Dip-travaganza: Entertaining on a Budget

Going out can be expensive, but having people over can be frustrating. So what are you going to do? Well, before you slap on some lipstick for another night on the town consider how much are you really spending on cab rides, gas, movie tickets, drinks, appetizers? Save yourself some money and have a fun night in with your friends.

Having people over should be fun and uncomplicated. You don’t have to serve your guests a four-course meal or scrub down your baseboards with a toothbrush. All you need is a quick declutter and some chips and dip (have your guests bring the drinks), that and a deck of cards is all you need for a fun night in.

Clean up
Declutter by using our favorite tried and true trick: Simply grab a laundry basket and run through your house (just the main rooms the guests will be in) picking up the clutter and depositing it in the basket. Run a vacuum over your rug and a Swiffer over your hard surfaces and you are ready for a party.

Eat up
Chips and dip are a tasty way to snack on a night out with friends. Before you go to the grocery store to stock up on chips, check your paper for deals. Often stores have 2 for $5 specials. Also, buy off-brand tortilla chips. Tortilla chips go with anything and taste the same no matter what brand you buy them from.

Budget-friendly chips
Our favorite budget-friendly chips are the blue corn tortilla chips from Fit and Active. You can buy them at Aldi, often for $1.69 a bag. If you have a Sam’s Club membership, get a giant bag of tortilla chips. One bag should be good for the whole night and will save you a lot of money.

Here are some of our favorite dip recipes that you can make with inexpensive ingredients, many of them you can find in your cupboard or fridge.

Taco Dip

  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 1 oz package taco seasoning
  • 16 oz can refried beans
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1 16 oz container sour cream
  • 1 16 oz jar salsa
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever kind you have on hand)
  • vegetables- optional (peppers, olives, etc…)
  • Brown hamburger, and mix with taco seasoning and refried beans. You will need to add some water as well to make it not quite so thick. Place hamburger mixture into bottom of 9×13 pan. Mix sour cream and cream cheese, spread over refried beans. Spread salsa over cream cheese mixture. Top with vegetables if wanted, then finish with cheese. Bake in 350 oven until heated through (not sure how long I baked it, not very long though maybe 20 minutes or so, essentially it just has to be heated through).

    Barefoot Contessa Pan-Fried Onion Dip

  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise
  • Cut the onions in half, and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions) Heat the butter and oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt and pepper and sauté for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes, until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.
    Place the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well.

    Favorite Dips from AllRecipes.com

  • Fresh Cucumber Salsa—a great midsummer treat
  • Roasted Red Pepper Dip—add artichokes to this delicious dip for even more flavor
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