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Apr 24, 2009 09:07 PM

Group Snacks on a Budget?

I have to provide snacks for a group of ten people for about $15. I'm willing to spend a bit of my own money to go over budget, but I need to keep it close. We don't have any particular dietary restrictions.

It's about a week from now, so I have time, but I'd like to avoid showing up with a bag of chips and some baby carrots. It's an evening meeting, from 4-7, and I don't have access to any kitchen facilities. I'm not responsible for drinks, only snacks.

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  1. I am just about to hit the snacking zone myself and am gonna pull together popcorn with a soy/butter/sugar sauce. Very cheap and tasty. Are you in a dry enough climate that you could pop the popcorn ahead and then just nuke the sauce and mix?

    Rats, upon re-reading I see you have no kitchen at all. Second best would be soy dripped and mixed with nutritional yeast and some superfine sugar. (I'm not much of a sweets gal, but lately the salty/sweet popcorn has really had me going.) MMMM, added chipotle powder and yum was it good!

    ETA: I'm not at all suggesting that the popcorn would be the entire snack, just an arrow in the quiver.

    Home made hummus is inexpensive and delish; no cooking required. Veggies for dipping and some grapes (frozen, perhaps?) could make a nice presentation...

    Looking forward to what others suggest.

    2 Replies
    1. re: miss louella

      That sounds like it might be a good cheap (not terrible for the diet) option. Sweet and salty sounds yummy.

      1. re: miss louella

        I always like a theme! Since its a group of teachers you could go "Old School" with the snacks! Take some childhood favorites and give them an upscale spin or presentation always makes the simple things look fancy.

        Popcorn is easy & you could offer a variety of toppings. Savory (bacon salt, herbs de prov, Old Bay, cajun seasoning, etc.) and sweet things they can toss in with tthe popcorn (Snow Caps, M&Ms, chocolate or butterscotch chips). Air pop at home and store in brown paper bags. Give everyone a paper lunch bag to eat out of and use to mix with seasoning or sweets.

        Sandwiches cut in quarters like Mom used to pack. PBJ, American Cheese, Bologna, Pimento Cheese...serve with Fritos! Green leaf lettuce lining a platter under the sandwiches and some cherry tomatoes or strawberries to make it look more grown-up.

        Make some Jello cups with fresh fruit and Cool Whip or Pudding with fresh berries. I did some yogurt parfaits recently in plastic cocktail glasses and rimmed the cups with colored sugars for a more adult appearance.

      2. This may sound a little "Betty Crocker" but what about something like tortilla rollups? Smoked ham or turkey, lettuce or spinach or sprouts, and cream cheese rolled up in a tortilla and sliced into bite-sized pieces skewered on toothpicks. You can make a veggie tray for next to nothing also if you cut your own carrot sticks, celery and broccoli. You could serve them with Goodhealthgourmet's spicy black bean dip. I saw it posted as a thread here recently. Sounded yummy.

        1. If somebody else is doing drinks it would make a difference whether they are serving coffee (which would go with cookies or cake) or soda, juice, beer, wine etc that would go more with savory snacks. You mentioned chips and raw carrots so I'm guessing the latter. Cooking without a kitchen, what fun. Can you contrive a dip by adding something to sour cream or yogurt, and then cut up a lot of whatever's cheap (veg and/or fruit)? With the budget constraint I would check the week's supermarket adds as sometimes loss leaders are an excellent value. And be sure you go to El Cheapo market and not someplace like WholeFoods, where your budget won't get you in the door. But don't break your heart over this---people in a group or a workplace will eat anything and think it's wonderful.

          1. Jen's Rollups are a good idea. Popcorn, even 'gourmet popcorn', is kinda like potato & tortilla chips...just there.

            Mini Sandwiches - go to the deli department of your local megamart and look for 'deli breads' - loaves of rye, pumpernickel etc that are about 2" x 2" x a foot or so long cut into slices. Get sliced deli meats and cheese and some condiments - mayo, relish, etc. and make mini deli sandwiches.

            Use the same breads and top with tuna or shrimp salad; salmon & cream cheese; etc.

            1. It's 4-7 pm, which usually means dinnertime, and they're only giving you 15 bucks for 10 people? Eggs are cheap, so maybe mini quiches, but even two dozen of those is only two apiece. Big tubs of peanuts in the shell? Too messy?

              Someone posted a recipe for a glorified Chex mix last Christmas when people were asking for things to take to office potlucks. I'll see if I can find it. Although, even using store brand cereal, it might be hard to make a batch for $15.

              Jen76 may be right -- veggie platter with lots of dip.

              Edit: Here's the post for the Chex mix. Sounds good but expensive.

              " Spicy Chex Mix! Add a lot of red pepper, extra cashews and peanuts, Kix and Cheerios, potatoe sticks and Bugles. Double the amount of Worcestershire. A sure hit!

              Permalink | Report | Reply
              FriedClamFanatic Dec 18, 2008 09:19PM"

              5 Replies
              1. re: nemo

                I like the tortilla roll ups, too. The rolls can be made ahead and wrapped in plastic, then sliced and plated just before the meeting. They are always a hit. Do try to get the very largest flour tortillas you can find. People aren't expecting dinner at a meeting. I would just assume they will eat after. Finger food, by all means.

                1. re: MazDee

                  The roll ups have been so well-received at every function I've brought them to, it's amazing. You can make them really spicy or not at all...I'm thinking of making them for Cinco de Mayo at our office along with Goodhealthgourmet's smoky black bean dip with red and blue tortilla chips and then some guacamole, too.

                  1. re: MazDee

                    MazDee: people may not be expecting dinner, but a three-hour meeting especially from 4 to 7, whether business-related or volunteer, is a long time to expect people to work productively on $1.50/person. The roll-ups are a wonderful idea, but I don't know that 15 bucks will get OP far at the deli counter. I'm not sure OP knows if folks will arrive already having had a nosh or are planning on an 8 PM dinner.

                    1. re: nemo

                      They'll arrive directly from work and will just plan to eat dinner afterwards. We're used to it, so the fact that we even get snacks is actually rather a welcome change.

                  2. re: nemo

                    We're teachers so they normally just expect us to bring our own snacks. Any snack budget is nice and the last time I went to a meeting from 3:30-7:30, they ordered us box lunches from the school cafeteria. Ah, the glamorous world of public schools!

                    Typically people come directly from work and just plan to eat after.

                    I might make a quiche in my square casserole dish and slice it into squares. That would be pretty cheap and easy. Also, it's not bad cold.