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seeking less expensive party recipe recommendations

I am giving a party at which I expect about 100 people--could be 150 but I'll know a week ahead how many. I am looking for good ideas for less expensive foods to make. The expensive ones I can think of myself! ;)
Some make-aheads would also be good. I was already thinking creamed mushroom tarts (not cheap), baklava, hummus, and focaccia (not a make-ahead). These are kind of my hit parade. I'm planning on both savory and sweet. I don't like chick peas but it is an easy, cheap, healthy thing to include. People who tell me they love hummus come to my parties and the other stuff is vacuumed up, and the hummus is never all gone! I've made roasted garlic hummus, also roasted red pepper. That gets $$$.
Thanks!

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  1. Palomalou,

    A big block of cheddar, cut up, on a tray with kielbasa, cooked, and served at room temp, with rye/pumpernickel, dill gherkins, mustard.

    Cold cut platters, augmented with olives, roasted red peppers.

    A few different kinds of fritatta (veg, cheese, ham), sliced into finger-food sized and served at room temp.

    Wraps with plenty of veggies, cut up.

    Vegetarian lasagna.

    3 Replies
    1. re: pinehurst

      I've used a frittata recipe containing zucchinis and other veggies and cheeses for potluck parties, and it goes over quite well. It's cheap, easy, can be made ahead and served cold, is not messy to transport or to eat, and can be cut into any size pieces. A doubled recipe fits nicely into a lasagna pan.

      I haven't found anything to get the job done better.

      1. re: Sharuf

        Absolutely. The ease-factor is unbeatable.

      2. re: pinehurst

        I'll be back with a few easy, make ahead ideas, but a la minute, I can't stress enough the importance of hiring someone(s) to help you plate, put out fresh platters of food and clean up. If you have no idea where to find someone, a local college likely has an employment service where its students register. I'd hire a bartender through a service (they'll be bonded!) as well.

      3. i can get pork butt very cheaply and that can be made several days ahead and simply re-heated day of.

        making any kind of tarts for 100+ is too fiddly for me, so i'd make big pans and cut into smaller pieces. mushrooms can get spendy, so pick another sort of veggie, say zucchini, and roast it, then toss with cream, cheese and eggs for savory tart filling.

        various flavors of fritatta or quiche, with/without meat, and these are just as good room temp and can be made ahead.

        personally hate hummus and also don't like serving dips to big groups. messy and too much potential for double-dipping and such.

        kielbasa or sausage, grilled with peppers and onions.

        roasted chicken legs or satay-style on skewers.

        meatballs.

        vegetarian chili.

        cookies, brownies.blondies.

        1. Do you plan to have a theme (Mediterranean, Italian)?

          Pasta salad (maybe cous cous or orzo based)
          Corn and bean salad
          Onion tarts
          bruschetta bar

          For sweets, cookies (can be made ahead and frozen)... oatmeal cookies and brownies are my favorites.

          1. What kind of party? Is it lunch time, afternoon, evening? Will there be cocktails? Indoors or out? Will it be buffet or will you have help passing food? Finger foods only? Or meal type ok?

            100 people is pretty big, do you want everyone to be able try everything? "Cheap" can be come $$ times a 100..

            Deviled eggs are cheap especially if you buy medium sized

            Big box stores sells large containers of peanuts-you could make spiced peanuts.

            Again- from big box stores you can get a spiral ham and put out mini rolls and mustards

            A large lasagna or pasta bake can be made for pennies per servings.

            A large chafing dish of cocktail meatballs

            Large platter of less expensive grocery stores cheese-cheddar, jarlsburge, red wax Gouda along with crackers. Maybe a few summer sausages.

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodieX2

              +1 on the spiral ham and rolls or biscuits. That was my first thought although I truly have no concept of feeding 100+ people. That is way out of my league and cookware / kitchen.

            2. Good questions! It's not dinner, it's indoor/outdoor, it's at 7 pm (praying for no RAIN). Deviled eggs are a great idea. I just served deviled eggs with crab at my last party, and they went fast. But can do it without the crab!
              No theme--it's retirement party for our boss.
              There will be wine and perhaps other alcohol-type drinks--that's what folks are bringing.
              Blondies, brownies and bar cookies are also a great idea.
              Meat and cheese are getting kind of into the price range I'd rather avoid. But you gave me a great idea--I can get cheap bulk sausage and make little biscuit sandwiches. My biscuits are good, and they are cheap. Cheese straws.
              Thanks! You are a big help-- keep those ideas coming!

              5 Replies
              1. re: palomalou

                i love deviled eggs and make them often when i have under 20 people. but you'd need to make at least 200 for this, which, again, would be way too fiddly for me. :)

                unless everybody coming is vegetarian, people will expect some kind of protein -- it's a dinner-time party.

                1. re: palomalou

                  cheese straws/biscuits are indeed awesome and easy.

                  at the risk of turning in my 'chow' creds, Costco has some fairly good frozen spanakopita among other things. it's a last-minute effort but really just pulling in and out of the oven (ya' have any friend with a sullen teenager willing to make a few bucks doing that?).

                  1. re: palomalou

                    If I got an invitation for 7pm, I'd assume that it was for dinner. I'd go with desserts and make it clear on the invite that was the deal.

                    In addition to cookies, you can add in fresh fruit desserts for those who don't want all the refined sugar.

                    1. re: 512window

                      I agree - I would assume a 7 p.m. invitation was for dinner.

                      1. re: Terrie H.

                        You know, I would too, unless the invite said "join us for snacks" or "join us for dessert".