If you’re about to hold a small dinner party, it’s good to remember that setting a good table doesn’t have to be expensive. One of the easiest to prepare and most economical items on your menu should be your appetizer. Because the appetizer is meant to be served before a meal as a finger food, it should not be too heavy or too rich or it might spoil the appetite of your guests. The key to preparing an inexpensive but tasteful appetizer is to use the right ingredients and to keep it light and uncomplicated.
- Keep it simple. Again, the best appetizers are thoughtfully-chosen, but unfussy. It’s best that you offer appetizers that are not messy to eat, and which can easily be held with one hand. Take into consideration the season and weather conditions when determining the appetizer to prepare. During the winter season, you might want to serve appetizers that are warm and comforting, while you could serve cool and refreshing foods during the summertime.
- Start with a budget. There are so many appetizer ideas that could fit any budget, so you should start with how much you will allot for the appetizer and then work from there.
- Use economical ingredients. If you want to serve fruit appetizers, the best way is to choose fruits that are in season and are widely-available locally. You could also go for more “fun” and mainstream appetizers, such as mini tacos, hotdogs, puff pastry or meatballs. This is an especially good move if the theme of your party is related to any of these foods (such as salsa and chips served during a Mexican-themed party).
- Consider using skewers. Little skewers could contain up to three different food items; it’s up to you to determine which food items to include. Some suggestions include the following: tropical fruit (such as large mangoes, melon and papaya); grilled vegetables (such as bell peppers, cucumber, zucchini and cherry tomatoes); cheese mixed with bread or olives; and grilled meat (such as salami, or lamb or beef marinated in special dressing). The key to successfully putting together appetizer skewers is to ensure that the combinations have complementary tastes.
- Serve dips. Dips are a great way to make even the most basic and simple of appetizers more special. The best thing about dips is that you could easily create them based on your specific preferences. One example of a dip you could make: combine one part mayonnaise to two parts sour cream, and add in salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. You could serve this Ranch-style dip with veggies or chips.
- Serve crackers. A very economical and effortless solution is to serve prepackaged crackers and biscuits to your guests. You could serve these biscuits with squares of cheese or homemade fillings. Nobody has to know that the biscuits you’re serving are actually store-bought.
Serving appetizers is a great touch to make your guests feel that you’ve really allotted effort towards preparing the party. Being the smart hostess that you are, it really pays to know of some shortcuts and great money-saving techniques to help you cut down on costs, without having to sacrifice the quality of your party. Good luck!