When I found out that a very good friend of mine had bought plane tickets to come and visit us this weekend, I jumped for joy. I haven’t seen her in two years, she hasn’t seen The Boy since he was 8 months old (that’s the two of them above) and she’s never met The Girl. The kids are going to love her and I know she can’t wait to wrap her arms around them.
Naturally (at least for me), after I shared the news of her visit with Mr. Crumbs, I started to think of food.
And let’s be real. I’m ALWAYS thinking of food!
Before they arrive here, they’re spending a couple days seeing the sights of San Francisco. My friend is an independent Beachbody coach (think P90X and yes, it’s a shameless plug) so I know she’s eating healthy. After a couple days of eating out for every meal, they’re gonna be craving some home-kitchen cooked meals.
I love to cook and I love to host company, but if I’m not careful, I can easily blow my entire grocery budget on their three day stay. Here’s how I’m staying in budget while still eating good:
1. Keep it simple.
They live in Louisiana and there’s food there. Meaning, they’re not coming to California to eat. They’re coming to see us and the kids! The food should be good, but it doesn’t have to be all crazy-like and shouldn’t be the focal point of the trip (despite what my tummy says).
2. Stick to native or local meat.
Tri-tip is an awesome cut of meat that you can’t find once you cross state lines and it’s often on sale here. I’m buying a large cut for BBQ tri-tip sandwiches (which also allows them a “taste of California”) and I’m making a two-fer out of it, which leads me to my next point…
3. Make two-fer meals to reduce time in the kitchen.
We’re using left-over tri-tip for tacos the next night. Cooking it once means more time spent with our friends.
4. Use in-season produce.
Corn is dirt cheap right now – I picked up 5 ears for $0.17 each last week. Lettuce is also super cheap since we live next to lettuce fields. For less than $1 per head (of the good stuff, i.e. butter, red, green leaf…) you can bet we’re having salads at almost every meal.
5. Make fresh bread.
Aside from the fact that my bread is irresistable, six people will be having sandwiches at lunch and that calls for a lot of bread. I’m making several loaves before they arrive so that we’re prepared for lunches. I’ll also make a couple loaves of spiced carrot bread before they arrive so an easy breakfast is ready for them without having to cook or dirty (and then feel obligated to wash) too many dishes (not that I mind). I’m also making our own buns for the tri-tip sandwiches, our own dough for pizzas and our own tortillas for taco night. Making our own breads saves a TON of money and feasting on the homemade versions just tastes better!
6. Be picky if/when you dine out.
I don’t know for sure if we’ll eat out, but if so, I’m going to be picky about where we go. We live in a tourist area so many of the eateries around here are over-priced and (honestly) not that good. We know where the really good places are and we’ll treat ourselves there instead. We’ll get great food, fun ambiance and not feel like we wasted our hard earned pennies on a morsel of a meal.
7. Make desserts go from ordinary to extraordinary.
Since Mr. Crumbs received an ice cream machine for his birthday, we’re firing that baby up and making some! I have everything needed for a basic vanilla, plus loads of candy toppings (also part of his birthday present) and fresh fruit. I even have brownie chunks and traditional sundae toppings, ready for each person to personalize their own dessert.
The best part of all? Much of the baked goods can be make before they arrive so I’m not sacrificing nutrition for convenience. I also already have most (if not all) of the ingredients for everything else we’re eating. If my calculations are correct, we’re eating like kings for less than the cost for us to eat one meal at a restaurant. Sounds like a deal to me!