Saturday, May 12, 2012

Affordable Mother's Day Brunch for Less Than $16

I love hosting get togethers for all occasions, and with being a part of a large family I do find it's easier on those of us watching a budget (like me, definitely me) to have the celebrations at home. I have some favorites go-to tips for entertaining on a budget and my menu for tomorrow looks far more expensive and elaborate than it is. For less than the cost of going to a Mother's Day brunch locally (about $16-$30 a head in my area), I can pull together a delicious meal for 10-12 people. Here's what I'm serving and the cost per dish (and the number of servings it yields).

Sandwich Tray: includes chicken salad, deli ham, deli sliced black forest turkey, and (home roasted) lemon pepper roasted pork tenderloin slices, cheddar cheese, swiss cheese, and colby jack cheese served with a variety of bread options - yields 48-60 finger sandwiches. $3.25
Fresh fruit and veggie platter with baby carrots, organic celery sticks, strawberries, and pineapple chunks: $1.50
Mushroom and Cheese Frittata - yields 16-20 appetizer sized servings. $1.00
Traditional Sour Cream Coffee Cake - yields 12-16 servings. $2.00
Chicken and Gnocchi Soup - yields 24 cups of soup $3.75
Homemade Garlic and Parmesan croutons to top the soup - yields 12 servings. Cost $.25.
One large pitcher of southern style sweet tea - yields 16 glasses. Cost $.40
One large pitcher of lemonade - yields 16 glasses. Cost $.20

Dessert choices are:
Red Velvet Cupcakes - yields 24 cupcakes. $2.00
Cookie Truffles - yields 30. $1.20

Total Cost of a Mother's Day Brunch for 10-12 people: $15.50.
Cost to serve 10-12 people, $1.55 a head or less.

If you are wondering how I got the prices so low on the menu above, here are a few things I did to make this brunch easy on my wallet:

- I roasted the pork tenderloin for the sandwich platter, I actually bought a half pork tenderloin, took the time to cut it into 4 smaller tenderloins like you see in the store that are pre-seasoned and used a free after coupons marinade to bump up the flavor. My pork tenderloin will yield more than 60 slices for less than $2.00. I figure half of that will go in the sandwich tray and I'll reserve a portion for a dinner during the week for my husband and I. Cook once, eat twice - love it!

- I roasted a whole chicken with lemon and rosemary 2 days before the brunch, and cut the chicken into cubes for the soup and for my Italian chicken salad. The chicken salad was made with free after coupon condiments, keep my costs low.

- Bought the bread for the sandwich tray at the bread thrift shop near my home. I can get a loaf of bread for $.50 and picked up some dinner rolls for $.50 a package. You can also eyeball bakery markdown racks for some goodies, it's always been a huge help to me when I'm entertaining.

- I bought organic celery on sale cheaper than the regular celery and cut it into celery sticks, a no brainer, but super healthy on my budget.
- Ditto for the pineapple chunks, I bought a whole pineapple and used the chunks from half of it for the party.

- Made my own croutons from some leftover Italian bread I needed to use up, tons of flavor and it took less than 10 minutes to make a double batch on the stove top. Toss bread with a little olive oil and garlic, pan sear until golden and while hot, top with parmesan cheese and a touch or parsley for color. Done!

- Skip the soda and serve only water, lemonade, and sweet tea. Keep it simple and keep it fun.

- Made some homemade veggie stock to keep the cost of the soup down and to give the soup more robust flavor. I had the celery and carrots on hand and onions are usually cheap (about $.25 a pound or less around here), so I sauteed the veggies and made a simple stock during the week. I also used the stock with the chicken when I roasted it to give it more flavor and to keep it moist and tender while I roasted it.

- Made my own coffee cake. It's easy to make, uses basic pantry and fridge ingredients so I always have what it takes to make it and it yields double the amount of servings of a store-bought coffee cake at less than half the price. Same for the red velvet cupcakes, we spend less than half the store cost for quadruple the yield. My husband loves these and we use Paula Deen's recipe. Sometimes you have to go Southern's just the way it has to be.

That's a whole lot of entertaining for a very small price tag, best of all - I get to through a killer Mother's Day Brunch at home and honor some of the powerful and amazing women I'm lucky to have in my life. Entertaining is always fun and easy, all you have to do is set a budget, write a menu, and do a little extra chopping and stirring. It's incredible how much you can save when you spend a little time in the kitchen.

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