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Main Dishes for a party that are COLD

I'm hosting a kids birthday party and it will be warm out, and I don't want to be cooking while the party is going on. Any suggestions for good main dishes that are served cold?? And not super time consuming to prepare?

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  1. What age range are the kids?

    1. Cold or room temp...those are two different requirements.

      1. Do a variety of subs and then cut them into 2-3" sections so the kids can have a variety of them and only take what they want to eat. Turkey and cheese, ham and cheese, roast beef, veggie sub...

        1 Reply
        1. re: ocshooter

          +1 to the subs. Even the super picky kids (which there are always a few of those) will likely eat some sort of basic sandwich, even if it means they pick off one or two components. Add a salad or two (potato, vegetable, pasta) or a cold noodle dish (love sesame noodles) and call it a day.

        2. A pasta salad with a protein? Chicken, pepperoni, salami etc?
          potato salad with sliced hotdogs (tre chic)
          Pinwheels made with flour tortillas, cream cheese, ham
          spring rolls with protein such as chicken or shrimp

          1. Pork rinds, pickled eggs & slim jims. O'Douls to drink, just like the big boys! (almost)

            1. Cold pasta salads come to mind...they can use mayo dressings or oil dressings, depending on preference. But if they're little kids, will they want to use a fork and stab and slippery pasta? Maybe not. I would spring and order delivery pizza if I were that time-pressed and didn't want to cook.

              1. I was going to suggest a cold poached salmon with a nice mayonnaise sauce but you seem to have the wrong age group. :o)

                1. If they like veggies - gazpacho
                  If you make bacon ahead of time (or leave it out) - Make Elvis' or PB & J's
                  Cold noodles with sesame sauce
                  Potato/Mac salad
                  Fruit Salad

                  1. Cold meatloaf (turkey, chicken, or pork) w/ pasta salad or regular salad.

                    1. How old are the kids? For 5 and under I always did mostly cold/room temperature finger foods. I kept it very simple, the basics being veggie and fruit plates, cheese, cracker and deli meat trays. Better than sandwiches or other composed foods because the picky little buggers, er, cuties, can pick and choose exactly what they want. Fruit kebabs can be cute but kids will tend to just eat the fruit they like so why not avoid the fuss and let them choose from a tray. Cookies, brownies and other squares and cupcakes were also perfect, avoid the whole cake cutting thing too. To keep it more interesting for the adults I included homemade dips (such as blue cheese and caramelized onion), some purchased hummus etc, a nice cheese & pate plate, and/or a smoked salmon platter. Roasted veg could be nice too. Over the years from 1st to 5th birthday (the last time I did a big party for both adults and kids) I learned to simplify and I was happier for it!