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Inexpensive but GOOD Party Trays!

You blink and it's Christmas around the corner. Wifey demanded a boxing day party! (well, she is right in saying so!) So, let's put the chow-brains to work!

I am looking for food that I don't have to cook. Reheating is fine, but I prefer most to be already done!

I don't have a large budget so I can't afford it to be cartered.

We are estimating a 50-75 people walk thru Open house. So that also means that food has to be able to be reheated or okay room-temperture. I am good with dessert. (It pays to have a great baker friend!)

We like all kind of food. So varity is good. Suggestion? Party trays that worked well for your parties? Maybe even recipes which is so simple even I can do ;) Thanks guys!!

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  1. Would you consider the trays from Congee Star or Congee Queen if you are anywhere near the Don Mills hood? I believe they cost 28.88 and each feed between 5 and 8 people so a few of them would make a nice spread. Not sure about the room temp thing tho, would have to check the menu to see which items sit out well.

    3 Replies
    1. re: neighborguy

      I live right in the hood. And Congee Star is my favorite Chinese restaurant in the area. Good Call! thanks!!

      1. re: neighborguy

        I'm intrigued - what do they put on their party trays?

        1. re: peppermint pate

          i believe it's just a supersize of one dish. (fried rice/noodle. they have a list) It's actually a good chow.

      2. There is going to be a lot of "flak" from the Pickle barrel haters here, but last year we had them deliver party trays for our in house staff party.
        The price was very reasonable and the food was fresh and tasty.
        Can't remember all, but turkey, deli, coleslaw, potato salad, party sandwiches, a couple of interesting salads, if I recall one was Greek.
        Large platters of cut up fruit.
        I am only recommending them for the cold buffet.
        We are using them again this year.
        I ordered from the main location on Leslie, as having once eaten at the Yorkdale branch I would never return there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: erly

          Pickle Barrel is great, and VERY reasonable for that.

        2. What about the party trays from Costco? Personally haven't tried them but they look to be a good deal.

          1. My easy party favourites:

            Hummus and Baba ganoush with Pita from Akram's on Baldwin in Kensington Market - just cup up the pita into pie slice shapes - cheap and simple. You can also serve dips (just buy the SummerFresh ones from the grocery store - roasted red pepper, asiago with artichoke are my faves). You can also purchase those cut up veggies and dips at Dominion (and probably other grocery stores) and just use the SummerFresh ones to dip the veggies too. Also get some fruit trays there.

            Samosas from the grocery store - not sure what they are called but they come in packages of 25 for 3 bucks - it's a steal. You just have to pop them in the oven and serve it with some jalapeno jam mixed with rice vinegar.

            Guacamole and Salsa with Blue Corn Nacho chips - guac is so easy to make: peel and squash 2 avocados, cut up a couple of sprigs of coriandar, mince half a red onion and a tomato, add a couple of cloves of finely chopped garlic, et voila. Buy some Herndez salsa (very authentic) from the grocery store. Buy the organic blue corn nacho chips - you can really taste the difference!

            Go to Globo cheese store in Kensington (or a cheese monger at the St. Lawrence Market) and ask them to recommend cheeses for a tray according to your budget and according to the number of people you want to feed. They will walk you through it. Then buy a variety of olives, crackers, other savouries, which can all be found at that same cheese monger.

            Go to the dry food store in the market (Kensington or St. Lawrence) buy walnuts, pistachios, cashews, and other mixed snacks.

            Get assorted artisan breads from ACE bakery.

            Buy lots of prepared salads from a gourmet shop.

            Usually my guests are happy with appy spreads especially if it's an open door party with that many people...

            Good luck!

            1. What about picking up 100 or so samosas from Samosa King? While they are best hot, they are still tasty at room temperature. 5 for $1 and they beat anything you'll get at a grocery store. You can buy them ahead of time and freeze them if you don't have time to run up to Scarborough the day of the party.

              1. What about a sushi tray? Get the vegetable/california rolls (which appeal to many) which can be left at room temperature - unlike their raw fish counterparts... The veg ones are usually about $30 for 25 pieces or so.

                1. Just had a baby shower with food from Whole Foods. Not bad prices for some really tasty stuff. Only downside is that they delivered to the wrong address, so the food arrived after the first few guests. But they comped the bill, so that made up for it in my books.

                  Here's the link:

                  1. Try almost perfect for frozen hordurves located at sheppard and allen. really cheap and easy.

                    i second the samosas.

                    also maybe request a sushi platter from Canoe. I'm sure youll love it.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: HarryLloyd

                      Samosas is a brilliant idea! it's already on my list. I was talking to a friend earlier, because I remeber he had some real tasty ones at his last party. Will report back with more details. YUM.

                    2. sushi is very expensive to serve if you are on a budget.
                      Whole Earth is much more expensive than pickle Barrel.
                      The party sandwiches, tuna egg and salmon are cheap and always a hit!
                      If you want to bother with heating, Costco frozen app's are decent, but that is more finger foods and must be served, and you could supplement them with their cheese tray.
                      There are also a number of butcher shops along Bloor West.
                      I forgot the name of the one I used, but they smoked and sliced the turkey and replaced the skin so that the entire turkey can be displayed.
                      They also prepared salads, side dishes etc.
                      I prefer getting everything from one place as it is easier, and one less stress when you are expecting a crowd.
                      If this appeals to you, I can get the name of the shop if another hound does not reply.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: erly

                        Wow. I think I would love to do Bloor West. Since I do frequent that area for food, I think it woulud be perfect!

                      2. You could buy your own trays at bulk barn (actual disposable trays) and create your own platters.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: pancake

                          What do you suggest to be on the tray. I rather not cook as much that day. too many guests, usually means a mess!

                          1. re: cwong5

                            It is Astra Deli
                            They have a website
                            Phone 416 763 1093
                            Bloor West Village.

                        2. Good deli meats, Cheeses, Olives, pickles.
                          cream cheese, and tasty dips on the side.

                          Big baskets of different buns and pitas, breadsticks etc. . . .

                          veggies with dip.

                          Crusty bread topped with bruschetta.

                          Cold shrimp with dipping sauce.

                          Mini sandwiches - egg, salmon, cream cheese, on different breads.

                          Cold "make ahead" salads in bowls- bean. potatoe, macaroni, coleslaw.

                          Dessert tray - cookies and bars.

                          Anything cold that can be prepped ahead. Adding garnishes makes a huge difference.

                          I would look up platters that caterers offer and try to copy them. Parsley and other greens really boost the appearance of a platter.
                          Also, cutting the sandwiches and cheese in a certain way will really make a difference, same with rolling up deli meats and stacking them a certain way. Loblaws offers fliers of their platters that can be easily replicated.


                          1. exactly, just look at this astradeli website and try to copy those platters. It will be so much cheaper. And with those trays from bulk barn noone will notice the difference.

                            1. The party trays from I Love Sushi are good. http://www.ilovesushi.ca/