With lots of social gatherings on the cards over the holiday season, there will be lots of food bills piling up.
That’s why our resident frugal chef Cindy Wang wanted to show how she can put on a dinner party for seven people and a toddler for under $30.
How she did it
“When I’m planning for a dinner party, first of all I set a budget appropriate for the number of people coming,” Cindy says. “For this dinner we’ve got seven adults, and I think $30 can comfortably cover that.”
“Once we set a budget, then I do my homework with what’s on special at the supermarket, and then I can decide what kind of dishes I want to make.
“You want to draw up the shopping list before going to the supermarket, so you know exactly what you're going to get and you won't blow your budget.
Unleash the potential of humble ingredients
“I love cooking, and I believe every ingredient no matter how expensive has potential. All you need to do is release that potential. So we can make wonderful dishes with very basic and simple ingredients.
“Look at the ingredients we’re using tonight. They are very basic. Potatoes, bread, veggies. It’s really what you do with them that matters. It doesn’t matter how humble the ingredients are, it’s what you do with them that matters.”
Get the guests to contribute
“You probably noticed that we didn’t include drinks in the budget,” Cindy says.
“Drinks can get quite expensive, so we asked our friends to bring over their own drinks, and they were quite happy to do that.”
Use cheaper cuts of meat
For the chicken fillets, Cindy used drums (one of the cheapest cuts of chicken) and removed the meat from the bone. It takes a bit more time but when compared to the price of chicken breasts, the savings are huge.
Try something different
“We’re just so used to the things we know. For example a chicken drum ends up a roasted chicken drum, a roast pork ends up a roast pork.
“But there are a lot of inspiring recipes out there that shows there are a millions ways to make them.
“Find something you like. Surprise your friends, surprise your family, surprise yourself.”
What the guests said
“We had a wonderful night,” Cindy said after the guests had left. “I had a lot of really nice comments about how yummy the food was, especially the chicken, the chips, and the wonderful dessert, and there was hardly anything leftover.”
But let’s not just take her word for it. Here’s what they actually said:
“I am amazed at how delicious a dinner can be for such a low cost per person,” said Dave “The great flavours of the herbs and spices and the fresh garden vegetables make all the difference”
Clint said: “It was impressive how much food there was. A large variety and it easily fed six people. The chicken was fantastic and everything had a ton of flavour.
“I wish I was that creative!”
- Curried buttermilk chicken
- Stir-fry twice cooked pork with veggies
- Egg and tomato
- Green salad
- Radish salad
- Garlic ciabatta bread
- Sichuan spiced potato chips
- Creme caramel
The total cost
“The whole dinner came down to $27.30, so if we did have to buy our own lettuce and radishes, it still would likely have come under $30.”