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Oct 11, 2007 10:07 PM

Dinner party for 40 on a budget! Shopping help!

So, I am having a dinner party on the 21st. Started out it was just going to be a small get together and now I'll be feeding 40. Which is great. I'm excited. I'm good at cooking for big parties and have some really great kitchen help. And, I have been saving up for the last two months to be able to put this together so I think I'll be okay. I just want to try and get the best ingredients as reasonably as possible. I've done the shopping for the non-perishables and have about $180 for the rest.--can probably come up with another $30 between now and then. Think I can I do it?

Where to go to get ingredients? I want to do organic but for some things I'll probably do conventional. Can I afford to do the Ferry Building Farmers market for produce? Really I just want an excuse to blow $100 there, but I know it's not the frugal way to go. But I want purple carrots and watermellon radishes and sweet sweet corn and deer tounge lettuce and pt reyes blue cheese and organic marigolds and .... Wheee!!! Ahem...Anyhow.

Any other ideas where to go for produce? Any other farmers markets that you like? Thinking maybe I'll go to Golden Produce for things I can't afford at the Ferry building. Not in love with Rainbow's produce but it's pretty good so might go there? Thoughts?
Here's the menu..

Buttermilk fried chicken-- Called around and surprisingly enough Bi-Rite has the cheapest Fulton Valley Farms leg quarters. A buck cheaper than Mission Meat Market and only fifty cents more than coventional chicken at some other meat market on Mission. Wow. So I went ahead and ordered 35 leg quarters cut into two. And, I got a pound of chicken livers 'cause I like them and really think that if people have had good chicken livers they will like them. I figure I'll probably pick up a few breasts to throw into the mix. So about $40 or so will go to the chicken. I have the dry ingredients just need the buttermilk. Like a gallon and a half or so.

For the veggies we're having:
Mashed potatoes with celery root and mushroom gravy--already bought potatoes at rainbow-10 lbs. Am thinking I should get another 10 lbs. Plus 1/2 and 1/2. Already have the butter and a huge container of mushroom stock in my freezer.

Citrus marinated beets-- where can I get enough beets for 30 people for around $15?

Brussel Sprouts--with truffle oil and pecorino romano-Already bought the cheese and truffle oil. Whew. Probably have to go conventional on the sprouts. All the organic ones I've seen are around $5/lb which I can't do for such a big party. boo.

Corn on the Cob with shallot butter--Really want to get good organic fresh fresh sweet corn. Ferry Building? Can I get 2 ears for $1 there?

Big Salad-with really finely sliced radishes (a few different kinds) and carrots (purple? red? orange?) sunflower sprouts or something similar, a few different kinds of hearty lettuces, tomatoes from my bf's roof garden and a blue cheese vinagrette. Bacon bits and croutons on the side. Will prb just pick up a few slices at Bi-Rite. Or is there someplace amazing that I have to go for bacon?

Then for more starch I'm making Hungarian sour cream rolls--already have the sour cream and flour and such. And strawberry jam that I already made--got a good deal on u-pick strawberries at swansons Berry farm.....
And buttermilk corn bread with honey butter. Already have the honey and butter and the corn meal.

So, where to shop? Any brilliant ideas, tips, thoughts? Is there some hidden farmers market with amazing prduce but cheaper than the Ferry Building? Some bay area grocery store that I don't know about?

Can I feed 35 people good organic stuff without eating cereal for every meal from now until the party? I actually really like cereal.....

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  1. If you're willing to cross the bay, Monterey Market in Berkeley often has shockingly low prices for produce from local farms. You could give them a call to see what their current prices are for some of the produce you're looking for. In my experience they're vastly cheaper than any of the local farmers' markets, even for produce from the same farms.

    Monterey Foods
    1550 Hopkins St, Berkeley, CA 94707

    3 Replies
    1. re: Kitchen Imp

      Do they have a good selection of organic stuff? I gave them a call and got a few prices but he sounded pretty busy so didn't want to keep him on the phone too long. Sounds like a great place. Do they have a good enough selection to make the trip from SF?

      1. re: misti

        I love the MM and go weekly, however right now they have no corn at all. The radishes are only purple carrots, no unusual lettuces... I think of it as a good place to do my regular shopping, but you'd probably be disapointed -- though much of the produce is organic.

        1. re: Glencora

          Thanks! I'll have to go sometime when I'm on that side of the bridge already and not looking for fancy party veggies -- looks like a good place to pick up groceries on my way back over to SF. Think I'll probably stick to doing my shopping for the party on this side--I guess with gas and bridge toll and such it probably won't be much cheaper to go to the East Bay. But I always love to explore new markets so i'll have to check it out at some point. Looked at their website and it looks really great.

    2. The Alemany Farmers Market is dirt cheap. You may not find everything you're looking for and the scene is nothing like the ferry plaza, but the quality is good and the prices are low.

      1. can't beat the quality or prices of the produce at Golden Produce on Church at Market, across from the Safeway, next to blockbusters

        5 Replies
        1. re: Lori SF

          Was thinking that Golden Produce would probably be one of my best bets. I may call the Monterey Mkt and see what they have in terms of local stuff and see how it compares to Golden. I've never noticed whether or not Golden carries local produce. Do they?

          1. re: misti

            I think its a mix of local organic and not. Good question to ask, I just know I come out with a bag of fresh organic produce for 16.00 instead of 40.00 from Real Food near my house or Whole Foods and it's better than both. I like Rainbow too but it cost more, good for spices and bulk, love their bulk olive oil.

            1. re: Lori SF

              I know, the prices at GP are hard to beat. And it's in the neighborhood which is always a plus. I think I'll go to the Ferry building farmers market on Saturday and just poke around maybe pick up a few fancy odds and ends and then go to Golden for the bulk of it. No Rainbow for produce this time--maybe for some cornmeal and bulk olive oil ! My housemates and I were just wondering a couple of days ago whether or not its cheaper to get it in bulk or not....

              1. re: misti

                are you asking about the olive oil? after you purchase the actual glass jug or bring your own yes it is a lot less expensive we use so much for salads and cooking that this is the only way to go. Their are two types of olive oil taste before you buy. I think they have the bulk items down because sometimes I need more of this a less of that then you are not sitting with a prepackage of something you only use once. The spices and teas are great you just buy what you need, spices go bad after six months.
                I love FP but when I am on a budget it gets expensive, get your herbs and main items there but the rest at Golden Produce. good luck.

        2. I think your best bet (price-wise and selection-wise) is the Berkeley Bowl.