4 Ways to Save Money on Meals While Hosting Out of Town Family

When you live on the other side of the country from your extended family, it’s a special treat when they come to spend a few weeks with you. Not only do you get to spend quality time together, but you get to show them your neck of the woods and play the role of tour guide too. Hosting and introducing the family to your state or region may be fun, but it can also be really expensive — especially if you’re used to living frugally.

If you have out-of-town family visiting this summer, here are some practical ways to address the financial strain it might create without letting it stress you out or take away from enjoying the time you have with your guests.

1. Start anticipating and stocking up on foods they enjoy.

Everyone has their own favorite go-to products, brands, and eating habits. While your guests may politely eat your organic, all-natural peanut butter, they may be secretly wishing they’d brought their own stash of JIF. It can get expensive to purchase items you don’t normally use just to have them in stock for your guests, but it’s also a part of being a good host who tries to make visitors feel as at home as possible.

To prepare, ask them to get you a list of their favorite snacks and staples and start looking for sales, and digital and print coupons. Purchasing these items on sale will put less stress on your grocery budget while still accommodating your family members’ taste buds.

2. Eat at home as much as possible.

It can be tempting to get carried away by taking everybody to all your favorite restaurants around town. After all, it’s a special occasion! Unfortunately, this can also derail your usual eating out budget much faster than a slightly higher grocery bill, even if you split the tab. The first tip is to make meals at home several nights a week and keep eating out for on-the-go weekend tourist activities. Even if you don’t enjoy cooking or think you’re good at it, choose the few things you do well and your efforts will shine. Grilled burgers with unique toppings or homemade pizzas are a few fun, cost-efficient options.

When you do eat out, focus on restaurants that double as entertainment or ambiance – something memorable, not just your everyday chain restaurant. Since these types of places tend to be more expensive, keep your eyes on Groupon, other deal apps, and local coupons that can save you money. If you haven’t already, set your favorite site’s preferences to receive email alerts for restaurant deals.

3. Use your dinnerware.

It’s easier to grab a pack of paper or plastic dinnerware when you’re feeding a few more mouths, but the costs add up fast too. If there’s ever a time to use your own dishes, it’s when you have guests. After all, guests are usually eager to pitch in and help clean up the dishes or at least load the dishwasher.

4. Stick to your routine.

Your guests don’t expect you to prepare a four-course meal for them every day they are visiting. They probably don’t eat like that at home, and neither do you. For instance, if you tend to eat light breakfasts, offer your guests options, but don’t feel like you need to prepare a breakfast buffet every day. Instead of assuming they expect large breakfasts or dessert every night, take the pressure (and expense) off by sticking close to your usual meal routine.

Entertaining out-of-town family is a blast, but it doesn’t have to blow your grocery budget or go against your frugal kitchen habits. Expect to spend a little more while your guests are in town, but prepare ahead of time, look for deals, and stick to your routine in ways that are both manageable and courteous. Happy hosting!

Article Source: Jessica Sommerfield for Moneyning.com

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