Author Topic: Inexpensive Party Food?  (Read 10843 times)

lifejoy

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Inexpensive Party Food?
« on: September 08, 2013, 03:14:38 PM »
I'm hosting a small house warming party (we just moved to a smaller, more affordable place in a cooler part of town!).

I'm trying to think of snacks and desserts I can offer that won't break the bank. I'm on a pretty tight food budget.

This is what I've come up with so far:

Veges and dip
Carrots and homemade hummus
Kettle Corn
Homemade pizza (on flatbread, with sparing amounts of cheese and basil)

I'd love to hear your ideas! I don't want the party to seem cheap, but I can't afford extravagent. And before someone awesome mentions potluck, I have a feeling that might happen organically but I didn't want to push it, as most of my parties are potlucks and I'd like to do something nice for close friends :)

djulian529

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2013, 03:18:06 PM »
Recently cake mixes have been cheap in Shoprite.....last week I made a cake, icing and all for about $3.


DocCyane

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2013, 03:26:54 PM »
A potluck where everyone brings something is always in style if the point is just to share and spend time. Unfortunately so few people cook anymore that you may need to specify who is bringing what or risk a table with 12 bags of nacho chips and grocery store salsa.

brewer12345

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2013, 03:43:40 PM »
Home made nachos?

Olive platter?

footenote

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2013, 03:50:19 PM »
You can make homemade refried beans for machos super cheap from dried pintos. Basically soak, cook, drain and mash.

brewer12345

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2013, 04:26:42 PM »
You can make homemade refried beans for machos super cheap from dried pintos. Basically soak, cook, drain and mash.

This is a staple for us.  I do not bother to soak, I just toss a chopped onion and 3 or 4 cloves of chopped garlic with a pound of beans into a crock pot, fill with water and leave it on high until they are done.  Add salt.  When you are ready to refry, just take a big skillet, pour off all but a cup of two of the bean liquid, dump it in the skillet, and over medium heat mash 'em with a spatula.  Adjust salt to taste.  I buy pintos in 50 pound sacks and they work great as refries for quesadillas, nachos, burritos, etc.  Taco night is a big thing in our house, and my picky vegetarian 9 year old practically lives on refried pintos.

2527

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2013, 04:49:12 PM »
I like to put two olives and a small square of cheese on toothpicks.  Don't know how inexpensive it is, but people seem to like it. 

Box wine. 

avonlea

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2013, 05:54:38 PM »
I like to make homemade gyoza (potstickers).  I prefer ground pork for the filling, but I am sure there are vegetarian alternatives. (Are you a vegetarian?  I noticed that your original list had only meatless items.)



Gerard

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2013, 06:03:56 PM »
If meat's an option, people seem to enjoy little meatballs on a toothpick (bake 'em... faster than frying).
If you can get an in-season deal on them, grape tomatoes, or grapes, just loose on a plate, maybe with toothpicks nearby.
Or roast vegetables: bite size pieces of zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and maybe (drained) tomato pieces, all of which are in season many places. Whiz a few cloves of garlic with some oil, salt, and pepper, plus either basil or a couple of reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes, and stir the veg around in it. Roast in a single layer on pizza trays or cookie sheets until not-crunchy (ideally hot and fast, maybe in the oven with the pizza). Good either warm or room-temp. (If you do the sun-dried tomato marinade, try adding some corn on the cob cut into about one-inch lengths. A little messy to eat, but they'll-talk-about-it-afterward good!)
None of us seem to have a good dessert idea for you. But I've had good fun at parties by buying a huge watermelon and just hacking it into chunks for people.

bogart

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2013, 07:46:36 PM »
Devilled eggs are my favorite cheap go-to for potlucks, and they are always received as if I'd been up 2 days baking them (um, no).

Sliced/small fruit (e.g. grapes) plus a blend of roughly 2/3 sour cream to 1/3 honey (to taste) as a dip are very tasty.  Beware sliced apples and stuff that turns brown, but pretty easy to do (grapes, strawberries...).

Brownies.  From a boxed mix.  I've never had complaints, or leftovers.


kkbmustang

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2013, 08:11:03 PM »
-Tortilla chips and salsa
-Fresh fruit (whatever is on sale for a low, low price per pound - One large watermelon, cut into chunks, would serve a lot of people)
-If you have a costco nearby, you can get a big bag of frozen meatballs and put them in a crockpot and pour a jar of BBQ sauce over them. Also works with those mini-sausages. Not healthy, but they are inexpensive and taste good.
-A block of cream cheese with pepper jelly on top, served with crackers.
-Baked Brie (it sounds expensive, but doesn't have to be)

Directions for baked brie:
Thaw a package of frozen phyllo dough. Lay down a sheet of dough on a cookie sheet. Brush with melted butter. Repeat for about 8-10 layers of the dough. Place a small brie round in the center of the buttered phyllo dough. Put any kind of jam you want on top of the round (marmalade, berry, mango chutney, etc.) Fold over the dough until it has covered the brie and jam, kind of like a present. Brush the outside with melted butter. Bake at 450 degrees for about 15-20 minutes (or however long the package on the phyllo dough says to bake it). You might want to cover it with foil for the first half, then take the foil off for the last half, otherwise the top with get too dark.

Serve with crackers. Delicious.

ioseftavi

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2013, 08:23:42 PM »
Folks, I just want to sound off and say that by far the most delicious thing you can make on a deliciousness / fillingness-per-dollar scale has got to be pulled pork. 

If you're willing to make both the pulled pork and the rolls from scratch, you can comfortably feed about a dozen people for $10.  I don't mean appetizers - I mean 1/3rd of a pound sandwich on a delicious homemade roll.  If you want to make it appetizer like, just cook up the pulled pork and then put it on crackers or in some other form. 

A pork shoulder should cost you about a buck per pound, maybe less, and about 20-30% of the weight will be lost when you de-bone it (after cooking) and fat/waters that renders and evaporates away.  You're still left with incredibly delicious food at a cost of perhaps $1.30 per pound, or about $0.40 per third of a pound serving.

Hope this helps!

EDIT:  This also pairs well with a side dish of mac-and-cheese.  Mac and cheese from a box (I like Annie's) isn't too bad as far as cost, and you can make two boxes of it for probably $2 or so.  So now you're looking at a food cost of less than $15 and you've got rolls, pork, and mac and cheese that could comfortably feed 12.  Not a bad start!
« Last Edit: September 08, 2013, 08:47:20 PM by ioseftavi »

kkbmustang

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2013, 08:25:57 PM »
Folks, I just want to sound off and say that by far the most delicious thing you can make on a deliciousness / fillingness-per-dollar scale has got to be pulled pork. 

If you're willing to make both the pulled pork and the rolls from scratch, you can comfortably feed about a dozen people for $10.  I don't mean appetizers - I mean 1/3rd of a pound sandwich on a delicious homemade roll.  If you want to make it appetizer like, just cook up the pulled pork and then put it on crackers or in some other form. 

A pork shoulder should cost you about a buck per pound, maybe less, and about 20-30% of the weight will be lost when you de-bone it (after cooking) and fat/waters that renders and evaporates away.  You're still left with incredibly delicious food at a cost of perhaps $1.30 per pound, or about $0.40 per third of a pound serving.

Hope this helps!

That sounds awesome.

cbear

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2013, 08:43:11 PM »
Last night I made stuffed peppers with goat cheese topped with panko breadcrumbs.

I grew the peppers, but a bag of them would be cheap at the store.  The log of goat cheese I bought at BJs (costco equivalent). It was stupidly easy and the boyfriend wolfed them all down. 

apennysaved

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2013, 09:10:32 PM »
I have been making cupcakes for a lot of gatherings.  A box of cake mix will make 24 cupcakes @$2, but I have seen smaller mixes that make 12 cupcakes @$1.  My favorite homemade icing is Wilton's buttercream-you can google the recipe which uses about 4 or 5 ingredients.  You can refrigerate any extra for 2 weeks or freeze it (I normally freeze it).

Another easy sweet is chocolate covered pretzels.  I recently used candy melts (chocolate or vanilla flavored) which come in a variety of colors. I used pretzel rods, dipped in the chocolate, and then rolled in sprinkles.  You let them cool on wax or freezer paper.  I watched a YouTube video, but they are very easy.

You make also want to check out the website: www.budgetbytes.com.  The blogger breaks down everything into a price per serving which I have found very helpful.

Dee 72013

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2013, 09:28:27 PM »
Tortilla pinwheels, many different ways to make and very few ingredients.
ham, cream cheese, green onion and tortilla shells is the simplest one but look up more recipes online for a variety.

desk_jockey

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2013, 10:17:08 PM »
Homemade guacamole and homemade hummus.  Both are easy to do.  I'll let you choose the cost effective substrate.

lifejoy

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2013, 11:03:16 PM »
Yay! Such great ideas! Thanks so much :) Definitely going to use these!

A vegetarian will be in attendance, and as much as possible I try to make food that will make everyone feel included.

Definitely making cupcakes from a box!! Easy, quick, cheap, and everybody looooves cupcakes!!

N

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2013, 11:04:00 PM »
I personally wouldnt do pizza, because its tricky to keep it hot and it makes the whole house hot to cook it. Im a fan of do ahead stuff.

anything in the crockpot is awesome. I second the pulled pork w bbq or meatballs idea. or a bean/corn chili? with cornbread muffins?


this post was interesting for a party-her focus is zerowaste, not necessarily least expensive, but some ideas for sure:

http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/2013/05/party-time-zero-waste-style.html

there are lots of quick refrigerator pickles that are tasty for a relish tray-pickled carrots, zucchini, cauliflour. (you dont have to can them just sometimes blanch the veg and put them in a container and pour the hot seasoned brine over them, let them sit in the fridge for a  few days to develop)

homemade crackers.

candied nuts or spiced nuts that you do yourself

flavored popcorns are fun. I just made "dorito" popcorn (more taco-y than dorito, but it was good and everyone liked it) and i have done a cinnamony one before, too.

http://wholenewmom.com/recipes/dorito-flavored-popcorn-dairy-free/

http://www.thekitchn.com/sweet-fall-snack-maplebutter-s-127766

dweebyhawkeyes

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2013, 11:46:57 PM »
Baked potato/taco bars are what I've done for past parties. Lay out a bunch of topping options. Slow-cooking young jackfruit is an awesome vegetarian barbecue thang if you want to please everyone. :]

CrochetStache

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2013, 03:21:00 AM »
A loaf of fresh baked bread.
Very inexpensive ingredients and super easy no-knead recipe from "Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day"

Recipe step by step instructions available by permission from authors on Instructables: (I make a half recipe at a time)
http://www.instructables.com/id/Artisan-Bread-in-Five-Minutes-a-Day/

homemadelatte

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2013, 07:56:46 AM »
A loaf of fresh baked bread.
Very inexpensive ingredients and super easy no-knead recipe from "Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day"

Recipe step by step instructions available by permission from authors on Instructables: (I make a half recipe at a time)
http://www.instructables.com/id/Artisan-Bread-in-Five-Minutes-a-Day/

Simple is always best. Your ideas of homemade hummus and kettle corn are perfect. Low cost, but great taste, and things people don't often make themselves so they will be super impressed :)

I second the fresh baked bread! No-knead bread is delicious and pairs well with oil & balsamic, or tapenade, cheese etc. I make mine in a cast-iron pan and it gets beautifully crispy on the bottom and sides and stays soft inside. My mustachian dad makes a loaf every day and never buys bread anymore!

Roasting your own almonds or other nuts with some spices or sugar is always a hit, and fairly inexpensive.

Caramelized onions and roasted garlic are such a delicious flavours. We make a dip with one caramelized onion (saute until golden and sweet), and one head of roasted garlic (cut the top off, drizzle with oil and roast in the oven for about 30-45 min), squeeze the cooked garlic heads out, and put in the food processor with about 3/4 cup sour cream, a drizzle of honey and salt and pepper. It's amazing with ripple chips!

SunshineGirl

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #22 on: September 09, 2013, 10:36:32 AM »
Wow, I love that Budget Bytes site!

Recently for gatherings, we've bought a tub of chocolate chip cookie dough and made a jumbo cookie (use half the tub in a pie pan, bake for 18 minutes at 375), and served vanilla ice cream over it. Everyone gets a spoon and digs in - people love it!

rockstache

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #23 on: September 09, 2013, 12:17:58 PM »
Budgetbytes is soooo awesome. My husband and I have made so many recipes on that site, and although we occasionally tweak them the second time around...they are always good the first time too.

galliver

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2013, 12:57:52 PM »
Growing up, "party food" usually involved a couple big bowls of salad. Some were classic (e.g. variations on potato salad), others my mom's specialty (people asked me for the recipe whenever I visited later without my parents!): mushrooms sauteed with onions and carrots dressed in mayo; kidney beans with garlic and fresh parsley. Various fresh and pickled veggies were also a staple.

These days I'm often the "veggie bringer" at parties and potlucks. Gives me something to divert my mindless nibbling to from chips. A few weeks ago I picked up a pound of sugar snap peas for like $5 and a small bottle of ranch for $1. Huge hit at what was mostly a drinking-party. Baby carrots would have been cheaper, but everyone is tired of those...

Lans Holman

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2013, 01:25:21 PM »
Not sure if it's right for this event, but an awesome party I went to a while back was a make-your-own english muffin pizza bar.  Hosts provided the english muffins, cheese and tomato sauce, guests brought various toppings to share.  People took turns making up their own according to whatever they wanted on it, then they would just throw a tray of them in for a couple minutes.  Super social and fun, everyone gets fed, pretty cheap, no work at all except for whoever is supervising putting them in the oven and taking them out before they burn.

fidgiegirl

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #26 on: September 09, 2013, 04:21:16 PM »
I love the taco bar thing too when it's groups.  Everyone can do things up the way they like them.

I think you'd only need one kind of veggie tray - EITHER the hummus OR the dip.  Assuming you're going to cut up the veggies yourself?  Otherwise those are pricey.

JoshuaSpodek

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #27 on: September 09, 2013, 04:54:27 PM »
Stone soup!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_soup
http://www.extremelinux.info/stonesoup/stonesoup.html

(Not really, but it's a cool story if you don't already know it)

N

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #28 on: September 09, 2013, 08:43:22 PM »
I forgot rice crispie treats! generic crisps and marshmellows work in the recipes just as well as name brands.

mm1970

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #29 on: September 09, 2013, 09:36:30 PM »
You can make homemade refried beans for machos super cheap from dried pintos. Basically soak, cook, drain and mash.

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/08/29/recipe-easy-slow-cooker-refried-beans/

I make these a lot.  Easy and delish.

Also, bruschetta - if you can get tomatoes cheap and in season.  Homemade bread.

Roses

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Re: Inexpensive Party Food?
« Reply #30 on: September 10, 2013, 02:31:17 AM »
Tea sandwiches.  Lots of delicious and easy/cheap fillings.

Or a big pot of chili with a pan of cornbread.  Can be vegetarian.

+1 to the taco bar idea above.