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Cheap food for a party with kids

Need ideas for food to serve at a party for a non-profit I work with. There will be about 30 people at the party; about 15 kids ages 4-15 and roughly 15-20 staff members mostly college students. Basically, each staff member, about 10-12 of us, is expected to bring some food item for the party. We have roughly $50 to spend for the night. Have done pot lucks in the past with mixed results. Looking for an alternative to ordering pizza. Healthier option are encouraged as we are a health promotion organization. Also, limited resources are available at the party location; a sink, a microwave, a fridge, and a crockpot. I am looking for recipes/menu ideas that require various ingredients but little if any prep time to pull together to make a complete meal. I would like to have them all contribute to one main dish or a cohesive meal. Also, I am looking for ideas that are kid-friendly and allow kids some choices; i.e we did nachos once and let the kids choose their toppings. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Baked ziti is an easy alternative to pizza and much less expensive. You can one vegetarian and one with turkey sausage and vegetables, with a salad on the side. It can all be prepped in advance.

      1. You could do mac & cheese with whole wheat pasta and you could do stir-ins/toppings ... I like it with browned/seasoned ground buffalo & chopped green onion, grape tomatoes on the side. Just had some very decent whole wheat penne that I don't think kids would have a problem with either.

        1. What about a baked potato bar? You can pre-bake the potatoes and wrap in foil to keep warm in the crock pot. Get a bunch of toppings, sour cream (you can also use plain yogurt), butter or margarine, salsa, shredded cheese, chili, steamed broccoli, roasted veggies, chopped tomato, jalapenos, grilled chicken, whatever. Potatoes are cheap and filling.

          1. American chop suey, mac & cheese (any baked mac version- baked ziti lazy lasagna), chilli, chowders (seafood is pricey but how about corn?), spaghetti & meatballs, mashed potato bar (like mentioned above only mashed), Dogs are always cheap, chicken broccoli & ziti, the list is endless