The YouGov survey concluded that almost 19 million people don’t host dinner parties because of the time and expense involved. The average dinner party, according to the survey, costs £60 – but we’ve come up with three menus that will cost you at least half that.
Menu 1 – the veggie one
A refreshing summer salad, made only with peas (buy frozen to make it even cheaper), radish, a single spring onion and some cress. Even the dressing is super cheap to make – just thin crème fraiche out to single cream consistency with a little milk.
Packed full of flavour, good for you, and very cheap indeed, mushrooms are a miracle ingredient if cooked properly – fry on a super high heat (the pan should be almost smoking) to seal in the moisture. Mushrooms are the star ingredient in this red wine ragu.
Oranges, the honey you already have in the cupboard, a few shelled pistachios and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Simples! Sophie Grigson’s aromatic oranges take only two minutes to prepare, which makes it the perfect pud if you’ve got both time and budget constraints.
Menu 2 – the exotic one
Such tasty little morsels, Jo Pratt’s chilli and chickpea bites combine Tenderstem broccoli, lemon, basil, and the obvious red chilli and chickpeas. You could always substitute in regular broccoli and dried basil to make it even cheaper.
Stick with the nice ‘n spicy theme, and try Ching-He Huang’s legendary chilli chicken recipe (main picture above). All the ingredients are cheap and easy to find – think chicken drumsticks, fresh root ginger, lime, sweet chilli sauce – and Ching’s batter is simply divine.
It might look expensive, but aside from the figs (and you only need one per person) Marcus Wareing’s baked figs with flapjacks recipe only requires oats, sugar, a bit of butter (we’re sure you’ve got that in your fridge anyway) and an optional blob of crème fraiche.
Menu 3 – the traditional English one
What more appropriate way to start an English dinner party than with prawn cocktail? You can read all about its intriguing history here, then quickly rustle one up with a few prawns (buy frozen if you like), lettuce, cucumber and a Marie Rose sauce. Super cheap.
Lamb shanks: a cheap cut of meat, easily transformed into a dazzling dinner party dish. Here it’s served with a garlicky, lemony sauce and topped with a couple of coriander sprigs. It’s the perfect way to keep carnivores happy on a budget.
The most British pud we could find! Rustle up a few sweet Yorkshire puds (very cheap to make), then instead of gravy, top it with a scoop of ice cream and a splodge of jam, usually saved for your morning toast. Trust us; it’s great.
Have you any top tips on how to keep dinner parties cheap? Or should they be something to splash out on? Talk to us in the Comments box below.