Planning a dinner party on a budget

When you’re low on funds, your social life can start to seem like a distant memory, but arranging quality time with friends and family doesn’t mean you have to dip into your savings. Is there anything that says you care more than making a home-cooked dinner for your friends or family? “But I can’t cook” I hear you cry! Don’t worry – watch Rachel help cooking-novice Sam to plan an cheap and easy dinner party for all his friends to enjoy.

Make a simple main

  • Choose easy-to-cook and cheap ingredients, such as canned or fresh vegetables (fresh veg is the healthier option!) or try to buy a plant that produces these vegetables so you can have them all year round for less
  • Spices and herbs are cheap and can make all the difference in adding flavour to your meals. You can also buy a herb plant for a fraction of the price that you can use forever (or as long as you keep it alive!)
  • Rather than using meat, you can use alternative sources of protein (such as chickpeas, tofu or nuts) which often have additional nutritional benefits. A vegetarian option is often cheaper and healthier, especially if you cook in bulk.

Why not try Rachel’s curry dish below? It works out at less than £1 per portion – a lot less than eating out.

Decorate your dining room

  • You don’t need to buy new decorations to make your house feel homely for your dinner party. You probably have more than you think lying around. Think about what you can repurpose
  • Fresh water garnished with lemons and mint can make for a nice addition to the table and gives your friends something cheap, healthy and refreshing to wash down their food
  • If you’re struggling to accommodate all your guests, ask your friends to bring along some chairs, cutlery, pots or plates. You could even ask them to bring sides or desserts to accompany your main.

The full recipe – coconut chickpea curry (serves 4)

You will need:

  • A large pan
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • A thumb-sized (around 5cm) piece of fresh ginger
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ½ tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder
  • ½ tablespoon of paprika
  • 2 400g tins of chickpeas
  • 1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • Fresh coriander
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Rice or naan bread


  1. Chop the onion and garlic and fry in a couple of tablespoons of oil.

  2. Once browned, add the ginger, spices, chickpeas and herbs. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk.

  4. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook on a medium heat for 30 minutes.

  5. Serve with rice or naan bread and a garnish of fresh coriander.

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