I love hosting parties and gathering my friends and family together to celebrate a special occasion or just to hang out. It’s fun to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a while and to provide my kids with an opportunity to play with some friends, as well.
While providing catered food for your guests can be very impressive, it can also be very expensive. I’m pretty conscious of my budget all the time, but especially when hosting guests. Over the years, I’ve come up with an arsenal of party food ideas to fill my guests’ bellies without draining my bank account.
Cheap Party Food Ideas
As you consider your party, you’ll need to think not only about who the guests will be, but also where it will be held as well as what time of day you’d like to host. Here are some cheap party food ideas to consider as you plan the big event.
Breakfast or Brunch Ideas
If you have some wiggle room in terms of when you can throw your party, aim for mid to late morning if you can. Why? Because breakfast and brunch foods are cheap! Eggs, sausage, and baked goods are generally much cheaper to purchase and prepare than meals that happen later in the day. (Of course, you can always serve breakfast for dinner, right?) Some easy and cheap breakfast/brunch items include:
1. Waffle Bar or Pancake Bar
You’ll see the “bar” or “build your own” language come up a lot in this list. That’s because the easiest way to feed a crowd is to let them assemble the meal themselves! In addition, by providing your guests with a variety of ingredients, you’ll allow them to choose what they’d like based on personal preference, allergies, etc.
A waffle bar or pancake bar is pretty easy to put together: just make a huge batch of waffles or pancakes and set out toppings like strawberries, blueberries, sliced bananas, chocolate chips, whipped cream, butter, and a variety of syrups.
It’s incredibly easy to make your own berry syrup: just mix berries, sugar to taste, and water over low heat until the sugar is dissolved, then crank up the heat a little and stir until the syrup thickens.
Here’s a freezer-friendly waffle recipe you can use to make your waffles ahead of time, then just pop them in the toaster when it’s time to eat: The Best Freezer Waffle Recipe Ever
2. Yogurt Parfait Bar
Yogurt isn’t always the cheapest, but if you stock up when it’s on sale and make sure you buy the big containers, you should do all right. Provide a few different flavor options – plain, vanilla, strawberry, blueberry, etc. – and set out granola or granola cereal and berries. Guests can layer their parfaits however they like. Kids especially will love this option!
3. Bagel Bar
Let your guests take bagels to the next level by providing cream cheese (of course), but also extras to go on top of the cream cheese like chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, avocado, berries, nuts, spices, and any other little spreads or goodies you find in your pantry. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative!
Bagels regularly go on sale, and you can also check your local grocery stores or bagel shops to see if they offer any weekly specials on a baker’s dozen or end-of-day/next-day baked goods.