Making large meals actually saves you money! In this economy, that’s one more reason to have guests over. Rotating Shabbat dinners among friends and family is nothing new, but using budget-friendly menus can save time and money while still having a beautiful and delicious dinner for your guests.
But don’t let the word “budget” scare you. Skimping on quality ingredients is not the best way to save and surely will not make a memorable meal. Using up the week’s produce and making each dish stretch are tips that make you eager to have a houseful of guests any day of the week.
When preparing a meal that is economically savvy, choose recipes that can work with it. Tabouli is a great side dish that you can stretch to serve many guests just by adding more bulgur. If you adjust the seasoning accordingly, you change the recipe from a vegetable dish with tabouli into a tabouli dish with vegetables, a crowd pleaser no matter which way you go! Tabouli is also a great recipe to add vegetables that you have on hand and leave out the ones you don’t. Tomatoes can be fresh or canned (just be sure to drain the liquid if using canned) and celery or cilantro would make a nice addition.
Another great tip for getting the most of your Shabbat menu is to plan dishes that can be used the rest of the week. Dips such as hummus or a great mock chopped liver recipe (see below) can be used as a dip for crackers or vegetables, and can be used for sandwich spreads as well. Try it on a turkey sandwich made with challah — it is delicious!
Don’t think you can’t dazzle with gourmet treats when working on a budget. The flavor combination of coconut and banana is a unique way to use leftover challah. A creamy and decadent dessert (coconut milk is non-dairy) is always a crowd pleaser, no matter what the cost!
While stretching our dollars, let’s also remember to stretch out our guest list. It will pay you back in delicious meals and fond memories!
Hilary Belz is a local free-lance writer.