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Easy & inexpensive appetizers/snacks for large crowd

I'm looking for ideas for appetizers/snacks/dips that are easy & quick to make. Also fairly inexpensive.

This is for a mid-afternoon baby shower & we are expecting between 30-50 people.

I will be serving coffee, lemonade, & iced tea for drinks & will have a cake.

We don't want the guests to fill up on food right before dinner, but we want to offer some sort of a snack.

There will be 4-5 of us who can cook. I just need some ideas.

So far I've come up with: buffalo dip, 7 layer bean dip, fruit dip, veggie tray, fruit tray. Maybe some chex mix or glazed nuts. I make some great pinwheel snacks with puff pastry, pancetta, parmesan & caramelized onions, but that can get expensive.

How much should I be expecting each guest to eat?

What else do you suggest?

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  1. Hi jcattles-- here's a thread to start:

    If you decide to have spiced nuts, I especially like these:

    1. How long will people be there before dinner is served? What you have listed there sounds like plenty to cover you against anyone who shows up hungry.

      1. Hummus bi tahini is tasty, popular and safe.

        1. I've made similar pinwheels before and people love them. My mother wanted to recreate them but couldn't make it to the store, so used her deli ham and swiss cheese, and they were absolutely delicious. That would cut the cost a lot.

          1. Deviled eggs are cheap, easy, and always the first to go at any party I've ever attended.

            1 Reply
            1. re: phofiend

              +1 for the deviled eggs...also, WHY put all those expensive ingredients into pinwheels? Just do a veggie version and use tortillas (which come in great colors now!)...I like the Hidden Valley Ranch pinwheels from their website but there are a billion others and probably better out there on the internet.

            2. My rule of thumb on a cocktail party is 10 bites of food per person. And if you run out of food most of the way through, don't worry about it, it just means the party went well.

              1. Most types of brushchetta or crostini with toppings are very inexpensive as is making a flatbread out of pizza dough then top & cut into wedges or sections...making dough from scratch is easy & cost pennies. You can use the same pizza dough to make turnovers and stromboli

                1. roasted baby potatoes with dipping sauce. cheap. nom nom.

                  1. Mini polenta rounds (spread cooked polenta in large baking sheet, let firm up, cut with 1 or 1 1/2 in ring, place on baking sheets and broil til golden) topped with tapenade or a pesto or a marina something

                    Soup shooters (i got a big pack of plastic shot glasses at a mart for cheap) - chipotle corn or gazpacho or caramelized garlic cauliflower or etc.

                    Spanakopita - you could even get a few trays of the ones in the freezer section at Costco or Trader Joes and just bake and slice

                    Roasted veggies - sliced sweet potatoes, onions, fennel, carrots, turnips, parsnips, roasted with sea salt and herbs

                    Mini salmon croquettes with a creamy garlic dill sauce

                    Roasted Chickpeas/Garbanzos

                    1. Feta with fresh herbs (this recipe is only cheap if you grown the herbs...use mint, chives, pretty anything except rosemary) and walnuts served with flatbread. A lot of Persion restaurants serve this dish.

                      Marcella Hazan had a recipe where she just blended tuna and butter and I think capers. Serve with toast points. I would add marinated artichoke leaves if you don't do capers. Had something like that in Italy at a gas station and it was AWESOME. I don't have my book with me, but maybe someone can help with the proportions. She said everyone loved it and she was a little embarassed by the simplicity of the dish. God bless canned tuna fish...it's given us some of our tastiest and thriftiest meals.

                      And I love brandade. It's cheap and it's delicious. However, I really like salted cod. Actually, any cod potato thing would be cheap. Like bacalau which I think is deep fried salt cod and potato croquettes.

                      I know you said you cook, but those Alexa Sweet Potato Fries are used by a lot of restaurants and they just jazz it up by offering different dipping sauces. On a similar note, I live in Fort Lauderdale and Costco was selling Acme Smoked Whitefish Dip. At $8 for a huge tub I had to try it because smoke fish is one of my favorite things in the world. I have to say, it was really good. My husband grew up on the stuff and he loved it. I served it with crostini and apples for some friends who stopped by unexpectedly and they commented on how good it was.

                      Most caterers will say 5-7 pieces per guest if dinner is served, but that number is subject to the number of different appetizers offered.

                      1. Popcorn is cheap and light, but when served still-warm from the pan, always feels a bit luxurious to me. My fave version has truffle oil-spiked butter drizzled over it, and is finished with finely grated pecorino romano. (Of course if don't already have truffle oil, you'll have to spend $10-$20 for a bottle, but you only need a wee bit. Truffle salt would probably work even better.)

                        Even if it's just made with grated parmesan, maybe with a sprinkle of dried parsley, some smoked salt if you have it, or a touch of cayenne... I'd be happy to scarf a few handfuls at least!

                        (Edit: Oops, just realized the party has likely come an gone by now. Hope it all went well!)