How to Help | Do-Good Dinner Party for Less than $20

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Do Good Collect Donations for Charities - Ladies Home Journal PhotoAre you searching for ideas on how to help people? Here’s a way to help people and animals through charitable organizations that accept donations other than money. The next time you invite a group of friends over for dinner, make it a themed dinner for less than $20 with the easy, healthy chilli recipe below. The theme? A Do-Good Dinner Party. Serve your guests a delicious frugal dinner, enjoy their company, and give back to the communiy with your guests’ donations to a local charity of your choice.

Donations that Help

Before you invite your dinner guests, do your research. Call local charities to discover what type of donations are in greatest need. Some of their donation requests may include:

  • Blankets and towels for women’s shelters or animal shelters.
  • Non-perishable foods for food banks.
  • Baby items for shelters and food banks.
  • Books, games, and toys for shelters or daycare facilities in low-income neighborhoods.
  • Used sports equipment for neighborhood youth programs.
  • Gently used men’s and women’s clothing, ties, scarves, coats, shoes, handbags, and other accessories for disadvantaged who are in the process of getting back into the job force.

The Salvation Army is an organization that can use most of the items listed, or can refer you to other charitable organizations that would benefit from the generosity of you and your friends.

Classic Chilli Recipe for Less than $20

I found The Do-Good Dinner Party (also found online) article in the March, 2012, issue of the Ladies Home Journal among their many “Do Good” articles. The money-saving dinner menu includes Classic Chilli for a Crowd with a variety of topping choices to add to your guests’ enjoyment. Get the recipe below:

For a kick, replace some ground beef with spicy sausage. Using coffee instead of tomato juice gives chili a richer flavor.

Work: 35 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
Serves: 12

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 jalapeños, seeded if desired, finely diced
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup tomato juice or brewed coffee
  • 3 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juices
  • 3 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in an 8-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned, about 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer browned meat to a bowl and discard any juices in the pot.

2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pot with the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, all the spices, and salt and continue to cook until the vegetables are well coated and mixture darkens a bit and becomes fragrant. Stir in tomato juice or coffee, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pot, and then add tomatoes with their juices, beans, browned meat, and 1 1/2 cups water.

3. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the chili has thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the vinegar, and season to taste with salt.

Vegetarian Variation

Just $1.09 per serving! Prepare classic chili, omitting the meat, and sauté 3 diced carrots with the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Cover and cook until carrots are soft, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add 2 15-ounce cans rinsed and drained lentils along with the kidney beans. Add 2 cups thawed frozen corn during the last 5 minutes.


  • Using coupons can help cut the cost of the ingredients, beverages, and desserts.
  • Dining-in is always a better way to save compared to dining out.
  • Make Do-Good Dinner Parties a part of your seasonal or holiday traditions - suggest to your friends they each take a turn. I’m sure the numbe of participants and donations will grow!
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