A Casual Dinner for 6 You Can Throw Together in $30 (Yes, It Can Be Done!)

Three budget-friendly courses to gather ’round.

October  5, 2018

I don’t throw dinner parties. Mainly because I feel that you can’t really throw "dinner parties" proper when you don’t have a table. (Such is the price of living in a Manhattan shoebox.) Instead, I like to invite a few friends over, open a bottle of wine, and put out the cheese. Everyone’s happy.

Well, kind of.

Because as much as I love these casual hangouts, they don’t feel quite as satisfying as a full meal. Plus, I can’t help but feel that when my friends leave my place, they stop to grab pizza or tacos on their way home... So, in an effort to treat my friends this weekend, I decided to use my wine and cheese budget, about $30, to plan a full-on dinner for six.

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Sure, it’s a little messier than my normal hangouts, but I’ve realized that you don’t absolutely need a table to feed your friends casually and bountifully. Just, friends!

Something to Nibble On

For the hummus:

$1.29 worth of canned chickpeas (1 can @ $1.29 each)
99 cents' worth of lemon (1 lemon @ 99 cents)
12 cents' worth of garlic (roughly 4 cloves from a 51-cent head)
$2.75 worth of tahini (roughly 2/3 cup from a $8.29 bottle of Roland tahini)

For the pita chips:

$3.38 worth of plain pita bread (1 piece @ $1.69 each)

Total course cost: $8.53

The Main Event

For the carrots:

12 cents' worth of garlic (roughly 4 cloves from a 51-cent head)
28 cents' worth of ground cumin ($3.99 per container)
31 cents' worth of ground coriander($3.49 per container)
3 cents' worth of red chile flakes ($3.29 per container)
$1.49 worth of young carrots (1 pound @ $1.49)
$1.99 worth of cilantro (you're splitting it with the recipe below!)

Total dish cost: $4.22

For the chicken:

$1.29 worth of canned chickpeas (1 can @ $1.29 each)
$2.26 worth of potatoes (1 pound bag @ $1.29 each)
51 cents' worth of garlic (51 cents per head)
$3.75 worth of bone in, skin on chicken thighs (1 pound @ $2.19)
$1.98 worth of lemon (99 cents per lemon)
Three cents' worth of brown sugar (1 pound bag @ $1.99)
13 cents' worth of mayonnaise ($3.99 per jar)
Four cents' worth of buttermilk ($2.69 per quart)
16 cents' worth of harissa paste ($8.93 per jar)
12 cents' worth of chile flakes ($3.29 per container)
Eight cents' worth of tomato paste (99 cents per can)
12 cents' worth of soy sauce ($3.19 per bottle)
21 cents' worth of dry-roasted whole cumin seeds ($1 per ounce)
Five cents' worth of Greek yogurt ($1.19 per container)

Total dish cost: $10.73

A Sweet Finish

For the pudding:

17 cents' worth of butter ($1.37 per stick)
50 cents' worth of sugar ($1 per pound bag)
$1.16 worth of eggs (1/2 dozen @ $3.49)
12 cents' worth of all-purpose flour (66 cents per pound)
99 cents' worth of lemon (99 cents per lemon)
40 cents' worth of milk ($1.59 per quart)

Total course cost: $3.34

And the grand total for your feast? $26.82! Now, go spend that $3.18 wisely.

What's your favorite way to entertain on a budget? Share menu ideas and recipes in the comments below!

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Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.