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:
- Real Food (whole ingredients, homemade, not processed)
- Not Too Expensive (is it tacky to say “cheap”?)
- Quick and Easy (often mutually exclusive with nos. 1 & 2, so this one is regularly compromised)
- Simple to Pack and Pass
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.
Here are some of my favorites:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
- Banana Flax Muffins
- Apple Squares (above left, freezes amazingly well – the kind of thing you make just so you can have an emergency “I need to bring something to share” box available at all times)
- Healthy Pumpkin Muffins (above right)
- Homemade yogurt with homemade granola
- And I actually brought the Black Bean Brownies from The Everything Beans Book last year for breakfast…
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 – 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.
Be sure to visit the rest of the Eat Well, Spend Less ladies for their holiday frugality ideas!
- Simple Bites
- Life as MOM
- Food for my Family
- Tammy’s Recipes
- Life…Your Way
- Denver Bargains
- Kingdom First Mom
- Good Life Eats
If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.
Disclosure: Mary Ann’s Beans is a sponsor receiving their complementary mention. I am not paid for my opinions…my tastebuds cannot be bought. I also work with GNOWFGLINS eCourses and will receive a percentage of sales made starting here. See my full disclosure statement here.