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RISMEDIA, February 27, 2010—According to a recent survey released by Whole Foods Market, 68% of adults say the economy has affected their cooking and eating habits. More than 50% of consumers say they are eating dinner at home more often to save money. But cutting costs on dining out doesn’t mean giving up on the joys of great company and delicious foods.

The changing economy has many Americans bringing their love of food back into the comfort of their own kitchens. And with a wealth of supermarket coupons and in-store specials available, entertaining at home is easier than ever and more affordable. So even if a fancy meal out with friends isn’t in your budget, you can still enjoy spending quality time together over a delicious meal.

Here are a few budget-friendly tips to make the most out of dining in:

Prepare Foods that Stretch. It’s important to make every dollar count. Soups, pastas and casseroles are not only easy to make, but they’re an economical way to feed a large group. Not sure what to make? Many food websites offer a “budget friendly” category for inspiration.

Make it a Game Night. Invite guests to bring over a few of their favorite games. Pair up into teams and rediscover the joy of a little friendly competition. Whether you’re the reigning card champion or experiencing the latest gaming phenomenon for the first time, you’re sure to enjoy an evening filled with fun and laughter.

Host a Potluck. Forget buying expensive groceries and spending hours in the kitchen. Encourage guests to bring a dish of their own for a tasty potluck. From homemade pasta salads to delicious breads and indulgent desserts, you’ll have a variety of taste-tempting foods that will be the talk of the party. Plus, everyone loves to help out the hostess.

Chocolate Soufflés Made Easy. Cap off the evening with this restaurant-style dessert that’s sure to impress. With only seven ingredients and just a few simple steps, these soufflés really deliver on taste and presentation. And the best part? They can be made in advance, allowing you to spend more time with guests.

Make-Ahead Chocolate Soufflés
(Makes 8 servings)

-Nonstick cooking spray
-2 cups (12-ounce package) Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
-1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
-1/4 cup Nestle Toll House Baking Cocoa
-4 large eggs, separated
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1/3 cup granulated sugar
-1 container (14 ounces) Vanilla Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream (optional)

-SPRAY eight 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups with nonstick cooking spray; coat lightly with granulated sugar.
-MICROWAVE morsels, butter and baking cocoa in large, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Stir in egg yolks and vanilla extract.
-BEAT egg whites in large mixer bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/3 cup granulated sugar until stiff peaks form. Stir one-fourth of egg white mixture into chocolate mixture to lighten. Fold in remaining egg white mixture gently but thoroughly. Spoon into prepared ramekins, filling about 3/4 full. Cover soufflés individually with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
-PREHEAT oven to 400° F. Remove plastic wrap from soufflés. Place soufflés on baking sheet. Bake on center oven rack for 18 to 20 minutes or until puffed and center still moves slightly. Top with scoop of ice cream. Serve immediately.
Cook’s Tip: If you wish to prepare batter and bake immediately, reduce bake time by a couple of minutes.

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