Economics of Entertaining

Economy’s got you down? I say lift those spirits with a little party. That’s right. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great meal with friends and family. And the payoff is worth millions. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Stretch your budget by braising. Brisket, shanks, short ribs and other secondary cuts that need time to tenderize are less expensive than steaks and chops. Once cooked, they tend to be rich and filling, so a little goes a long way. To get you started, try Red Pepper Braised Short Ribs, Alsatian Braised Turkey Sausage or Castilian Braised Chicken.

Spend time saving money. The more time you spend preparing food from scratch, the less it will cost you. This is particularly true when it comes to desserts. Prepare your own pie, cookies or tart and you can easily save $20 in one  course.

Cook vegetables in season. At this time of year, that means root vegetables like yams, parsnips and carrots. Toss them with a little bit of olive oil and roast them in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or so and they’re good to go. Toss in some new potatoes and you’ll stretch your dollar even further. For inspiration, take a look at this recipe for Root Vegetable Hash.

Tap into your pantry for flavor. You can easily add zest to your dishes with the help of California Ripe Olives, canned green chilies and roasted peppers. Nuts add crunch to otherwise hum drum salads and pastas. Open up a can of beans to bulk up your meal.