Monday, August 11, 2014

Do Ahead Dinner For 12 - Under $18

I love to entertain and I also love to have it be really easy and not break the bank.  I know some of you have made comments that you don't have the dishes or time to put a big meal together for a lot of people.  This is one of my go to meals that can be completely done the day before and all of the dishes came from Goodwill or the Dollar Tree.  With some budget shopping this meal for 12 is under $18 and there will be leftovers.

It doesn't have to be fancy to have your guest enjoy it.  I bought the double beverage dispenser on sale for $12.99.  The glasses, wine glasses, wine bucket and dip and chip dish all came from GW or DT.   Set this all up the day before then all you have to do at the last minute is fill the drinks, put some ice in the bucket and add some dips and chips.

 Last time Ham was on sale, I bought an extra one for the freezer.  This is already cooked, so all I have to do is put it in a dish, cover with foil and heat up for 2 1/2 hours tomorrow and it will be fabulous.  I love to score the top and cover it with some honey, brown sugar and crushed pineapple.  Comes out delicious every time.

 Macaroni Salad is always a crowd pleaser and so easy to put together and definitely better the next day.  I just mix in some chopped onions, celery, olives and hard boiled eggs.  Then I season it to taste with mustard, mayonaise and a little pickle relish.  Yum.

 Drain most of the liquid off of two larege cans of baked beans, then add in some brown sugar, chopped onions and some molasses.  Put the casserole cover on and bake with the ham tomorrow.   Soooooo good.

 I small seedless watermelon cut up in chunks and

 a cantelope cute up in chunks too.  Cover with saran and keep in the fridge so it is really cold.

 Bake your cake in an oblong pan and frost when cooled.  Cover with some saran and it will be delicious tomorrow evening.

Come party day, arrange on the counter for a casual buffet.

GW plates and bowls for salad.  The glass salad bowl came from GW too. (I will fill it with a tossed green salad right before guests arrive)

I mixed the cantelope and watermelon together and placed in a GW bowl along with the macaroni salad in another GW bowl.  They don't have to match, just buy the ones you like.

 The baked beans are in a pyrex dish that has a cover that I also found at GW along with the pyrex oblong baker.  The ham is already sliced so I will just keep it covered with foil and both of these can bake in the oven at the same time.  Remove the casserole lid and foil and guest can serve themselves.

Since everything is covered with saran or foil, it will be perfect in the fridge until time to put them out.  Everything is done in advance, so no stress, no last minute rushing.  Super easy and inexpensive entertaining.

Ham - $8.05
Macaroni noodles - $1
Celery, Onions, Olives and dressings approx. $1
2 Cans Baked Beans $2  
Bean Seasonings 25c.
Watermelon $1
Cantelope $1
Tossed Salad $2
Cake Mix $1
Frosting 1/2 can 50c.

Total $17.80

Set a simple fun table and you are ready to party.

Shop the sales at your grocery store and have things on hand so you can pull a dinner together on a moments notice and do it in advance so you can relax and enjoy your company.

I'm so glad my DH doesn't mind leftovers because I am sure there will be plenty of ham, beans and macaroni salad for us to have the day after.  There will probably be enough ham I can cut off around the bone to make some fabulous split pea soup with ham or scalloped potatoes and ham.  So we will probably get another couple of meals out of the leftovers.  Gotta love it, more meals with no stress too.

Another super easy do ahead meal for a crowd is Enchiladas and a Taco Bar.  I will share that another time.  Super easy and always a favorite with everyone.

This is part of my family and I never want to miss a moment with them, they are totally my heart.  I am always blessed whenever any of us can get together.

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Be sure to get all of your projects lined up for Inspire Me Tuesday.  Party goes live this afternoon at 3 PM CMT.  Can't wait to see you there.

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  1. Everything looks so yummy and so nicely put together! I love the picture of your beautiful family...with pretty smiles :) Your beverage station looks awesome, love those beverage dispensers on their own stand! Everything is so nicely organized, you do such a wonderful job, Marty ~hugs, Poppy

  2. I love the family photo, Marty! It looks like everyone is having a wonderful time, and why shouldn't they? Your meal looks so YUMMY, and your home always looks so welcoming! Thank you for sharing such great entertaining tips! You make it look so easy!

  3. Everything looks just great and all really good ideas. I love simple entertaining!

  4. Wonderful tutorial post! I find that so many young people these days have no idea where to start to pull a complete meal together for others. You have done an excellent job showing how to do it in a timely manner without spending a ton of money! I'm pinning this for some of my younger friends and followers! Well done, Miss Marty!

  5. Marty this is such a beautiful meal. So many times we equate the amount we spend to the amount we love and that is truly not the case.
    That double drink dispenser was the deal of the day! Counting the hours until Tuesday!

  6. Marty, this is one of our go-to meals too! Ham is one of the best bargains out there especially right after the holidays. I've bought spiral sliced hams for 99 cents per pound before. Gosh - there's nothing else at the store for that price any more.

    Having family is the best!!

  7. Thanks for the idea. I think this will be on the menu for the next Sunday dinner I fix at my house. Ham is a favorite of mine and I love having some leftovers from that ! Happy Sunday!

  8. The only way to go!!! Shop the sales and plan hearty, fun and easy to assemble menus so even the hostess can relax and enjoy. Ham, a favourite of mine. Luv the left over options :)

  9. I love this post Marty. Can you make more of them. In the next few months we will be having lots of company because of the holidays. Sometimes it is hard to feed everyone when you are on a budget. This meal is one I can make and it looks good. Your family looks so happy and I see that you are blessed with them.

  10. Love your tips Marty! Ham is always a great way to get away from the hamburger festivals which always seem to be at every BBQ I am invited too...LOL I am also loving your pasta, adding that to my grocery list this week!

  11. I'm so impressed and everything looks delish. I might copy this entire plan the next time we have family here! xo

  12. You make planning a meal look so easy/ Thanks for such a great idea. It is amazing what one can do when you plan ahead and not wait until the last minute. Can I be part of your lovely family and come for dinner too?

  13. Marty,
    What a beautiful family. Bronx is getting so big. You are so blessed. That dinner looks so yummy good thing I live in Chicago land and not near your home I would be over there stalking out that dinner!! LOL! Looks so good. Enjoy that wonderful food and your wonderful family. Your post made me smile. Love when families get together. Such wonderful times and memories. Enjoy.

  14. Marty , everything looks delicious. I will have to keep these tips in mind when I plan a party

  15. Oh Marty what a beautiful family and everyone looks so happy. Your menu sounds delish - I love ham and that is such a good idea when they are on sale. I really got hungry just seeing all that wonderful food. Thanks for all the great ideas for your menu. I just love GW and DT.
    Have a great week.

  16. Your meal looks so delish and mouthwatering! I make my macaroni salad almost the same way except I've never put olives in it. That's an ingredient I'll have to try real soon. And I love serving baked spiral sliced ham too! I usually remove the slices and arrange on a platter for easy picking. Great entertaining tips and well within anyone's budget!

  17. Marty - your family is lovely and what a great way to celebrate them!! Your menu is sure to be a crowd pleaser and is one I'm going to file away for a couple of weeks - this will be great to prepare ahead for the day of our big move!! Thanks for the inspiration!

    Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG

  18. Yum! Looks delicious and a perfect make ahead meal for a crowd!

  19. I agree, do ahead and be with your family! I love to buy a half ham, even without company, we eat it and then I freeze it in smaller batches for casseroles, breakfasts, and other have reminded me that we haven't had ham lately!

  20. You have inspired me, Marty, once again! Thank you!

  21. Looks like you put together a great dinner for your family. I didn't believe it could be done for under $18.00, but you surprised me Marty!

  22. You are really amazing. My son has five college friends coming to visit before then head back to school and they would love this.

  23. you make it look so easy. and cheap. I'm going to get things done ahead next time by taking your plan to heart.

  24. Oh this is really easy and cheap idea for dimmer, and everything is so delicious which is very important :)
    Carpet cleaners Chiswick

  25. My kind of budget meal! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  26. You hit a home run, Marty! We host large parties pretty often & I'm of the same mind: plan ahead, choose items that are cost effective, & relax! You've made it seem perfectly easy & possible with this post. There's nothing more hospitable than opening your home, serving something yummy & sweet fellowship with friends & family.

  27. What a wonderful meal you put together. Everything looks so good! What a beautiful family!!


  28. Marty, what a great party! I always dread having to plan things. In fact, this past Friday I was going to have over a few friends, and was asking them to all bring something. One of my friends complained about having to bring something, and I decided I didn't want to have to clean to make it presentable for people. LOL. The result? We ended up deciding we'd do it at Cheesecake Factory. And then even worse?? Everyone canceled and we didn't get together. Next time, I'm having it at my house, and you've made it clear it doesn't cost much!!! :)


  29. I think google ate my post :) Anyway, great post - totally agree. Husband and I do this all the time - it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg to entertain! In fact we're doing crab legs and a cold orzo salad with wine tonight for less than $20!

  30. What a beautiful family Marty! I usually end up getting myself stressed out and spending too much time in the kitchen instead of with guests so I really appreciate these great tips for easy and inexpensive entertaining. I love the idea of a menu that you can prepare ahead of time. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  31. Oh, You are making me so hungry! Great shopping and tips! Setting up a buffet in the kitchen is the way we do it at our house too, and everyone loves it. Thanks again for all the I think I'm going to have to make some macaroni salad. :)

  32. Impressive! That looked like a good meal.

  33. Wow you did a wonderful job and for such a reasonable amount of money! You gave some good advice and good ideas! It's wonderful that you could all get together like that. I serve buffet style all the time since I have a narrow galley kitchen and a small dinette area. It works fine- but planning ahead like you did can make a world of difference with how the hostess feels and enjoys the day herself!

  34. Now that is one economical and healthy dinner. How did you find a ham so inexpensive?? Leaving the "bone in" is less expensive. You would think I would know something like that at my age. LOL You did good.
    AND...what a nice looking family, Marty!! And that tiny one..we haven't had one that tiny in a couple of years now. Adorable!

  35. This is an awesome and helpful post. I love seeing how others entertain. It is so helpful as a mom. Also, I wanted to ask about the beautiful young lady in the wheelchair. I have a 22 yr. old daughter in a wheelchair and just wondered about her story? I hope it is okay to ask:)

    1. She has MD and is my precious grand-daughter in-love. She is married to my grandson holding baby Bronx and is his mother. Such an inspiring young lady and story that you can read on my post about a Mother's Miracle.

  36. That's the way you do it Marty and thanks for sharing your beautiful family with us.

  37. Great ideas for a fun get together without breaking the bank! I love everything you are serving and we do basically the same meal for company too. I know everyone must have had a great time.