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If you are or ever have been fun-employed, in college, or just a bit price sensitive you know that throwing a dinner party seems scary. “How will I afford those Cornish Game Hens?” you ask yourself.  “Who will pay for all of that French wine?” You wonder. Well,  if you and your friends are strapped for cash, or just don’t feel like spending a lot of money on a get together, forget the ramen and P B & J, here are five easy tips to help you keep your budget in check and still have a great time.

1. Use what you already have 

Why bother going out to buy ingredients for a pasta dish when you have fresh ingredients to make a homemade pizza in your fridge?  How about the ambience? The Christmas lights that are collecting dust in your basement serve no other purpose in March than to act as a chandelier over your dinner table!  Have fun with it!

2. Recruit your friends and pool your resources

Chances are someone has the cup of flour you need to bake your delicious dessert or the measuring cup that you just can’t find. There is no point in making a trip (or trips) to the store when you can snag what you need for free?  The Zokos Website makes cost sharing for parties a piece of cake.

3. Let Everyone Contribute

Get everyone to pitch in, either monetarily or by letting them do what they do best by assigning roles. Ask your friend who is a photographer to take pictures for everyone, ask your friend with a nicer kitchen (if you don’t have one) if you can cook there.

4. Plan Ahead

Research lists, guides, and reviews to find the cheapest and best quality products in your area. Often times farmers markets and co-ops are cheaper because the product comes directly from the farm to you. You are also paying it forward by supporting the farmers in your area.

5. Keep It Simple

Don’t attempt to do so much that you are overwhelmed. The more you try to tackle when you cook, the more expensive it will be! Try to keep your party as simple as your budget allows, and enjoy what really matters, your friends!

And, after all that, If you are still stuck on what to make, Delish.com has some excellent recipes that are $3 and under per serving!