Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Food on a Budget

Sheesh. Trying to plan the menu for Henry's budget birthday party brings me back to the difficulty of trying to plan dinner for 80 of our nearest and dearest at our wedding.

Right now, we've got $50 allocated to food. I'm not sure how many people will come. I'm guessing about 20 (including us, plus guests of the guests). Um, that breaks down to $2.50 per person.


We'll definitely need to make the food ourselves on that kind of budget, and we'll need it to be easy. Plus we'll be eating outside, so we'll have to think about temperature issues. Some ideas:
  • Make-Your-Own-Pizzas (although this might be slow with 20 people, plus we'd have to go in and out of the house)
  • Make-Your-Own-Sandwich Bar: This could work (it's what we did for our Welcome Picnic), although I'm not too thrilled about it as a vegetarian. It's just hard to make your own really good vegetarian sandwiches.
  • Make-Your-Own-Grilled-Cheese: Hmm...this is an interesting idea for a kid's birthday party. We could set up an electric griddle and people could make gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches!
  • Tacos/Burritos: We could set out a crockpot full of black beans, rice, shredded lettuce and cheese, tomatoes, onions, etc. We could make guacamole and serve queso. This option might be fun, especially because I want to make a pinata for Henry.
  • Lasagna: These are easy to make ahead, but keeping them warm wouldn't be very fun.
  • Chili: We could borrow a couple crock pots and make different kinds of chili. We could set up lots of different toppings.

On this kind of budget, I think we'll have to ask people to bring their own alcohol. We could do a big batch of a signature drink, but it is going to be 11:30 in the morning after all. We have a giant glass dispenser, so we could use it to set up water with orange slices. Maybe a soda bar if we have enough money?

I guess we'll have to decide on the main dish before we start planning the sides. (Oh, and the reason I'm not talking about Henry's preferences in this process is because that kid loves to eat basically anything at this stage in his development.)

Today on Feeding the Soil: A letter to my son, Henry Jones, on his 11-month birthday.

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Ellie said...

What about kebabs? You can do grilled veggies, marinated tofu and meats, and everybody can assemble their skewers and then put them on the grill. You can also do fruit kebabs as a side dish.

I really like the grilled cheese bar - and serve with a crockpot full of tomato soup for added yummyness! Also, lasagna is a good idea, and disposable chafing dishes are actually really inexpensive, and eco-friendly if your neighborhood recycles foil. You just make the lasagna in the foil pans and then put them in the chafing dish and light the sterno underneath. You can also rig something with a heating pad or thrift a heated serving plate.

Samantha Hernandez said...

Why do you need to serve alcohol at a child's party? I'm not trying to be rude by the way. .:)

Sharpiegirl said...


Have a crock pot birthday party. You can have several set up with different things, lasagna, beans, chili, risotto...etc. Then you don't have to worry about keeping the food warm because they will hold their heat for quite a while.

Oh and if you use the crock pot liners clean up is a breeze!

Faye said...

Hi Sara,
We had lots of family round before Christmas including two kids of 7 and 9. I was really worried about what I could cook (esp as we don't have children and I'm determined kids should eat what their parents eat, but didn't want to offend their folks)that everyone would like, would be cheap (very important for us right now) but also easy, fun and half healthy. I cooked up some chili, and did nachos with shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, grated cheese, salsa, guacomole, and sour cream. Typical really but it went down a storm. The little boy apparently told his Mum that the food was awesome!! High praise indeed! So, the nachos idea of yours sounds fun! Go for it! Have fun planning xx

ryanandlaura247 said...

Along the lines of the chili bar, I saw someone do a baked potato bar that went over really well. The grilled cheese is a cute idea, and most people I know love mexican food, so I think you have some great options.

Anonymous said...

I love your taco bar idea! My cousin did that once for his child's birthday and it was fun! We all went into the kitchen and made our own taco's.

For drinks, you can actually go to the grocery store and pick up $2.00 wine. Or you could buy boxed wine. My cousin always had his drinks in a cooler or a large bucket! Good luck planning!!! :)

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