Eat Well, Spend Less: Cheap and Easy Party Foods

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Cheap and Easy Party Foods

It’s so important to have a “go to” list for easy party foods, those items I can make quickly and without much thought when I have to bring a dish to pass.

When I bring food to a party, it must follow some if not all of the following qualifications:

  1. Real Food (whole ingredients, homemade, not processed)
  2. Not Too Expensive (is it tacky to say “cheap”?)
  3. Quick and Easy (often mutually exclusive with nos. 1 & 2, so this one is regularly compromised)
  4. Simple to Pack and Pass
  5. Delicious!

Keeping these easy party food rules loosely in mind helps me to Eat Well, Spend Less when I’m sharing food or hosting a party, and that makes everyone happy.

cheap and easy party food

Here are some of my favorites:


spicy cheesy chicken chip dip whole foods appetizer

Spicy Cheesy Chicken Chip Dip – This is the one that the family has been asking me to bring to big gatherings lately, and it makes a big batch, which we heartily enjoy as leftovers! Use it with tortilla chips or these homemade whole wheat crackers.

deviled eggs - easy party food

Easy Deviled Eggs – my ultimate favorite: cheap, easy, and recognizable as real food, no matter who you are! Click on the post to see how I include my kids as young as 3 and 4 in this process.

tangy avocado dip with carrots

Veggies and Homemade Dip – I like the Garlic Yogurt Cheese Dip from Healthy Snacks to Go; definitely an easy party food. I never buy store dip, because they always include soybean oil (why that’s yucky). The one shown above is an avocado dip; the recipe can be found in the  GNOWFGLINS eCourse thank you video list (EDIT) and has also been posted on ks now: Healthy Probiotic Avocado Dip.

simple party foods

Fresh Baked Rolls– I use the breadmaker – almost as easy as purchasing and reheating! Always serve with real butter or a homemade spread. I’ve done Herbed Farmer’s Cheese in the past; video tutorial (with my kids helping, so cute) available as a thank you video at the GNOWFGLINS eCourse.

Sweet Potato Garlic Dip

Sweet Potato Garlic Dip with Homemade Crackers or veggies – For fall and early winter, grabbing in-season sweet potatoes and using garlic to fight the sick bugs is a great idea all around.


Famous Mexi-Chip Dip from The Everything Beans Book – this is an often requested appetizer at family functions, and my family can eat half a tray of it easily ourselves! I have a new spicy cheesy chicken dip coming in the next book, Better Than a Box. It’s a reverse engineered version of a recipe with processed ingredients, and I was told after Thanksgiving that I had to bring it to the family Christmas party, too. It’s that good. Just to tease you…


My Bible Study ladies have a few brunches each year, and I like to bring dishes such as…

Salads and Sides

Because of portability issues, I prefer to bring cold side dishes whenever possible, and grains and potatoes fall squarely into the “inexpensive” foods category. I don’t really make pasta salad anymore, sadly, but if you do, the versions below are absolutely delicious.

Festive Holiday Greek Salad

Festive Holiday Greek Salad – the colors here and sophisticated flavors make this simple, nourishing salad ideal for a Christmas dinner. I just realized I didn’t volunteer to bring anything for Sunday’s gathering…hmmmm, perhaps I’ll do this one again!



Cooked Spelt Salad – for the adventuresome family members, here’s a perfect alternative to pasta salad that includes lots of veggies and a yummy balsamic vinaigrette dressing.


Potato Salad – I bring this every year to the big Christmas dinner; it’s my favorite dish to keep if I have leftovers, too, so I make a BIG bowl!

Pasta Salad Variations: Traditional, Pizza, Spicy Red Pepper and Greek – no photo since I haven’t made pasta salad in ages. But truly – yummy. Winking smile

cheap and easy party food ideas

Be sure to visit the rest of the Eat Well, Spend Less ladies for their holiday frugality ideas!

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9 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    i usually bring something made with what we already have on hand, which seems to save money even if it may be something pricier if i went out and bought it all on the fly. tonight we have a christmas party and i am bringing a salad made with our csa veggies (red leaf lettuce, pomegranate, pear, with feta and a homemade balsamic dressing on top) and a persimmon spice cake. it helps me to take a look at what we have on hand and then be creative with my ideas from there. otherwise, i find myself sometimes making rather pricey grocery runs just to make one or two dishes for a party.

    my recent post: how to deal with money with faith instead of fear

  2. Carolyn says

    I’m going to a breakfast brunch on Saturday and using my bread machine to make “good for you” Honey Cinnamon bread. A favorite of my husbands.

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