If you can't spring for beef tenderloin (top), there's no shame in serving a less expensive cut like flatiron steak (above), which can be spice-rubbed and prepared with a tangy marinade to make it more complex and flavorful. If you're watching your budget, steer clear of pricey (read: rare or time-consuming to make) ingredients.
Here, Thomas Preti Caterers in New York cooked the beef tenderloin in a special homemade lavender essence that takes time and skill to produce. Veggies and starches won't affect your bottom line as much as the protein you serve, but to keep prices down, always choose your vegetables based on what's in season.
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