Monday, March 8, 2010

Wining and Dining Creatively

It's been about 9 weeks worth of WW so far, and life is good! Lots of weight is coming off all around, and everyone feels motivated. With the spring weather coming up, I know it will continue to boost our motivation to get moving and be slim and trim for the summertime. Yesterday was one of those gorgeous early-spring days here, and all I wanted to do was run at the park! My, how times have changed since the mornings where I'd rather lounge with a bagel and schmear :)

This weekend, we hosted some friends for a home-cooked meal, and it gave me the chance to face one of my bigger challenges - socializing while on A) a budget, and B) WW. It can really be a struggle these days with tighter wallets and (hopefully) looser jeans, to have the same kind of fun that we were all used to. Wining and dining is just not the same today. One of my most popular posts recently was the one about Girls Nights, and how we can't always live the lifestyle we all dream about. You all vocalized that you feel the same way. We have just had to get more creative! We are staying "in" more often than going out. But I am pumped, because out of this, something fun has arisen. The Dinner Party has been reborn!

What I have realized is that it's ok to wine and dine on a budget, and also while watching what you eat - you just have to have a plan of attack! Here are some of my strategies for throwing a dinner party at home with those ideas in mind, many of which I used for Saturday's fun evening.

* Plan the menu early in the week. This gives you time to get excited about the special meal, and to figure out what supplies you need.

* Get in a workout first thing that morning, before you get too busy with party prep. My new fav is spin class on Saturday mornings. This way you can feel perfectly fine about having a glass or two (or three!) of wine that night.

* Pick menu items that won't have you slaving in the kitchen, and do as much prep work as you can earlier in the day before guests arrive. Then, if the menu does require some cooking, you can just pull out the prepped ingredients.

* Big cuts of meat are often on sale, and can be wonderful main dishes. A big pork loin is one of my new favorites, and was only about $9 for 10 (huge) servings.

* Include lots of healthy menu items. If the main course is going to be a splurge (calorie or money-wise), pair it with simple sides like sauteed spinach, roasted potatoes, or carrots. You can always "fancy" those up with herbs.

* Appetizers don't have to break the bank (either way) either. Some of the best dips have only a few ingredients, and store-brand ingredients keeps it cheap.

* Dessert does not have to be complicated. Forget tiramisu. Recently I have done cut-up fruit drizzled with honey, and a brownie "pie" with whipped cream and berries. Yummy and so simple.

Enjoy the party! Have that glass of wine and relax, knowing your bank account and your waistline can all be happy too :)