Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Eat Well, Spend Less: Cheap and Easy Party Foods

December 15th, 2011 · 9 Comments · Frugality, Recipes

cheap and easy party food ideas

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:

Appetizers

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.

I just discovered a new company (Mary Ann’s Beans, a December KS sponsor) who sells dip mixes with no salt, sugar, or MSGs, “homemade” in someone else’s kitchen, basically.

I mixed up one of her Jalapeno Ranch Dips last week. It was a super no. 3 from above (so easy! Mix with sour cream and done!) and really, really no. 5.

I found it so refreshing to be able to use a purchased mix and not worry about real food quality. I actually thought as I was stirring, “So this is what normal people do when they “make” dip. Ha!” The only caveat is that I wouldn’t actually take it to a party, unless I knew folks could handle super spicy. The whole “jalapeno” part in the title is true – it’s mouth-tingling good, like, “Oooo, that’s too spicy! Lemme have some more…” I like it with carrots; positively addicting without the MSG most packages rely on! Love it! (There are non-jalapeno versions, don’t worry.)

I also have a few bean soup mixes from Mary Ann’s, one of which is soaking for tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it is on Facebook and Twitter – for tonight, I’m just so thankful that I can unpack a box or two instead of prepping dinner. It’s been hairy around here with the move!

If you’re looking for unique or clutter-free food gift ideas for Christmas, I’d definitely recommend the cute fabric bags of beans from Mary Ann’s. Use the code KS12 for 10% off your order this month. You could even package it with a CD of The Everything Beans Book and a few bags of dry beans to get your lucky recipient on their way to healthy food, either fast…or slow. Winking smile

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 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 3 sm

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…

Brunch

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

image

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.

Christmas salad - smaller

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!

spelt salad GR Press

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 (2) small

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

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

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Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: Mary Ann’s Beans is a sponsor receiving their complementary mention. I am not paid for my opinions…my tastebuds cannot be bought. Winking smile I also work with GNOWFGLINS eCourses and will receive a percentage of sales made starting here. See my full disclosure statement here.

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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