We all love throwing dinner parties, but it can be quite a pricey affair. Or so we thought, until we spoke to Channel 4's Sunday Brunch presenter, food and drinks journalist and cookbook author Rebecca Seal, to get her top tips on being a fabulous host while not breaking the bank. The TV presenter tells HELLO! Online: "I love experimenting with unusual herbs and spices, as well as seasonal produce, plus lesser-known wines or spirits, all of which can be much less expensive choices."
Throwing dinner parties needn't be pricey, says Sunday Brunch presenter Rebecca Seal
Scroll down for 5 tips to help you host spectacular dinner parties for less:
1. Buy wine from lesser known countries
If you chance upon a bottle of wine from somewhere like Turkey, Romania or Slovenia, you can bet that it's a favourite of the supermarket's wine buyer. Wines that have a reputation already, like French Sauvignon Blanc or Italian Pinot Grigio, are easy to sell, but unusual wines have to be really good to get on a supermarket's shelves and they tend to be cheaper because they can't command high prices.
2. Go veggie for the night
Meat and fish tend to be the most expensive things we cook so to cut the cost, don't serve them. Instead, focus on inexpensive seasonal vegetables - in summer, a platter of hot and buttery British asparagus; in autumn, salads made with shaved beetroot, fennel and toasted nuts; in winter, comforting bakes with celeriac and cream.
Sticking to veggies, trying wine from lesser known countries and going for frozen foods keeps the cost down
3. Use frugal cuts of meats
If you can't bear the idea of a meatless meal, choose cuts of meat that don't cost the earth: marinade chicken wings in chipotle paste before cooking them until sticky and crisp; or get into slow cooking - oxtail, lamb's neck or stewing beef won't break the bank, and all taste luxurious when given a few hours in a low oven.
4. Head to the frozen food aisle
Frozen fish tends to be much cheaper than fresh fish and if you're making a rich fish pie or a spicy curry, there's no need to use fresh haddock, salmon or cod. Some fruits, such as raspberries, also freeze brilliantly and can be defrosted to use in desserts or cocktails. If you have leftover fresh herbs, these can be chopped and stored in a freezer bag in your freezer and used for recipes as and when you need them.
Rebecca loves affogato - vanilla ice cream with a shot of hot coffee poured over it
5. Keep sweet things simple
If you've gone all out on the previous courses, there's no need to rustle up a complicated and pricy dessert. My current favourite is affogato - an absurdly simple pud of vanilla ice cream with a shot of hot coffee poured over it, plus a few amaretti biscuits or butterscotch pieces crumbled over the top.
Rebecca is currently lending her culinary expertise to judge the ‘Wine and Dine’ challenge of the Nectar Savvy Lifestyle competition.