or buckets of Greek yoghurt (cheap in lidl, decant into fancy bowl if they are food snobs), with fresh fruit, dried fruit compotes, muesli, maple syrup.

Pancakes not expensive, either fluffy USA ones for breakfast or traditional crepes as a pudding.

Other puddings - big vat of crumble or sponge, meringue if you have a friend with chickens, bread and butter pudding, rice pudding all pretty cheap to make in bulk.

Highlove Tue 05-Jul-16 18:31:05

Oh wow - thank you! Some brilliant ideas here. An definitely going to do a gammon joint for one of the meals - delicious and I love a bit of ham and eggs for breakfast, too.

Think you might be right about but doing proper starters, or at least not all three nights.

So much good stuff here to think about - I'm starving.

BluePitchFork Tue 05-Jul-16 18:34:31

shepherds pie
easy to do half meat/half lentils and lots of veg in it.
pasta and different sauces
curry with lots of rice/naan/poppadums

Luckystar1 Tue 05-Jul-16 18:52:02

Remember to consider the length of time cooking/preparing (ie do you really want to be stuck in the kitchen the whole of their visit, cooking, cleaning, laying tables, washing up etc). Ultimately this always falls to the host in some form or other.

Anyway my suggestion for food is Spanish chicken in the slow cooker - frozen onion and garlic, chopped toms, peppers, chicken thigh (boneless and skinless and chopped) lots of smoked paprika, olives and chorizo (I also add butter beans) and stick in slow cooker all day - no cooking per se and very little prep and serve with ciabatta. Also Jamie Oliver's Korma from Ministry of Food in the slow cooker (I use Pataks rather than make my own paste and I leave out the desiccated coconut).

Keep breakfast simple - there's nothing worse than having cooked and cleared up of an evening to come downstairs to a dishwasher that needs to be emptied and the though of filling it again with all the implements used cooking breakfast.

Lovelydiscusfish Tue 05-Jul-16 18:58:46

Vegetarian soup (sweet potato or something).
Vegetarian curry (see above).
Some kind of tapas meal - again if you kept most of it vegetarian, with various dips and patatas bravas and stuff, it could be quite cheap.
Risotto is a good one - can cost hardly anything.
For breakfast, what about that Mexican thing I forget the name of, which is basically spicy tomatoes and an egg?

Slingcrump Tue 05-Jul-16 19:05:03

huge trays of chicken thighs baked in oven with:

olive oil, seasoning, thyme, sweet potatoes, onions, red peppers, new potatoes, garlic.

it's sort of based on this recipe but with chicken instead of halloumi.

Works well as veggie dish on its own too (doesn't look particularly elegant but tastes good!).

Slingcrump Tue 05-Jul-16 19:14:56

And can't beat roast chickens

Roast several on the night (deliberately too much) to serve hot with rice dish such as this sort of thing

Then use leftovers to make huge chicken salad the next day such as this or this

Serve with baguettes

Alanna1 Tue 05-Jul-16 19:19:46

Breakfast: cereal / porridge / toast with jam
Rice and chili / rice and curry
Pasta and sauces
Jacket potatoes and sauces
Tortilla wraps
Mac cheese

Slingcrump Tue 05-Jul-16 19:26:50

Breakfast ... .

eggy bread sweet or savoury

Slingcrump Tue 05-Jul-16 19:30:52

Quite like the look of these too!

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