We have spent the last month with people in and out of our home. This is a great joy for us as it has always been part of our mission to share our home and lives with others. However, hosting that many people can be hard on the budget at times.
Over the years we have found that the vast majority of guests care only for the welcome they are given. They don’t care if our home is less than perfect, which it is. They don’t care if meals are fancy or gourmet. They don’t even care if our home is perfectly clean. What our guests usually want more than anything else is to know that we really want them in our home and for us to open our lives and hearts to them. Proverbs 15:17 says, “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.”
Even so, we do desire to give our guests the best we have to offer, and to make their stay with us as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. This is very doable even on a tight budget with a little planning and foresight. Meal planning is especially important if you want to provide nice meals for those in your home without spending too much. The first factor, of course, to consider is how long your guests will be with you. Is it just for one night or a whole week? How many will be staying with you and will they provide any of their own food?
One of the things I always like to check on is if there are any food allergies to take into consideration. If at all possible I try to accommodate the known needs and preferences. Once the information is all factored in, it is time to plan. I have several frugal but nice meals to choose from depending on the time of year and what I have on hand. Spaghetti is almost always on the menu. It is very frugal as long as you don’t use jars of store bought sauce. You can see my recipe below.
Spaghetti sauce stretches easily and can be made in large batches for freezing extras as well. Even whole wheat pasta can be purchased for about $1.00 per pound at Winco or Wal-Mart. Buying organic doubles the price of the pasta usually, so I can’t normally do that. I purchase the large #10 cans of crushed tomatoes and tomato paste from Costco and buy all my spices and seasonings in bulk. This reduces their cost a great deal.
Other frugal meal options include homemade chili beans served with grated cheese, homemade corn bread or 7 Hour bread, as well as a salad or vegetable sticks. There are a huge variety of soups to choose from that fit almost any budget. Cold soups can be served in summer, and heartier soups can be served at other times of the year. Our favorite soups to serve are chicken noodle, Rheinlander lentil, or a simple vegetable soup.
Breakfasts can be as simple and cheap as oatmeal made special with a few nuts, raw milk or fruit. We love to serve baked oatmeal or whole wheat pancakes if time permits. There are some great recipes for home made syrups out there that can help cut costs a little for the morning meal. I make syrup by bringing 1 cup of water to a boil, then adding 1 cup of raw sugar and 1 cup of brown sugar. After bringing it back to a boil, I remove it from the heat and add ½ tsp. of maple flavoring and ½ tsp. of vanilla. This can be mixed with real maple syrup to make it stretch farther or used as is. Some people prefer a lighter morning meal of toast and fruit or yogurt. By making the bread and yogurt yourself, and choosing local, in season fruit you can keep costs very low.
If you are still concerned about making your guests feel special, you or your children can make a cute homemade card and/or gift basket filled with homemade goods to be put by their bed. The basket can be filled with home canned goods such as salsa, pickles, or fruit. If you like to make crafts there is no end to what you can come up with. It is not the expense that you put out that makes someone know they are welcome, but the kind thoughtfulness that goes into welcoming them.
So, even if you don’t have a lot, don’t be afraid to open your home to others. Share what you have with a lot of love added and it will be a wonderful experience for all.
- 1 #10 can crushed tomatoes
- 2-3 cups tomato paste
- 3 pounds ground beef
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 pepper, chopped
- 1-2 small zucchini, grated
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
- Water for desired consistency
- Approximately ¼ cup Italian blend seasonings and ¼ cup basil
- ¼ cup sweetener (preferably sucanat or honey, but any will do)
- ¼ cup red wine
Directions: Brown the ground beef and set aside. Sauté the vegetables in the olive oil. In a large pot combine all the ingredients except the wine, adding enough water to make a nice sauce consistency. Simmer for about an hour, and then add the wine. Simmer another ½ an hour and serve over hot pasta. Freeze the remainder in meal size portions. This serves our family of nine for about three meals.
Heather is a wife and mother of seven and strives to create a home of beauty and purpose for her family. She believes that frugal, healthy living is part of stewarding the resources she has been given. Most of all she tries to remember that she is representing Jesus in all that she says and does. Heather can be found blogging at A Mother’s Calling.