Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Cheap Superbowl!

My mom, who just celebrated her 50th birthday yesterday, has been a piano teacher for over 30 years. Growing up, she hosted dozens and dozens of events, recitals, performances, Victorian teas, fundraisers, and parties in our home. She pulls out all the stops for each of these, and has always done it on a budget. I've watched over the years how a little bit of prep-work on your end can save a lot of money on the grocery shopping end.

Before each of these events, my brother and I (sometimes cousins and friends, too!) would each receive a chopping board and a knife and be put to work. Meanwhile, my mom would assemble an amazing antipasto platter that would be featured prominently in the center of the kitchen, on a rolling butcher's block.

To put things in perspective: our local grocery store has a 3 pound vegetable platter for $27.99. I've seen meat and cheese platters, pre-packaged for ~$15. By doing the work yourself, you not only cut the cost, but also have the freedom to choose the quality, quantity, and variety of your own ingredients. This is especially important if one of your guests has an allergy.

I'm not sure how many pounds of vegetables I cut up, but I know it was a lot more than 3, because I cut up 2 pounds of carrots alone. Also, 1 bunch of celery, 2 green peppers, 2 cucumbers, and my receipt says 1.49 pounds of broccoli. My cost? $9.83!

I made my own dip from sour cream and a soup packet, because I was unable to find a container that didn't contain whey. Not only did this end up saving me money, it is healthier and tastes better, in my opinion. The 12 oz. container of dip was on sale for $2.89, but my 16 oz. home made version cost $2.67.

Finally, I cut up my own brick of cheese and roll of pepperoni. Add the buy one get one free box of crackers that I also had a $1 off coupon for, and the entire platter totals $7.14.

All this washing, peeling, and cutting took me less than an hour and I actually enjoyed it! Maybe it's all those years of practice, but I find it relaxing to sit at the counter and work my way through vegetables, meat, and cheese - turning them into neat platters as the end result.

Happy Superbowling, everybody! And heads up to my fellow Chicagoland neighbors: Monday night at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel is Anthony Bourdain No Reservations: Chicago.

"Anthony Bourdain loves the edge and energy of big cities. So how is it that he has avoided Chicago for so long? In this episode of "No Reservations," Tony sets off to rectify this situation and to finish some unfinished business of his own – to discover new culinary treats, and the secret of the ever-popular deep-dish pizza."

***Contests alert***

Biz, I'm thinking that Easy-as-Pie-Pizza one has your name on it! Personally, the healthy whole grains one is calling to me!


Nowheymama said...

I love Tony Bourdain.


Anonymous said...

Great deals you found! You can't beat fresh veggies for snacking either.

Anonymous said...

Great spread! And thanks for the heads up about Anthony Bourdain tonight!!

I'll have to check out that link, as soon as my coughing stops!!

Christina said...

Congrats on your team winning, NoWheyMama!

Alisa, I LOVE the leftover fresh veggies. They've already been cleaned and cut up - so perfect for future snacking and cooking.

Anonymous said...

good idea to make your own platter! I've seen them everywhere in grocery stores for RIDICULOUS prices, so it's brilliant that you decided to do it yourself. I totally agree with you that the cutting aspect of prepping a dish is super therapeutic!! I always make my boyfriend do the stir-frying while I do the cutting. :) It's less stressful. Hope you're having a fabulous day so far!

Anonymous said...

Great ideas, although I'm a day late. :) Thanks for commenting & following my blog. I'm in love with yours already!