Well, hello new friends! Jordan Page from FunCheapOrFree.com and BudgetBootCamp.com, here. My favorite part of the 4th of July (and all holidays in general, for that matter) is gathering friends and family to our house! In fact...I am a bit obsessed with entertaining. We have people over at least 1x per week year-round, and often times 2-3x per week throughout the summer (no joke). Sometimes we host just 2 people, and sometimes (like this past week), we host over 40 people at one time!

The most common questions I get asked are... "How can you afford to feed people so often??" and "What do you cook for so many people?"

Have no fear! Today I'm sharing my tips, tricks, and even guidelines for being able to feed a crowd on the cheap...especially for 4th of July!

1. Plan your menu

Here are some things to look at when planning your menu:

Number of people attending.
If you’re hosting a big party, you might not want to serve prime steak. Serve more affordable food for a big party, and you can go fancier for small gatherings.
TIP: Always ask for an RSVP by a certain date so you can get an accurate number. Doing it via text, Facebook, or email will get you the most results. People hate having to call!

Time of day you will be entertaining.
Time of day is a HUGE determining factor for what you should prepare. Here's a chart I made to help determine what you should serve:

Budget
Decide early what you are willing to spend and base your menu around it. Believe it or not, it's quite easy to do a party for cheap...or even free! Potluck, a BYOM (bring your own meat) BBQ, dessert party, even a pasta party all can be done for only a few dollars.

Time of year
Baked potato bars, soup bars, and pasta bars are perfect for winter months. Salad bars and BBQ's are perfect for Spring and Summer. Potlucks are great all year. Just consider what's in season (and what's on sale using the Flipp app !), and what time of year it is.
All of that being said, here are some examples of great menus that I use to feed a crowd on the cheap:

For a printable version of this list, click HERE

I always love a good Baked Potato Bar (did you know you can make baked potatoes in the slow cooker?? True story!). Remember...even the simplest (and cheapest!) meals can be delicious and a crowd pleaser.

2. Get Shopping

Here are some quick tips for keeping your grocery bill down when shopping for a party:

Stock up on things you can keep on-hand.
Throughout the year, watch the sales using Flipp! If you see condiments go on sale, stock up. Same with chips, paper plates, napkins, drinks, and other pantry items. This also goes for anything you can freeze (cheese, tortillas, meat, etc.).

Use what you have.
Before running to the store, open your fridge, freezer, cupboards, and pantry and use what you have! This goes for decorations, too. Trust me...you'll save A TON of money if you simply get creative with what you already have.

Plan your menu around what's on sale.
The week of your party, keep an eye on the ads via Flipp and use it to influence your menu. If Coke products are on sale that week, buy those instead of Pepsi products. If Heinz ketchup is cheaper than Hunts, buy Heinz. That alone will save you TONS. Use Flipp to help you find the best deals!
Buy bulk.
Buying bulk will save you tons of money when cooking for a crowd! Not only for food, but for paper goods as well.

So there you go!
Those are a few simple ways to feed a 4th of July crowd on the cheap! I have billions of additional ideas over on FunCheapOrFree.com and share all my budgeting secrets on BudgetBootCamp.com so check them all out, and enjoy your 4th of July!