Frugal Friday--Let's [dinner] Party!!

12:05 PMHeather

When I was growing up, we always picked up lunch on our way home from church on Sundays.  It was usually Wendy's or McDonald's, and sometimes we'd even stop and eat with our friends, the Weltys, at Taco Bell.  And, on REALLY special occasions, we'd go to the Officer's Club at the base for brunch.  So, to me, Sunday lunch means eating out.

Even during our rice-and-beans season of getting out of debt, we tried to budget for Sunday lunch.  If we don't eat out any other time in the week, we love to eat out on Sundays.  But, now, as my children are growing and no longer content to order kid's meals, this Sunday tradition is starting to require some serious cash.  And so, I have tried to think of a "wiser" alternative for spending our Sunday lunch budget.

While driving to the grocery store last week, it dawned on me that I could easily serve a home cooked meal to our own family and another family for the same amount of money!  I love the idea of having friends over and trying to be a blessing to them.  But, I've always had this mental block that hosting another family--at least with many of our friends--means feeding 10-15 people.  But, with the cost of feeding our hungry crew at a restaurant, I could EASILY host a whole slew of people for the SAME price.

In fact, every other month, we DO feed about 20-25 people on the last Sunday of the month!  We teach the newlywed Life Group at our church, and with our co-directors, we alternate hosting what we call Last Supper at our home.  The host provides the entree, and everyone else brings sides, drinks, and desserts.  The truth of it is that I can feed a small crowd for about the same amount of money or less than taking my family of 5 to a restaurant. 

Duh!  I don't know why I hadn't seen it that way before.  But, I feel inspired to host a dinner party more often.  Nothing fancy--I am not Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray.  But, even a simple meal is a treasure when surrounded by family and friends.  And, I believe hosting dinner parties has become a bit of a lost art.

INTENTIONAL challenge:  My mind is whirling with the possibilities, and I am determined to quit saying, "let's do lunch" and actually pull out my calendar and set a date.  To host at our house.  I can pair my Sunday lunch budget--or any other day of the week--along WITH my love of being hospitable.   I can fix a brisket, a roast, chicken enchilada casserole, taco pile up, baked potato bar, or even chili.  I don't need to feel constrained about serving a fancy meal.  Don't we all love being freed from cooking?!  So, I think it's time to realize that feeding a crowd is not really a stretch of our budget, and to be freed from my assumptions on people's expectations.  Time to start some new traditions.  I can be frugal AND phone a friend to say, "Let's DINNER party!"

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