Eat Well, Spend Less: August Wrap-Up and a SodaStream

This month the Eat Well and Spend Less series was all about entertaining in the summer months. Planning a get-together? Here are a few tips to help make your entertaining easier, as well as a chance to win a SodaStream Crystal Machine to make entertaining at home a breeze.

Funny as I write this that I have just returned home from a weekend in Pennsylvania for Big Summer Potluck where I was treated by Pam Anderson of Three Many Cooks and her gorgeous daughters, Maggy and Sharon, opening their doors to us and hosting, along with Erika from Ivory Hut. People who opened their doors and invited others in, for better or for worse, and it was for the better. If anyone knows how to do some summer entertaining, it is this group of women.

After I shared my thoughts on entertaining in small spaces last week, a number of people walked through my own door, people who were there to chat and get to know each other better, to talk business and to talk about the weather. We utilized several of my tips for entertaining in small spaces, moving conversation outside, serving buffet style and occupying the kids while guests are around.

The Art of the Potluck

Aimee shared tips on how to throw a successful potluck, one of my favorite ways to entertain, reminding you as the host of what your responsibilities are and how to avoid everyone showing up with the same dish. She also shares how to be a gracious potluck attendee, what to bring, when to jump in and how to show your host you’re thankful.

Hospitality Without the Hassle

Hosting can sometimes be stressful, especially when you’re doing it all. Carrie has the answer to keeping a cool head and making it all happen. She gives ideas on different kinds of hosting and different times of day to invite people over, as well as possible things to serve.

Budget-Friendly Potluck Meals

Like Aimee, Jessica talked about the beauty of the potluck meal, but rather than focus on the aspect of hosting one, Jessica focused on the act of creating a dish to bring. What makes a good potluck dish to share and how to think outside the box to bring something everyone can enjoy are all covered here.

Simple and Inexpensive Hostess Gifts

What about when you aren’t the host of the party? Katie has great ideas on how to show the host how thankful you are, including a recipe for vanilla scented sugar and several other homemade hostess gift ideas.

The Gift of a Meal

I love gifting food. If I could, I’d do nothing but cook and gift all day long, and Katie shares how important the simple gift of a meal can be and how cooking for others is the perfect way to show how much you care. She even includes several ideas to get you started on what types of meals to gift.

Throwing a Party on a Budget

I mentioned in my post that we threw parties even when Ole was a graduate student and we were living on a shoestring budget. Mandi breaks it down, sharing how to throw a spectacular party even when finances are tight or you don’t want to break the bank.

Host on a Budget

Tammy breaks down the meal portion of hosting on a budget, helping you plan a frugal menu of delicious food.

One thing I learned this past weekend was the beauty of a self-serve bar. Bottles of tonic and ginger soda, vodka, gin and plenty of wine was poured at Big Summer Potluck. It is in that spirit that I’d suggest an Italian Soda bar, where guests mix their own sodas.

We have been trying out a SodaStream for the past week, carbonating our own water and adding bits of flavor. It was perfect for our ginger-infused simple syrup, and we even made a few other syrups recently to switch it up a bit (stay tuned).

One reader will win a SodaStream Crystal Machine Starter Kit to make your own carbonated beverages in your house, and I’m so excited to share it with you. My favorite things:

  • The Crystal Machine features glass bottles, which are gorgeous in their own right. They’re perfect for entertaining.
  • It’s cheap to use. One CO2 canister makes 60 Liters of carbonated beverage in your own home with zero packaging waste. It’s frugal and environmentally friendly.
  • You know exactly what you’re getting. Use water directly from your tap or filter to carbonate. SodaStream makes flavorings for both soda and flavored water, but you can also add natural flavorings, make your own syrups and you have complete control over your beverage. That’s definitely eating well in my book.
  • They’re available locally. Williams Sonoma, Sur la Tab, Macy’s and many other stores carry SodaStream products should you desire extra carafes.

HOW TO ENTER TO WIN a SodaStream Crystal Starter Set

1. Leave a comment about anything that strikes your fancy: when’s the last time you entertained, what’s your favorite dish to bring to a potluck, whatever.

2. Follow @FoodforMyFamily and @SodaStreamUSA on Twitter and tweet the following, and come back and let me know you did:

Win a @SodaStreamUSA Crystal Machine from @FoodforMyFamily #giveaway

3. Join the Food for My Family community on Facebook. Come back and leave a comment letting me know you did so.

4. Join the SodaStream community on Facebook. Come back and leave a comment letting me know you did so.


This giveaway will run until Sunday, August 7th at 11:59 p.m. EDT and is open to all U.S. residents. A winner will be chosen at random using from all eligible entries. Each reader has 4 chances to win by completing the above tasks and leaving a separate comment for each entry method completed. Chosen winner must respond within 48 hours of notification to claim their prize. Good luck!

SodaStream sent me a to review of my own because I’d seen their product at a booth and really wanted to be able to share them with you. I was not compensated for this post and the views and opinions are my own.

I hope these ideas have given you a few ideas on how you can eat healthy and wholesome foods without breaking the bank this summer. Enjoy the next few months of vacations, swimming and laying in the sun!

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  1. Great info!!! I usually like to split up what to bring in categories and let my guests decide what they want to bring. That way we avoid dupilcates. I just held a tapas party earlier this year and it was a blast!!

  2. I’m following you on twitter at @FoodforMyFamily and @SodaStreamUSA
    (ProjectGreenMom is my username)

  3. I follow you on Facebook! (that’s how I saw this blog post!)

  4. I’m now following SodaStream on FB!

  5. I got a soda stream for my dad for father’s day and he absolutely loves it, it’s such a clever thing!

  6. My children both have summer birthdays, and we often have Italian sodas at their parties. A soda stream would make those treats so much less wasteful – no empty plastic bottles!

  7. just discovered okra…and I love it! Can I make gumbo in the summertime?

  8. …now following sodastreamUSA!

  9. already LIKE you on FB and now LIKE SodaStreamUSA!

  10. My favorite potluck recipe is definitely mini cheesecakes for dessert. Finger food with easy cleanup!

  11. I love to bring Banana Pudding for a potluck. Now I can’t bring anything else because everyone loves it πŸ™‚

  12. We had another couple over for lunch Sunday and had fish tacos, Texas caviar, and hummus. It was easy to prep ahead and indoor grill the fish right before eating.

  13. All I can say is that I really want this!

  14. Trying to give up soda, so I would love to try making my own sparkling juices!

  15. I think my 2 year old would get a kick out of this machine!!

  16. I wish I could entertain more. We live in a small apartment so we don’t have people over often, but I love to bring a great dessert when I go to someone else’s house!

  17. I like Food for My Family on Facebook

  18. I like SodaStream on Facebook

  19. I like Sodastream on Facebook.

  20. I like Food for my family on facebook.

  21. I follow on twitter. @xofroggiegrlox

  22. My favorite “soda” is sparkling orange juice. Mmmmm.

  23. I am a follower of your wonderful blog on FB.

  24. I am a follower or Soda Stream on FB as well.

  25. My favorite dish to bring to a potluck is homemade salsa!

  26. I really enjoy the Eat Well, Spend Less posts! πŸ™‚

  27. I follow Food For My Family on Facebook!

  28. We were just talking last week about how we would LOVE to have a Soda Stream Machine, but I was concerned about the plastic bottles. I’m excited to know that there’s a glass version!

    I already follow @foodformyfamily on Twitter.

  29. I just liked Food for My Family on Facebook.

  30. I just liked SodaStream on Facebook.

  31. My favorite thing to bring to a potluck is an upscale appetizer like bruschetta with goat cheese, stewed figs, and prosciutto.

  32. I love bringing spinach and artichoke dip to potlucks. It’s the one time I really indulge in my favorite dip!

  33. Fan of SodaStream on Facebook!

  34. Fan of Food for my Family on Facebook.

  35. Tweeted about the giveaway, @goofycancook

  36. I have been watching these to see if they go on sale!!! My oldest son, with Autism loves gadgets and soda. I think he would have SO much fun with this!

  37. Oh I would love the Soda Stream!!

    I do a fair amount of entertaining in the summer months. It is so fun!

  38. I have been a fan of your Facebook page for a while.

  39. I love the idea of making my own fizzy water! I haven’t entertained in ages…. might be time to start!

  40. Jackie H. says:

    I have always wanted to try a soda stream machine! What a breeze that would make entertaining, every guest could customize a drink. Awesome!

  41. Jackie H. says:

    Liked your FB page πŸ™‚

  42. Jackie H. says:

    Also liked the SodaStream page.

  43. Hello. I’m a fan of your writing and fizzy H2O. We have been using a soda siphon for 5-6 years now and love it but there is always room for improvement. I would like to make homemade tonic H2O.

  44. I love having friends over for dinner. There’s just something wonderful about getting together to eat, laugh and talk! One of my favorite things to do. πŸ™‚


  45. Following Food for my family on facebook.

  46. Following Soda Stream on facebook.

  47. Love to have friends and family over for dinner, and I find that the more simple I keep things the better. One thing everyone always remembers is dessert so I try to make it outstanding…grilled fresh peaches drizzled with a great balsamic vinegar in summer or Italiam cream cake in colder weather or s’mores with homemade marshmallows and a really fine chocolate.

  48. Great giveaway! I love to have people over during the summer to grill. It’s so much fun to throw some BBQ chicken and vegetables on the grill and chat while it’s cooking!

  49. michelle says:

    we have been doing lots of off site picnic style potlucks with kids and family at the beach or at concerts and I am loving orzo corn salads and edamame and farmer’s market fresh fruit…..simple and in season with little utensils needed!!!

    I would love to win a soda stream crystal machine starter kit!!

    thanks for the chance to win!!!

  50. michelle says:

    I tweeted this giveaway and am following @SodaStreamUSA and @FoodforMyFamily on twitter!

    thanks for the chance to win!

  51. Meredith says:

    I did my duty and followed both on Twitter and retweeted the contest!

  52. I love hosting pot lucks. It’s easy on me and it makes everyone feel like they’re part of it. I find when I host and do everything myself, people are often intimidated and uncomfortable to reciprocate because its overwhelming to them.

  53. I ‘liked’ you and soda stream on facebook!
    I’ve always wanted to host a potluck since i LOVE to entertain but footing the entire bill can be expensive sometimes. I will definitely need to put some of your tips into practice! and i’m DYING for a soda stream to reduce the cost of my flavored waters habit πŸ™‚

  54. oops–when I submitted my comment above i didn’t realize I could do separate entries…so count my first one as ‘liking’ you on facebook, and this one for ‘liking’ soda stream please πŸ™‚

  55. Meredith says:

    Thanks for pointing me toward Facebook… I am now a friend as instructed.

  56. My family is big on the potlucks. I typically bring some sort of dessert. Lately everyone has wanted me to bring chocolate chip cookie dough truffles. They’re delicious and fairly easy.

  57. I’m following on Twitter and I tweeted:!/nafyboocs/status/98475871106646016

  58. The last time I entertained was last Saturday – had a last minute dinner at my house with family.

  59. I Like the Food for My Family community on Facebook

  60. I Like the SodaStream community on Facebook.

  61. Carolyn Gates says:

    Would love to win this soda stream, I think at family functions everyone would love it.

  62. Carolyn Gates says:

    Following both on twitter and tweeting!/CarolynK75/status/98477454284435456

  63. I love the glass bottles – how elegant would those be on a table? Sigh…I’ll settle for my pitcher for now…

  64. Carolyn Gates says:

    Liked your facebook page

    Carolyn White Gates

  65. Carolyn Gates says:

    Liked Soda Stream on facebook

    Carolyn White Gates

  66. I have a birthday party to plan and that will be my next entertaining opportunity. Love the homemade soda idea.

  67. I like Food for my Family on Facebook.

  68. Meredith says:

    I am now a brand spankin new SodaStream friend on Facebook!

  69. I have long been a follower of @sodastreamusa and just followed you! I sent my tweet!

  70. My favorite dish to bring to a potluck is spinach strawberry salad during the summer/spring. In fall/winter, I bring homemade bread, with home churned butter to wow the crowds!

  71. Cindy B. says:

    My favorite dish to bring to a potluck is green bean casserole.

  72. Cindy B. says:

    I follow @FoodforMyFamily and @SodaStreamUSA on Twitter and tweeted.

  73. Cindy B. says:

    I fan Food for My Family community on Facebook.

  74. MichelleH says:

    The soda maker would be great for parties AND when my kids just have friends over. I would love to give them ‘soda’, but not all the chemicals and junk. I think it would be fun to play with.

  75. Cindy B. says:

    I fan SodaStream community on Facebook

  76. a friend of ours throws monthly potlucks, and they are always so fun, i’ve brought Spanish rice, cupcakes, hummus and chips, home made rolls, and a bunch of other things too.

  77. i like soda stream on FB
    (Abigail L)

  78. What a wonderful giveaway. I love soda water! And I love your new site design also : )

  79. I’d love to try this product! And I absolutely LOVE to cook for parties! Unfortunately I don’t have a Facebook so I can’t “Like” either:(

  80. That soda machine looks great, I’d make ginger ale with it!

  81. Tweeted it!

  82. Already like you on FB!

  83. I’d love to play around with my own flavored sodas and make ice cream floats!

  84. FOllowed you both and tweeted!

  85. I joined the Food for My Family community on Facebook.

  86. I liked the SOda Stream FB page!

  87. I hostessed a red/white/blue theme birthday party for my mom’s birthday and I made a 13 layer hidden flag cake for my sil’s birthday.

  88. mmmm. soda on a hot day πŸ˜€

  89. I have never entertained, but I always think think it would be really fun to do. When I strike up the courage, I’ll have to check out this wrap up again!

  90. I just ‘liked’ Food For My Family on Facebook πŸ™‚

  91. I usually bring guacamole (using Chipotle’s recipe) when I go to a party!

  92. Great giveaway! I usually bring desserts to a potluck πŸ™‚ Yeah, I have a huge sweet tooth! Haha!

  93. Liked your Facebook page πŸ™‚

  94. Like SodaStream’s Facebook page πŸ™‚

  95. I must have a SodaStream. I have resorted to drinking seltzer water because I love the carbonation, but hate the artifical sweeteners….and can’t afford the calories of regular soda. This is by far the best invention ever! Thanks for the giveaway.

  96. This looks so cool and economical!

  97. Thanks for the giveaway!I would love to make my own soda.

  98. We had my girlfriend and her kids over this past weekend and the ice cream at the end of the night was the biggest hit!!

  99. Elizabeth says:

    I love entertaining and making finger foods/ small bites! And I have been wanting a soda stream!

  100. Virginia says:

    Just gave a great 60th birthday dinner. The menu was light, refreshing and fun!

  101. Entertain weekly!

  102. My husband’s 17 year old nephew has been staying with us for the past month. So have been “entertaining” him so to speak! Made a red velvet cake for dessert yesterday. For dinner a salmon with pistachio basil butter and tomato basil bread pudding -delicious!

  103. I joined the food for my family on facebook – have been on it for awhile

  104. Ok I joined the soda stream community – would love to make home made sodas at home!

  105. and for my last comment I don’t tweet..will that disqualify me from winning? Hopefully not…Let me know! I’d probably be willing to learn how. πŸ™‚ appreciatively!! Gretchen

  106. I love to entertain but all my friends seem to live far away πŸ™ when we do get together it’s a blast though!

  107. My favorite thing to bring to a potluck is homemade jams

  108. I joined the Food for my Family community on facebook

  109. I joined the Sodastream community on facebook

  110. I love to take a dessert to a potluck! Everyone loves a little something sweet, right?

  111. I love to take the classic green bean casserole.

  112. I haven’t entertained in a very long time. But, we just moved to a bigger place, and I’ll probably have some friends over soon. The sodastream would be great to have. I always buy cases of soda and bottled fizzy water, and storing it takes up a lot of space.

  113. Great post since I will be entertaining a lot this fall. It’s always fun looking for new recipes to make that family and friends will like

  114. I found you from a tweet by Soda Stream. Happy to have found your website and have joined you on FB

  115. I am following you on Twitter & will tweet out the giveaway.

  116. I am following Soda Stream on Twitter

  117. I am following Soda Stream on FB.

  118. Just hosted a party, did taco night with many different taco toppings and great southwestern sides.

  119. I am hosting a “Book Baby” shower on Saturday – all foods based on “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Cute, huh?

  120. cucumber slices in a pitcher of ice water — my new favorite little summer touch to offer guests

  121. am following you and soda stream on twitter

  122. Joined F4F facebook community

  123. Lisa Sloan says:

    We have potluck once a month at church. I like to bring beer batter bread and swedish meatballs.

  124. Michelle S says:

    I last entertained a few months ago. I love to try new meals and dishes when I entertain.
    Sticemichelle at aol dot com

  125. Jessica dobbs says:

    I love entertaining, especially huge family dinners

  126. Michelle S says:

    I follow you and sodastream on twitter & tweeted!/Sticemichelle/status/99605891342536706

  127. Michelle S says:

    I like you on facebook

  128. Michelle S says:

    I like Sodastream on facebook

  129. Just got home from having dinner at my parents’ house and even in 80-something degree weather – my mom’s pho still hits the spot!

  130. i tweeted @littlepod

  131. and i like you on FB (can’t believe i hadn’t already done that!)

  132. Jennifer M says:

    Followed you on twitter!

  133. Jennifer M says:

    Followed you on FB TOO!

  134. Jennifer M says:

    Love to read you on Google Reader!

  135. I love having friends over and sharing food and drink. Adding flavored soda to it would be amazing. My sister-in-law has one of these and she is always raving about them. I would love to own one!

  136. I like soda stream on facebook

  137. I like you on facebook

  138. I love to bring a jicama salad to potlucks in the summer- it tastes great and it’s such a conversation starter since so many people have no idea what it is!

  139. I like to try new recipes when we get together with family and friends. A SodaStream would be fun to have when entertaining at the house.

  140. Jeanine Lesperance says:

    this looks like so much fun!

  141. i tweeted and liked both pages on facebook to enter to win the SodaStream Crystal Starter Set!!

  142. i would love to make my own carbonated drinks!

  143. Cheryl Lang says:

    My family loves fresh fruits and vegetables the best. I always had a garden and apple tree, grapes and raspberries growing

  144. lynn botos says:

    i am one to fix the desert, sarah lee cake with cream cheese icing and strawberrys seem to be what every one wants this year!

  145. lynn botos says:

    i follow foodformyfamily on twitter as botos45042

  146. lynn botos says:

    i follow sodastream on twitter as botos45042

  147. lynn botos says:

    i tweeted on twitter @botos45042

  148. lynn botos says:

    i like you on facebook

  149. lynn botos says:

    aaf of sodastreem on fb

  150. My favorite thing to bring to a party is salad – that way I know there will be at least 1 thing healthy to eat!

  151. Twitter Follower @SpendLessMakeMo and Tweeted:!/spendlessmakemo/status/100346922455404544

  152. Like “Food For My family” on Facebook: Spend Less & Make Money

  153. Like β€œSodaStream” on Facebook: Spend Less & Make Money

  154. we had a big 4th of July picnic and my favorite food to bring is “Cheesy potatoes” and usually baked goods

  155. Heidi W. says:

    We just had my brother and family over and this would have been a huge hit!

  156. like food for my family on FB (carole c)

  157. like soda stream on FB (carole c)

  158. follow soda stream on twitter and tweeted about the giveaway


  159. follow food for my family and tweeted about the giveaway


  160. just stumbled on your blog. love reading all the recipes you have!

  161. just joined food for my family on facebook!

  162. just joined the soda stream community on facebook!

  163. My favorite item to bring is my famous spinach artichoke dip. Easy and quick to make, and everyone loves it!

  164. Monique Bon says:

    I always make a huge fruit salad, and it’s always devoured. I use watermelon, canteloupe, honeydew, strawberries, pineapple, kiwi, sometimes blueberries

  165. Monique Bon says:

    I followed FoofForMyFamily & SodaStreamUSA on Twitter

    & I tweeted the following

    Twitter: Monique Bon

  166. Monique Bon says:

    I joined Food For My Family Community on Facebook

    Facebook: Monique Bon

  167. Monique Bon says:

    I joined SodaStream Community on Facebook (:

    Facebook: Monique Bon

  168. I love to bring “ensaladilla rusa” – a traditional Spanish potato salad. It’s always a big hit!! And I love making it……something I learned from my grandma!

  169. Hi! Sooo excited about this giveaway! I’ve seen these at the store and would LOVE one!
    I’m follwing @FoodforMyFamily and @SodaStreamUSA.

    And happily tweeted:
    Win a @SodaStreamUSA Crystal Machine from @FoodforMyFamily #giveaway

  170. Hello again! I’ve joined the “Food for My Family” community on fb!!

  171. ….and the 4th simple step completed…..joined the SodaStream community on fb!

    Thanks πŸ™‚

  172. My favorite thing to bring to a party is a pasta salad

  173. I always take Halushki to picnics, parties, etc.

  174. I have joined the Food For My Family page on Facebook.

  175. I liked SodaStream on Facebook

  176. I love taking strawberry spinach salad to pot licks, so yummy

  177. My new favorite food is spicy, creamy mac and cheese.

  178. I just want to thank you all for everything you had to say!
    Thanks to all of you I’m not going to waste my money.. I’m truly sorry you all did!

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