Photo Credit: Coupons for Change
"I grew up with a single mom in a house where money was tight, and I didn’t always know where my next meal was coming from," explains Melissa d'Arabian, host of Food Network's "Ten Dollar Dinners."
That’s why she’s teamed up with Coupons for Change to launch the “Help Set a Place at the Table” campaign, which will connect a child in need to a meal for every three coupons used from CouponsforChange.org.
The TV host knows firsthand that coupons, combined with other smart shopping strategies, can be a huge help. Here, Melissa shares her tips for entertaining during the holidays on a shoestring budget:
Trick Your Guests
Whether you’re hosting a family dinner or a casual party with friends, save big by using inexpensive proteins in your first course. Just like the best buffets, which feature tasty yet inexpensive items at the front and pricey showstoppers at the end, serving starters that include affordable and filling proteins like beans, eggs and lentils (like BBQ Ranch Deviled Eggs or Black Bean Hummus) will allow you to offer a pricier and smaller second course (like shrimp or steak) that will seem incredibly satisfying and plentiful.
Shop Smart for Groceries
Holiday staple ingredients are usually cheapest this time of year because stores put them on sale as a way to draw you in (Who can resist the 88-cent can of pumpkin puree?). The idea is that you'll load up the rest of your cart with more expensive groceries while you're there. The solution: Stock up ahead of time on your non-holiday staples since the sales may be sparse when you need them most.
Take the Easy Route for Everyday Meals
Often, putting a nutritious, delicious and wallet-friendly dinner on the table during the holiday season can seem like a daunting task. During these times, I rely on one of my ingredient-flexible recipes like Any Veggie Soup, Four-Step Chicken or Crisper Drawer Pasta (from Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes & Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week) because they allow me to maximize use of what we have on hand (so nothing goes to waste) while minimizing dinnertime stress.
Start a Holiday Food Tradition
Every year, I host a mother-daughter tea party with my girls -- a tradition started by my own mom when I was a kid. The holiday season just wouldn't be complete without it. Many people have told me they loved the idea of creating an entertaining tradition, but they were intimidated.
You can serve a simple and budget-friendly menu for your own holiday dinner party tradition -- my pennies-per-serving Potato-Bacon Torte is a must in our house –- and still make people feel special. Traditions like these provide a great way to get the kids involved -- from helping with the decorations to preparing dippers for the crudite platter.
To start saving (and helping), go to couponsforchange.org to print coupons.