(Family Features) - Whether you're expecting family for the weekend or a dozen friends for a party, feeding a lot of people can be challenging. But with some creativity and wallet-stretching tips, you can satisfy the hungry hoards without breaking the bank.
Friday Night Dinner: Home-style Comfort Meal. Make a one-pot meal that's ready whenever they arrive: lasagna, layered potato casserole, a big pot of soup or stew. Offer plenty of cornbread, biscuits or good bread and butter.
Saturday Breakfast: Omelet Bar. Dub someone Chef and provide plenty of fixin's-shredded cheese, bits of cooked bacon or deli meats, cream cheese, smoked salmon, diced veggies. You'll use more eggs but fewer costly ingredients.
Saturday Dinner: Beef Brisket with Carrots. Slow braising is easy and effective for this less pricey cut of meat. The beef gets fork tender and fills the kitchen with tantalizing aromas.
Sunday Lunch: Creamy Crab Bisque. Make this delicious Southern soup in a New York minute. Serve with crackers and salad tossed with hearts of palm and vinaigrette.
Bake it Yourself. Fancy desserts can set you back, so learn how to make a signature dessert, whether it's an amazing batch of brownies or a simple apple tart. Less money for a lot more glory.
Go Back to the Future. Watching your food dollar is nothing new. Many comfort foods were born in budget days. So bring back the family favorites that feed dozens on a dime-meatloaf, baked ziti, chicken casseroles, vegetarian chili. Get recipes at wholefoodsmarket.com.
Get Value from Volume. A houseful is one time you can't buy too much of a good thing. Ask about case and volume discounts in all departments. Choose recipes so you buy big on discounted and sale items.
If you're hosting a party, you can save on great tasting dishes by making some simple substitutions.
The Usual: Guacamole
The Alternative: Black Bean Dip topped with chopped avocado. Guacamole uses three to four avocados. This uses just one.
The Usual: Smoked Salmon Slices
The Alternative: Smoked Salmon Spread. Smoked salmon's strong flavor penetrates cream cheese so you don't need much.
The Usual: Platter of Olives and Marinated Veggies
The Alternative: Bruschetta with Olive & Veggie Topping. This uses less, controls portions and the bread is filling.
For more recipes and money-saving ideas, visit wholefoodsmarket.com or check out Whole Foods Market's quarterly guide, called The Whole Deal, available in stores.