Image by drurydrama (Len Radin) via Flickr
Hosting a meal for a major holiday like Hanukkah can be stressful–and pricy. If you are trying to keep the event under a certain budget, one of the most important things to consider is the number of guests you will be inviting.
Of course, if you are simply inviting all of your family members, this may not be under your control, but getting RSVPs can help you understand how many people you will be feeding and how much food you need. Once you know this, there are many ways you can work to keep your costs down. Focus on the main dishes. It’s likely that the first thing your guests will ask when you invite them is “what can I bring?” So let them! If you prepare the brisket, latkes, and maybe some matzah ball soup, you can ask your guests to bring additional sides and desserts. To ensure you have everything covered, you can either assign dishes or ask people to let you know what they are bringing.
Ask people to bring beverages. If you want to make the whole meal yourself, that’s totally understandable, but you can still get some help from your guests by asking that they bring drinks. Alcohol can often add quite a few dollars to your grocery bill if you buy it all yourself.
Check your pantry. What do you have on hand already? Try to base the dishes you will make around those ingredients to avoid having to buy as much later.
Prepare well in advance. Make an ingredient list for absolutely everything you’ll need for the big dinner as early as you can. Then you can keep an eye out in the supermarket ads for deals and coupons on things you’ll need.
Ask for help with spices. Purchasing herbs and seasonings can get expensive, especially if you only need a dash for one recipe. Before you buy something that you may never use again, ask friends and family if you can borrow a little.
Invest in decorations. If you plan to host this dinner for years to come, it makes sense to slowly build up items you need to decorate, such as a menorah, blue tablecloths, and garlands, and you want to buy things that will last so you don’t have to buy them again every year.
What are your tips for grocery shopping for Hanukkah dinner? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.
Juliana Weiss-Roessler has ten years of professional writing and editing experience. For four years, she managed the web content for the star of an Emmy-nominated reality series. Currently, she is an editor for the geek girl e-zine PinkRaygun.com, a contributor to the career blog at Resumark.com, and owner of the food blog CookFastLiveYoung.blogspot.com. Follow her @cookfast on Twitter and learn more about her work at WeissRoessler.com.