This year it’s my turn to host Easter Dinner for Yankee Bill’s side of the family. I enjoy entertaining, and I enjoy cooking–so this is a fun event for me. However the fact that I have to feed 10 folks is a tad bit intimidating.
Luckily for me, the task falls right in line with my Walmart Grocery Challenge for the month-to make a great but inexpensive Easter Dinner. Nothing like knowing you are going to tell the entire internet about something to get you motivated to do it right.
Let’s start out with my “Prime Directive”* for hosting frugal family gatherings:
“If people offer to bring something. . . LET THEM”.
I am going to reiterate that, for those of you out there who are stubborn. You do not have to do this all yourself.
LET OTHER PEOPLE HELP.
They want to. Really. Or they wouldn’t have offered. As a matter of fact, I’d take it one step farther and say a smart hostess would actually have a list of the items that you might need ready so that you can jump right on it if anyone says “Can I bring anything”.
Now I know what some of you are thinking. “What about Aunt Tilley. She’s a TERRIBLE cook and always offers to bring her Sardine and Brussels Sprout Souffle that no one will eat”. Never fear-you can outsmart her. Just make sure you have on your list a few items that are practically impossible to mess up: wine, rolls and flowers come to mind.
When Aunt Tilley asks “Can I bring something” jump in before she has a chance to suggest her souffle and say “That would be lovely! I think I have all the side dishes under control, but it would really help if you could pick up a nice bottle of wine to go with supper.”
But now on to my challenge! First I came up with a general menu. If you aren’t sure what to make for your Easter Dinner make sure to check out Walmart’s Easter page-they have links to lots of great recipes like Balsamic Maple Glazed Ham and Pecan Crusted Rack of Lamb. Me? I’m a traditionalist, so my menu looks like this:
In my case I happen to know that my Mother in Law (MIL), Sister in Law (SIL), Husband’s Aunt (Aunt B) and Husband’s Grandmother (Happy) will all ask me if they can bring something. I married into a great family, and they all are good cooks!
My MIL offered to have dessert over at her house after dinner-along with an egg hunt for the kiddos.
My SIL makes excellent twice baked potatoes and agreed to bring those, as well as some really great stuff we call “green glop” which probably has a better name-it’s a sort of jello/coolwhip/fruit salad thingy like you find a church potluck suppers.
Aunt B offered to make a vegetable side dish (and honestly, as long as I don’t have to cook it I really don’t care what she makes–whatever it is, it will be delicious).
Just before I wrote this post Happy, who is 93 and lives in an assisted living facility called to ask if there was anything she could do. I asked her to buy some rolls. I had plans to bake my own but had the idea in the back of my head that if she really wanted to bring something (and I could tell she did) that buying some rolls would be easy on her.
That leaves me with ham, deviled eggs, salad and pickles for 10-which can be done pretty reasonably.
I can usually find Ham for less than $2 a lb at Walmart. Buying a plain spiral cut ham and just a couple of dollars of juice and syrup I can make my Homemade “Honey Baked” Ham recipe in the crockpot. That makes it Fast, Easy, Inexpensive and Tasty. A winner all the way around!
Eggs go for around $1.68 a dozen here-$2 if you buy the really fresh ones from local farmers. I think that a dozen would be fine-after all that’s 24 deviled eggs for 10 ppl. As an added bonus, deviled eggs can be made the day before and stored in the fridge. Less to do on Easter Day.
Even though I’m serving 10, with all the different kinds of food I don’t need a humongous salad-I just need enough so that everyone can have a small bowl. Probably a head of lettuce a couple of tomatoes, a cucumber and a couple of carrots would be fine-let’s guesstimate that at about $5. Although I wouldn’t want to make salad days ahead of time, I could put it together in the morning and have it just waiting for dinner time. Again, much less last minute stress.
For the “relish tray” I use my own home canned pickles-my Sweet Zuchinni Pickles, Dilly Pickled Green Beans and my Kosher Dills. I’ll round it out with a can of black olives-because hey, that’s what you do. The pickles are all “free” and the can of black olives is about $1.50. Cracking open a can doesn’t take any time at all either.
Are you seeing a theme here when it comes to ease of preparation?
We are a water or milk family, so most everyone will drink one of those beverages. We’ll add a bottle or two of wine from our NY Fingerlakes wine buying trip this fall.
Viola! Dinner for 10 for around about $24. And that’s with plenty of leftover ham to make a couple of meals plus a pot of beans, lentil stew or pea soup with the bone.
What if I didn’t have any help? What if I had to buy it all myself? Well I think I’d still be fine. I’d have spent a few bucks and bought some potatoes and bacon to make my German Potato Salad. Although it’s a warm dish, I can make it ahead and then warm it up in time for dinner. To round out the meal I would have added some steamed carrots that I had canned from the garden and whipped up a batch of rolls with my bread machine. All of that wouldn’t have added more than $10 to the cost, if that.
So what are your plans for Easter? How do you keep the cost under control?
*Yes, in fact, I am a Star Trek geek.
Disclosure: This post is part of a campaign I am participating in with the Walmart Moms. Walmart has provided me with compensation and product for this post. My participation is voluntary and opinions, as always are my own.
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