Birthday party on a budget

Whether it’s a birthday, the end of term, or you’re just celebrating the weekend, there’s always a reason to have a party. When times are tough on the wallet it can be difficult to celebrate guilt-free. Join Mike and Rachel as they help Tim plan a party on a budget for his birthday.

1. Make your own party food and drinks

Making your own food from fresh ingredients is cheap and can be quicker and easier than you think. Cooking in bulk means it’s cheaper if you’re cooking for a large amount of people. You can also save some leftovers for lunches!

Why not try Rachel’s chilli stuffed jackets below?

2. Music on the cheap

You don’t need a DJ to get your dance on – just a phone and a playlist. You can even get your friends to contribute their favourite tunes. If you need speakers, you don't need to go out and buy brand new. You could get old speakers fixed or, if you're feeling creative, you could try Mike's homemade speakers – all you need is a phone, some recycled kitchen tubes and some paper cups.

3. Location isn’t everything

Forget hiring out a space or going to an expensive bar – just dress up your back garden or living room with some soft furnishings such as pillows and blankets and bring the party to you. Just get your friends to chip in with the cleaning up to say thank you!

Full recipe - chilli stuffed jackets:

What you will need

  • Deep-sided baking dish
  • 2kg medium sized potatoes
  • 4 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • 1 brown onion, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crushed chillies, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x 400g tins red kidney beans in water, drained
  • 250g vegan cheese, grated

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C

  2. Place the potatoes in a large, deep-sided baking dish. Pour over 2 tablespoons of oil, and coat the potatoes using your hands. Sprinkle over ½ teaspoon of salt, and bake for 1 hour or until they have golden skins and are soft inside.

  3. While the potatoes are baking, make the chilli. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and, when hot, add the chopped onion and ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and golden. Add the garlic, spices and sugar, and cook for another couple of minutes until you can really smell the spices. Add the chopped tomatoes and kidney beans, stir well and cook for another 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Taste, making sure you’re happy with the flavours, then set aside to cool a little.

  4. After an hour, remove the potatoes from the oven and set aside until they are cool enough to handle. If you are preparing this ahead of time, turn the oven off – otherwise, leave it on 200C. Don’t let the potatoes get too cool, as the filling is easier to scoop out when they are still a bit warm. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice each potato in half. Scoop out all the flesh into a bowl, making sure that you leave some attached to the skin (if the skin is too delicate, it will fall apart when you fill it). Using a fork, break up any large lumps of cooked potato.

  5. Add 750g cooked potato to the frying pan with the chilli, and stir gently to combine. Carefully fill each half of potato skin with the chilli mixture, pressing it down firmly so that it doesn’t tumble out. Arrange the filled skins back in your deep-sided baking tray with the potatoes touching each other, so that they don’t fall over. Sprinkle with grated (vegan) cheese and bake for another 15 minutes until piping hot and the cheese is golden.

  6. Once cooked, carefully separate the loaded potatoes and arrange on a platter.

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