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Need your best cheap/easy make-ahead recipes for bake sale

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I'm in charge of our church's bake sale, to be held Sunday 10/22. I'll be making some of my old stand-bys (pumpkin spice muffins, chocolate cupcakes, butter thumbprint cookies, snickerdoodles, maybe scones), but I also need some EASY, quick-to-make items made with inexpensive ingredients, preferably items that can be made a day or two in advance. Good example of what I'm looking for is rice krispie treats (yes, I'll probably make these even though I think they are gross---I just know they'll sell!). Snacks, sweets and savories all needed. Thanks!

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  1. Monster cookies? They taste better a day after and they make a huge quantity. The M&M's sell the cookie.

    http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1910,...

    How about homemade chex mix? Peanut brittle, fudge, toffee.

    1. Your question brought Post Traumatic Flashbacks!!! How many bakesales did I contribute to while raising my kids????
      I DID learn one thing though. The stuff that sold out quickest was the old standbys - brownies, blondies, chocolate chip cookies, lemon bars, coconut macaroons - the recognizable things. Pies and cakes, especially bundt and pound cakes, did well because people could take them home for dinner desserts. The beautiful, gourmet items were often slow sellers which was disappointing but true. Cozy and familiar sells.
      I hate to admit this to Chowhounds but we often had a group make batches of brownies from boxed mixes. They still sold great because people love them. Cut them a day or so ahead and pre-wrap in plastic.
      Good for you for giving your time and efforts!

      3 Replies
      1. re: MakingSense

        MakingSense,
        You are so right-on.
        Brownies and chocolate chip cookies from a mix are the easiest thing to make, and sell out every time.
        If you are cooking in your church kitchen, try buying large size boxes, "institutional size", from Costco, Target, etc. and baking on large sheet-cake pans. Also, try adding some choco.chips to the brownies--easy and delicious. Be sure to under-bake the brownies a little.
        Chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie mixes are easy as well, and you can decorate them with m & m's, candy corn, etc.
        My other idea, in light of Celeste's great suggestion below, and my weight watchers training, would be to cut the brownies into 2 different sizes, regular and small.
        Have fun, and good luck!

        1. re: p.j.

          If you have access to an institutional sized kitchen with a mixer, you don't even need the boxes. In high school, with zero training, I made 100 dozen chocolate chip cookies from scratch in an afternoon. What got me through were a mixer that could handle quadruple batches at one time and four ovens.

        2. re: MakingSense

          This is absolutely true. Last year my kids' school had a bake sale. The packaged-mix chocolate chip cookies sold fast, but I showed up at the end and got lots of gorgeous amaretti cookies that a fellow foodie had made, for half off. Obviously no one recognized those treasures. (By the way, I do love those rice krispie treats, so I guess I'm not SUCH a snob.) Someone below posted a link to mini pretzels topped with softened Hershey's kisses/hugs and an M&M. My sis-in-law made those once, and they are really quite addictive.

        3. No recipe here, just an idea I though was clever when I saw it at a bakesale recently: put out a collection jar and make a big poster that says something like "COUNTING CALORIES? Make a Donation and Skip the Sugary Treats" It seemed to work well..the jar was full of dollar bills.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            Great idea - I've taken to making a donation when co-workers come around with the chocolate bars and other fund-raising items.

            1. re: Hungry Celeste

              That is an excellent idea!

              People are really very generous, but when you try to sell them something that they really don't want they feel it's polite enough to just say no thank you. If you provide an opportunity to make a simple donation, it seems they're willing to give a dollar to a good cause!

            2. I'd have to whole heartedly agree with posters, brownies and chocolate chip cookies. As a true hound I always want to make something different and next week I have to make something for a sale at our elementary school, I already picked up a box of Giradelli brownie mix (the only one I'll buy and my pups love them). I feel guilty every time but it reminds me of years ago when I volunteered to make sugar cookies for a decorating thing at my son's preschool and I opted for Betty Crocker mix because I always hate how homemade cut outs taste...the director pulled me aside later and said "just wanted you to know that we took a vote and your cookies were the best" (I had a reputation for being a baker!) I did confess but I never forgot that either and in fact a bag sits on my counter right now to make cut-outs with my pups...right next to the homemade banana cupcakes with fudge frosting...from scratch!! ; )

              3 Replies
              1. re: 4chowpups

                I like the Betty Crocker Pouch Mix for peanut butter cookies. I add peanut butter instead of the "add 1/4 cup of oil".

                If you want EASY cookies, just spread the choc chip or peanut butter cookie mix into a big 13x9 pan and bake, then cut into squares. Saves the time of spooning out the cookies onto cookie sheets etc/.

                1. re: 4chowpups

                  I used to make brownies from scratch and I became famous for the best brownies around. One time for a family party I substituted Giradhelli's brownie mix for convenience and guess what...no one knew the difference! They still don't!!

                  1. re: 4chowpups

                    What are cut-outs? PS. The recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli Chocolate can make very good brownies.

                  2. I say, to anyone making a large number of drop cookies for whatever reason COOKIE SCOOP. Sometimes they are called icecream scoops, sometimes people call them portioners. Whatever you call it, they make cookie making/baking a breeze. I like the 3/4oz size, but a 1oz makes agood size cookie.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sweetie

                      YES! The cookie scoop is a superb gadget that vastly speeds up cookie making. It's also good for tiny scoops of ice cream.