Hosting on a Budget

A hesitation people sometimes share with me regarding being more hospitable is the expense associated with opening up one’s home. While there are usually some additional costs that come with hosting, there are many ways to keep the expenses low and the quality high!

One example in my life comes from my brother, a missionary in Spain. He and his wife host people in their home frequently and have been invited to many delicious Spanish meals. However, they have noticed that these experiences amongst the Spaniards are fewer and farther between than one might expect. Their conclusion has been that because the hosts feel that they have to make the affair into a delicious production. Their practice of offering the very best in every course and glassful can get expensive and hence, they opt to host infrequently.

Photo by Cel Lisboa on Unsplash

While paella is absolutely delectable, this is such a tragedy!

            To a lesser degree, I do see this same effect in the US. Perhaps we don’t roll out the red carpet for a 3-hour mid-day meal the way our Spanish counterparts do, but we still fear that hosting might break the bank… or the monthly budget anyway.

            Because I came from a large family and am part of a medium-sized church, I find that I regularly host a number of sizeable gatherings in my home. In doing so, I desire to offer a tasty main course while still being a good steward of our family’s resources. Along the way, I’ve made some money-saving discoveries and hope that they help some of you as well!

1. Choosing the main course meat is the first step in keeping your expenses low.

Pork Sirloin Tip Roast at Costco comes in a 4-pack for $1.99 a pound. When compared to the cheapest red meat counterpart at Costco—the beef chuck pot roast for $5.49/lb. the extra $3.50/lb. adds up when you consider cooking 20+ pounds of meat required for a large group.

There are myriad delicious recipes for pork sirloin.

My most common go-to is simply roasting it in a slow cooker with a favorite BBQ sauce. Once the meat is done, I simply drain the extra liquid, throw the roasts in my Kitchen Aid and let the machine “pull” the tender meat for me. Then I throw it back in the crockpot, add some more BBQ sauce and stir. That’s IT! Serving BBQ pulled pork sandwiches is a super easy and popular large gathering dish, especially in the summertime! Invite your guests to bring a salad, watermelon, or their favorite side and dinner is served!

Another popular dish using a pork sirloin are carnitas tacos. My friend Kara’s version has become a popular one to eat over rice or in the form of a taco. Place the roasts over some sliced onions and cover it with chili powder in the slow cooker. Then pull once done, same as with the BBQ recipe. It leaves nothing to be desired! Again, serve over rices or place in tortillas and invite your guests to bring the different toppings! Voilà.

Chicken is another inexpensive meat. The Internet is now full of delicious suggestions! When I’m looking for an idea I just start searching images and stop when I find one that looks like what my taste buds are interested in!

One recipe that takes a little more prep time- and that looks a bit extra fancy- is our summertime favorite, Cilantro Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa, found at:

In fact, that one looks so good right now I think I’ll make it for dinner next week! 

If you’re up for trying something new like I did a few weeks ago, I used this recipe for a delicious, crowd-pleaser Thai Peanut Chicken served over rice:

Yum! Yum!

2. Host a baked potato or salad bar.

For a baked potato bar, you provide the baked potato and ask others to bring the toppings. Bacon bits, sour cream, chives, butter, grated cheese, avocado are just a few suggestions!

For a salad bar, you can provide the lettuce or the meat to go on top. Ask others to bring dressings, croutons, crumbled cheese, chopped veggies, another meat option, sliced pear… the list could go on!

Both of these ideas allows people to make the dish exactly to their taste!

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

3. Invite your guests to bring an appetizer, side dish, dessert or drink to share.

Asking others to bring something meets a few needs. It relieves you of the need to purchase, prepare, cook, and serve every element of the meal (taking a load off of you!) and it also aids in covering your expenses. Usually when hosting, the meat and the wine can be the most expensive pieces, especially when hosting a large crowd. As I always enjoy cooking the main meal, I don’t hesitate to ask friends to bring a bottle of wine to share. They don’t mind a bit!

Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

Most invitees will offer on their own but if you aren’t sure if they will, you can always word your invite in the following way: “We’re BBQing this Saturday and we’d love to have you join us. We’re providing the meat. If you can come, please bring a side or drink to share. Let me know if you can make it!”

Photo by Kirsty TG on Unsplash

4. Keep your decorations and hospitality pieces simple.

If you feel required to go purchase bouquets of fresh flowers, have beautiful glasses, plates etc. on hand but don’t already own them, ignore the urge to go shopping and either commit to using what you already have in your home or ask a friend if you can borrow items that you know will help add a desirable touch.

Photo by James Cousins on Unsplash

I hope some of these ideas point you in a direction where you can comfortably begin (or continue) exercising your hospitality muscles. Remember that those you invite will enjoy an opportunity to get to know you better and aren’t expecting a gourmet dining experience. Don’t let the idea of perfect get in the way of the good.

That being said, if someone were to look at my monthly expenses, they would accurately conclude that the bulk of my “personal” purchases revolve around food and hosting. I sometimes splurge on things that I want to have on hand. I’ve slowly developed a collection of cloth napkins, tablecloths, glasses, and dishes that bring me joy. But more often than not, the added monthly expenses are just what come from having people in our home.

When I look back on my life someday and assess how I spent my money, I know I won’t regret the extra expenses that have come with hosting. The friendships that have been forged and deepened over a shared meal will be some of the richest experiences on this side of heaven.

I Peter 4:8-11 encourages us, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

You may also like