family of 5 has been keeping a grocery budget for two years now, but I
have had to create a separate money envelope for "hospitality" to set
aside cash for extra groceries for when we bring dinners over to
friends and when we bring snacks to church and Bible studies.
just can’t seem to fit meals for our friends into our weekly grocery
budget. I also feel that if I sign up to bring a meal, it needs to have
bread, salad, and a dessert. Is that what you do as well?
night I took a meal of taco salad, corn bread, and brownies over to a
family (all relatively inexpensive items, or so I thought…) but I
ended up paying $12 for all the ingredients (it was actually double
that, but I made two meals for different families out of all the
ingredients I used).
what we are putting to pay off a school loan each month, we have little
room to spare in the meals we take to our friends. But I still want to
be able to help them out. I still have 3 more meals to go before the
month is up!! Do you have ideas on money-saving meals for friends you could help me out with? – JoAnna
Great question, JoAnna! I think that having a giving, hospitable spirit–even when you are on a tight budget–is so
important. Giving to others blesses us so much in return! However,
giving to others on a limited budget usually means we need to get
I remember once when my husband was in law
school and we were on a bare-bones budget a family we knew had gone
through a really traumatic time. We wanted to take them some food and
show them that we cared but we had next to nothing left in our grocery
budget to work with.
What did I do? I put on my thinking cap,
and got to work! I looked through my freezer and cupboards and was able
to scrounge up some snack goodies (that I’d gotten free with coupons!)
and then I made them some homemade pizza and a few other simple frozen
To spruce things up a bit, I wrote out pretty little
notes with encouraging Scriptures on them and taped them to each item.
Even though we couldn’t do much, I could do what I could do from a
heart of love and I know that meant more than if I’d brought them an
elaborate, five-star dinner.
So, my biggest advice is to keep it simple and focus on showering others with love and I’m sure your friends will be blessed–even if it’s a very frugal meal!
Just a few practical ideas:
-Plan your company meals around what you already have on hand and what is on sale. When
we are going to have company or bring food to someone, I look first
through our cupboards and through the store fliers and plan the menu
based upon that–just like I plan our own menus.
-Plan in advance for hospitality.
If you have a little extra room in your budget one week, buy some
ingredients to make up muffins or soup to stick in your freezer and
have on hand for taking meals to people. Or, double up your own meals
when cooking and freeze one to share. If you already have a few things
in your freezer to work with, it really makes it much easier to take
food to people or to have people over on the spur of the moment.
-Bring breakfast on Saturday morning.
A lot of times, breakfast or brunch foods can be less expensive and a
nice change of pace for a family–and who wouldn’t love a good homemade
breakfast to wake up to on the weekend. A pan of homemade cinnamon
rolls and some fruit would be simple to make and quite
inexpensive–especially if you used in season fruit. Or what about
bagels, muffins, and juice?
-Make up a pot of soup and a loaf of bread. There are so many soups which are inexpensive to make and can be so filling and delicious!
-Pair up with another friend.
If you know of another friend who might also be short on finances or
time, ask if she’d like to help you with making a meal. One of you can
make the main dish and bread, another the salad and dessert, and you’ve
just pulled off a great meal for half the cost. Or you could even go
together with three more friends and each only make one thing!
-Make homemade pizza, a green salad, and cookies or brownies. This is another very inexpensive, filling, and delicious dinner.
-Offer to bring over a basket of frozen goodies instead of a whole dinner.
Look through your cupboards and freezer and figure out some items you
can make with what you have on hand. Sometimes instead of making a full
meal, I’ll just make up some banana bread, muffins or rolls, and some
cookies and put them in a pretty basket with some notes of
encouragement taped onto them. Bring it over and tell the family they
can stick everything in their freezer and use them when they need to.
-Make up a basket of mixes.
I’ve always thought this was a nice gesture and can be done quite
economically. Best of all, the family can use them whenever they like!
You could make up a simple bean soup mix, bread mix, and cookie mix and
you have yourself a meal in a basket!
are just a few ideas. I’d love to hear from the rest of you: How do you
afford to be hospitable or to take food to others on a limited budget?
What ideas do you have for JoAnna and the rest of us?
Originally published March 2008.