A mum-of-three from Essex has revealed how she catered for 50 guests for her nanna's birthday at just £2 per head.

Samantha Watkins, 40, hosted a big bash for beloved grandmother, with a budget of £100 to spend on food.

Speaking to LatestDeals.co.uk she says: "Since an early age, I have always loved cooking and baking. I learned a lot from my Nanna Sylvia.

“I used to go to work with my nan when I was a child. She worked on building sites catering for the workers, and she then went on to own a cafe in the Roman Road Indoor Market in London, where I joined her every Saturday to cook and take orders all at the grand old age of 12 years old. I've done many a catering job for family friends over the years - it's a real passion.”

Samantha, who is mum to Alfie, one, Faye, eight and Katie, 14, decided that she wanted to create something meaningful and homemade for her beloved nanna's birthday.

"My Nanna Sylvia is very special to our family,” she added. “We all adore her, but no one more than me! Myself and my mum Susan decided we would do Nanna a birthday get together with a few family and friends.

“We decided that between my mum and her siblings, instead of going out for a meal out which Nan doesn't really enjoy, we would do something at mum's house and split the bill for the food between mum and her siblings. We decided that £35 to £40 each would cover a good spread of food.

Samantha had a budget of £100 and was determined to stick to it

"I started with my little book that I like to doodle in and started making a plan of action for what food I was going to do. Nanna loves beef curry and rice so that was a must on the list, then I thought that not everyone likes spicy food so I decided to do hot dogs for the children and those who don't eat curry, along with some sides of mini vegetable samosas, spring rolls and naan.

"A friend kindly did some lamb samosas and homemade coleslaw to go along with the curry. My cousin Mike is also well-known in the family for his homemade foot long sausage rolls and homemade scotch eggs.

"I like to make sandwiches fresh with good quality meats so I decided to use chicken breasts for the chicken salad sandwiches and for the ham, I bought a small ham joint and boiled it myself, as it works out cheaper to buy a joint of ham and cook it yourself than to buy packs. You get far more meat from a joint then you would from pre-packed meat and it tastes so much better.”

Samantha and her mum went on a mission to find well-priced food they could cook for the big day.

To keep costs down they went to different stores to ensure they were getting the best items for their money.

"Myself and my mum shopped around in different shops for the items I knew I would find at better value,” Samantha adds. "The plan was three different types of sandwiches, egg mayonnaise, chicken salad and ham, two lots of different hot food and a few sides of picky bits like sausage rolls, mini pizzas, mini cocktail sausages: the typical food people love to see and eat on a buffet.

"I love smoked salmon and beetroot so I decided I'd do a little of what I like and created a mini toast with beetroot cream cheese topped with some smoked salmon and dill.


"A good bright fruit platter and a veggie platter always looks appealing so that was a must to have along with a few naughty mini cakes and chocolate rolls. I think every buffet table should have a centrepiece and that had to be Nan's favourite giant fresh cream and strawberry cake, which we stuck a giant sparkling fountain in when we sang her Happy Birthday."

Samantha’s perfectly planned day was a hit with her grandma and with the whole family, and she was delighted with how it turned out and how much money she had saved hosting the party herself.

The birthday spread looked amazing

"The day went to absolute plan, everyone really enjoyed the food and Nan really had a wonderful day and that is what we set out to achieve,” Samantha said.

"We were going to take Nan originally to the Ned Hotel in London for a two hour buffet priced at £50 a head - we saved hundreds doing it ourselves and had no time limit.

"My mission was complete and it was all achieved for a grand total of just £100!

"My top tip is to plan ahead and look online for ideas - Pinterest is a fantastic site for ideas. Make a list of all the food you're going to do, then make a shopping list and stick to it.

"Another tip when displaying food is that it needs to look inviting to the eye. To do this, I make sure I dress the sandwiches with some salad. When I do a fruit platter I make sure I buy different colour fruits to make it look bright and use the head of the pineapple to make a display - it would only go in the bin so it may as well be used.

"Dress all the beige foods like sausage rolls, mini spring rolls and bits with salad to make it look more colourful to the eye."

Tom Church, co-founder of  LatestDeals.co.uk, says: “Samantha’s dedication to her nan - and her excellent party planning, of course - is to be admired. Sylvia’s birthday party looked like an amazing day and the fact Samantha managed to make so much food on a tight budget is amazing.

"I’ll think twice before booking a birthday evening out next time - as Samantha says, if you do it yourself, you’ll save money and have no time limit too."