Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Frugal Party Foods

Today's the big day- I'm throwing a big birthday bash in honor of my son and doing it all on a very tight budget. This is part 3 of my Parties on a Budget series.

Part of the spread. Taco shells and fillings, for the most part.
When you think about party food, you probably either picture package after package of of calorie and chemically saturated junk or you picture high end, fancy shmancy hors d'oeuvre catered by waiters in black outfits and white aprons.
For my son's party, I am out to prove that you can serve delicious and mostly nutritious food without having to spend so much money. I barely spent more than my usual grocery budget this month, even though I'm having a party for 30 plus people. I strove to make food as nutritious as possible, but I did make a few concessions because of my budget. Even with my concessions (like using lots of sugar, some white flour, a little bit of corn syrup in one recipe, and serving a few things with soy and canola), I still ended up with a much healthier party than I would have if I had bought ready made party food. And yes, I remained true to my convictions about fake sugars, artificial colorings and flavorings, and hydrogenated oils and will be serving none of that at this party.
Note that everything on this list is homemade.
On the menu today:

Kettle Corn. I may end up going with plain salted popcorn though.
Peanut Butter Potato Candy. This is a mixture of a few different recipes I found and is so simple and made with only three ingredients- powdered sugar, a potato, and peanut butter.
Butterscotch Caramel Chews, plain and chocolate covered. I'm actually quite pleased with myself on these- they're perfect and delicious and I didn't even use a candy thermometer like the recipe instructed because I didn't have one and wasn't going to buy one just for this. Using my handy dandy google, I figured out how to do this one without the thermometer.
Chocolate Fudge. I made this with bought marshmallows, so they have the only artificial flavoring of all the lot. Oh well. I'm proud of myself that I made these with homemade evaporated milk.
Buckeye Balls. As a former Ohioan, these peanut buttery treats hold an extra appeal to me. I used this recipe, just with coconut oil in place of the shortening.
Peppermint Patties. I made up this recipe, based on a few I'd seen. They have in them a potato, butter, powdered sugar, peppermint extract, chocolate and coconut oil. They are a perfect mock up of York Peppermint Patties and I'll hopefully post the recipe soon.
Frosted Cake. I made a chocolate cake with homemade vanilla frosting and royal icing. Decorations and writing are with chocolate butter cream frosting. Zero food coloring on this birthday cake!

Candies, all homemade.

Real Food
Veggies: Carrots spears, cut with my wavy edged knife to make it prettier, cucumber spears, pepper spears, cherry tomatoes (a concession- I would usually get regular tomatoes).
Dips and Spreads: French salad dressing, tangy poppy dressing, cucumber yogurt dip, hummus, salsa, and roasted eggplant salad.
Starches: Homemade tortillas baked into taco shells, homemade stove top pitas.

Fillings for Tacos
Corn. I bought corn on the cob cheaply, cut the kernels off the cob and cooked them because that was cheapest. If canned or frozen is cheaper locally, you can get that.
Refried Beans. Homemade, with tomato, chili powder, cumin, garlic, onion, and white beans.
Soy taco meat". Made from rehydrated TVP flakes, seasoned with homemade taco seasoning.
Black bean salsa. Obviously, all beans were homemade, not canned.
Chopped tomatoes

Veggies and dips.

Mock Lipton's Iced Tea
Minty Lemonade
Olive Leaf Iced Tea

So, do you think this is enough food? If you were at a party and this food was served, would you think to yourself "Oh, what a sorry looking party..." or would you think it was fancy and had a nice touch? 
What do you serve at parties?

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