Saturday, November 7, 2015

Do Ahead Dinner For 12 - Under $18

I love cooking a big Turkey and all the trimmings, but sometimes a Ham is the perfect way to go and so economical too.

(This was one of my most popular entertaining posts, so I thought it would be perfect to repeat since the Holidays are right around the corner.)

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 (Goodwill) or DT (Dollar Tree).   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.

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  1. I love a clever cook! Good job and delicious dinner!

  2. Ahhh this alll looks so good and EASY....gotta love that.
    Thanks for all the tips

  3. Great post! Looks delicious :-D

  4. I remember when you did this post and am glad you reposted this. I am trying to help our daughter and SIL out alittle right now as they are struggling $$$wise. So I am cooking some meals when they have his family and us there. I took lasagna and meatballs that I had in the freezer on Halloween and THIS is a GREAT meal that I could put together and take. Thanks, Marty. You have me thinking now of what other economical meals I can do. Have a beautiful weekend!!!

  5. Thank you for this post. Those of us that are challenged by putting a large meal together, thank you for sharing your economical meal and how easy it is to do ahead of time. Would love to hear more of these plans in the future.

  6. You are a clever hostess. I will try your ham topping too. Sheila

  7. I wonder where you live to get those food prices. No way we'd get anything at those prices without an hour's ride to the city, where there is a warehouse style cut rate food place that carries all kinds of unusual foods, but most past the sell-by date. Which in itself is not a bad thing as much food is good for quite some time after the sell-by date.. For example, a dollar's worth of cantaloupe is not even available. $2.98 will buy enough for (maybe) three small servings. And a bag of salad for small 4-5 servings is $1.99 on sale, and those are few and grabbed up right away. Wherever you are, I envy you your food prices. Aside from that, have you ever seen a 1940-50 OJ glass? We eat way too much these days, compared to when i was young. And didn't have the today's obesity and diabetes issues. So a smallish festive meal is not a bad thing, IMO. Except for not hearing the last of it if there's cake instead of pumpkin and apple pie. I appreciate you sharing your plan, which is eminently do-able, and will cost less that the traditional meal. And the dishes can go back to GW to be used by another family!!!

  8. My examples above are for our local markets, not the cut-rate place. Sorry not to make that clear.

  9. Such a great ideas and tips Marty! Everything looks so delicious, and it`s so clever! Thanks so much for sharing!
    Have a great weekend!
    Vesna - Home Chic Club

  10. I remember this post, Marty and it's so great! I too love to buy hams after Easter or Thanksgiving when they are marked down to very low prices. I think I even bought it for 99 cent/lb a couple of years ago after Easter. How can you pass that up? If the fruit is out of season and expensive you could just switch out for something that is in season.

    Keep these fantastic ideas coming!

  11. Marty, I so appreciate and envy your "no hassle" entertaining style! You are the consummate entertainer. I read that molasses is good for the blood pressure too. Frugal tips are what everyone wants these days.

  12. Yum! This sounds absolutely delicious and the price is perfect. Thanks so much for joining us at The Creative Circle link party and I look forward to seeing you again soon :)