Party food ideas for adults on a budget
Veggies and dip
Aside from it being one of the most inexpensive finger foods you can find, it's also quite healthy. Oh, and did we mention that it's easy to make? No need for Jamie Oliver skills to prepare this dish, because you can do it in three easy steps.
Step one: slice your vegetables in an orderly fashion, preferably lengthwise so you can arrange it easier.
Step two: open a jar of dip – we recommend ranch or garlic dressing because it works well with the vegetables.
Step Three: arrange neatly on a platter – you can do it by shape, size, or colour, whatever works for you. How easy was that?
Budget tip: Remember to get vegetables that are in season. Not only do they cost a lot less because they’re in abundance, but they're also fresher and tastier than off-season veggies.
Estimated cost: $AUD10.99
Baked potato bar
We know what you're thinking: "Potatoes? isn't that a little boring?” But don't you underestimate this humble starch! Potatoes are a cost-effective ingredient with a lot more potential than just french fries or mashed potatoes.
For your next party, why not host a free-for-all, make-it-yourself baked potato bar? It's the perfect way to let your guests have fun while customising their own combos, plus they get to mingle too. And since they're doing the assembling, it's less work for you! 100 points for this well-rounded and cheap party food.
Budget tip: You can go dead cheap or opulent with the toppings. Use canned chilli if you want a heartier meal, sour cream and bacon if you're going for a more traditional and tangy approach, or whatever else you can think of.
Estimated cost: $AUD11.00
The one-pot method is simple – after preparing all your ingredients, throw everything into one pan and cook. It's that easy! One-pot dishes, especially one-pot pastas, are a cheap and easy way to impress your guests. Your guests won’t be wondering how many dollars you’ve spent to make it, or how much time you spent cooking; all they'll be thinking about is how damn good the food is!
Budget tip: One-pot pasta, just like the baked potato bar, is all about the different combinations you could execute. For example, cream, fettuccine, plus broccoli makes for a light and easy alfredo. Olive oil, capers, and tuna makes a great pescetarian dish. Are you looking for something more filling? Add more meat! Just remember to cut meats thinly so it cooks thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients.
Estimated cost: $AUD7.00
Everyone loves burgers! But if you're cooking for an entire party, then serving individual and regular-sized burgers might be a little bit cumbersome and expensive. So if you want to make things a little easier, why not make sliders?
Sliders are basically small-sized burgers. You make it the same way, cook it the same way, and serve it the same way, except it's tiny. But don't let its small size discourage you. Studies show that eating smaller portions can make your brain think that you're eating a lot! So go on and trick your guests into eating more by making them eat less, while you go and fan yourself with the stack of dollars you just saved.
Budget tip: Always serve the sauce on the side. Not only does that prevent the bun from getting soggy, it also saves you a couple of cents because not everyone is going to want sauce anyway.
Estimated cost: $AUD 12.00
If you're starting to think that we forgot about dessert, think again. We present to you one of the most accessible and refreshing desserts out there. Behold: the fruit salad.
Let's talk about the anatomy of the fruit salad – fruits and syrup. And no, we didn't miss anything. You only need these two ingredients to make a killer fruit salad. The good news is, the fruits that you add are entirely up to you. Go crazy by adding an assortment of fruits like kiwis, peaches, apples, or even grapes. When in doubt, remember that you can never go wrong with the classic berry-citrus combo.
And as for the syrup, all it takes is just a little honey or sugar water. The natural sugars of the fruits will be enough of a sweetener for your salad.
Budget tips: Just like the veggie platter, the fruits that you plan on purchasing will always be cheaper (and more delicious) if they're in season.
Estimated cost: $AUD8.00 (if your fruits are in season)
A great party is never complete without cake. Oftentimes, when you buy store-bought cake, you're actually paying for the labour it took to make it. So if you're really pinching pennies but still want to impress your guests, go the extra mile and make your own banana cake.
How? It's simple: you just need three mashed bananas, three cups of flour, two eggs, a teaspoon of baking soda, and half a stick of butter. Sure, the number of ingredients might seem daunting, but the process of making it is actually easy. Just mix everything in a bowl, place the batter in a greased 9x12 pan, and bake at 350F. If you noticed that we didn't add sugar in the list, it’s because the natural sweetness of the banana really comes through when baked. But if you're entertaining a sugar-crazed mob, then feel free to add a cup of brown sugar.
Budget tips: Overripe bananas are the best bananas, so that means you can unremorsefully use the week-old bunch you left in your fridge. Want some icing? Whip some heavy cream and sugar, place it in the chiller and pat yourself on the back for making your own cake topping. Alternatively, store-bought whipped cream works just as good. You just don’t get to pat yourself on the back for spending.
Estimated cost: $AUD4.00
Cheap as chips!
It is very possible to host your own party with a $AUD80-dollar budget! After all, if you tallied the estimated prices above, you will still be left with $AUD27.01, which you can use to splurge on a bottle of moderately expensive wine, or a couple of bottles of really cheap wine.
At the end of the day, throwing a great party and entertaining people doesn't have to break the bank. All you need is some elbow grease, creativity, and of course, good company.