Home Cooks Share Their Favorite Cheap and Delicious Meal Ideas for Entertaining Guests

Many types of tacos on the table.

Gulcin Ragiboglu/istockphoto

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happy friends having christmas dinner at home

Host with the Most (for Less)

Hosting friends and family is one of life's great joys. It's not just a great time to bond and catch up, it's also the perfect opportunity to showcase your culinary skills and explore new cuisines. In my home, we have guests over for a weekly dinner and try to make a dish from a different country each time. 

Though cooking at home tends to be much cheaper than eating out, cooking for multiple guests can quickly add up and drain your wallet. But that doesn't mean you should end your love for hosting and entertaining. Here are nine cheap and delicious meal ideas Redditors suggest for entertaining guests on a budget. 

Taco with beef, pork and chicken. Variations of tacos.
Gulcin Ragiboglu/istockphoto

DIY Taco Bar

A DIY taco bar is a great choice, because it allows you to customize ingredients based on affordability while still providing a fun and interactive dining experience for your guests, Redditors say. "They usually sell a street taco kit at most grocery stores for under 20 bucks," writes one user, adding, "It’s my go to when I have guest(s) — makes like 12 tacos with all the fixings." Why, don't mind if we do!

Recipe: Food Network

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marbella With Polenta

Who said you can't serve gourmet meals on a budget? Not us. One Redditor shares how their friend served chicken (thighs) Marbella with a side of polenta, and the dish was both "delicious and felt really fancy." The user notes that the meal was "actually really easy and budget-friendly," adding how they "recreated the meal at home and it was a hit. Literally a sheet pan meal." 

Try it with sautéed mushrooms on top and prepare to have your world rocked!

Recipe: NYT Cooking

Bowl with preserved steamed brown lentils close up

Lentil Sloppy Joes

If you have vegetarian friends in the mix, give this creative recipe a try. "One [recipe] that’s always popular with my friends: lentil sloppy joes," writes one user, adding, "I started using this recipe because we have a lot of vegetarian friends, but you’re really not missing the meat." For an even more cost-efficient alternative, use canned lentils, the user adds. I'll be trying this one out immediately!

Recipe: Monkey & Me Kitchen Adventures

Risotto with mushrooms, cheese and thyme. Vegetarian food. Italian food.
Vladislav Chusov/istockphoto


Risotto is another solid choice for a budget-friendly dinner party, as it calls for simple and affordable ingredients like rice, chicken stock, and vegetables. A versatile and delicious dish, risotto can be easily customized to different taste profiles, and is sure to impress your guests with its gourmet appeal. "Butternut squash risotto is personally one of my favorite recipes to make for dinner guests," writes one user.

Recipe: Love & Lemons

Related: These Pasta Recipes Are Taking TikTok by Storm

Pot Roast Dinner

Mississippi Pot Roast in a Slow-Cooker

A Mississippi pot roast is another budget-friendly meal that can effortlessly feed a large number of guests. By using affordable cuts of beef, a handful of pantry staples, and the slow-cooking method, this flavorful dish will help stretch your budget while still providing a feast for everyone to enjoy. "Mississippi pot roast in the crockpot," writes one user, adding, "Cheap cut of meat that you can make delicious!"

Recipe: All Recipes

Related: Five-Ingredient Soups and Stews for an Easy Meal

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Stir Fry

A stir fry is a crowd-pleaser in our house, and the best part is how cheap the ingredients are. "It can feel fancy but is super customizable to whatever your guests like (meat, vegetarian, etc)," writes one user, adding, "You can buy whatever vegetables are on sale too, and pair with whatever rice/grain [or noodles] are most affordable for you." 

Recipe: Garlic Head

fried salmon fish fillet with rice and asparagus

Salmon With Potatoes and Veggies

"Salmon with potatoes and [vegetables] will be maybe $5 per portion at the most," writes one Redditor. Indeed, salmon can often be found at reasonable prices, and pairing it with budget-friendly ingredients, such as potatoes and seasonal vegetables, can ensure you end up with a delicious meal that won't break the bank. 

Recipe: Tasty

Related: Would You Eat Fake Salmon Even if It’s Cheaper?

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Freshly baked pizza with arugula, tomato, red onion and mozzarella

Homemade Pizza

"Homemade pizza," writes one Redditor, adding that while it takes some work, it's relatively easy to make if you already have most of the ingredients. Plus, it "doesn't cost much," adds the user. By taking advantage of basic ingredients like flour, yeast, tomato sauce, cheese, and various toppings, you can customize your pizza(s) to different taste preferences and dietary restrictions.

Recipe: Simply Recipes

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