We just passed graduation season, with all of its accompanying graduation parties. My own daughter will be graduating from high school in two short years, so it got me thinking about the party we’ll throw for her at our house when she does. I know we’ll want to invite lots of people—family, our friends, her friends, as well as any teachers or mentors that helped her along the way. It could end up being a sizeable crowd—and they’ll all come expecting to be fed.
While I would love to make a phone call and have the whole thing catered, that’s not exactly in the budget, so I started thinking about a few ideas for food that would satisfy a crowd, but not break the bank.
Breakfast for Dinner
We’ve found breakfast for dinner to be a real crowd pleaser in the past. We make several breakfast casseroles (all of which can be made a day or two before and just popped in the oven at the last minute), cut up some fresh fruit, fry up several pounds of bacon, and everyone’s happy! For the casseroles, we make a combination of sweet and savory. I’ll typically make a French toast casserole of some sort, as well as a couple of egg-based casseroles, and maybe some cinnamon rolls.
The ingredients for breakfast foods are incredibly affordable and breakfast foods also tend to be very filling—a win-win!
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
My go-to for large crowds is almost always pulled pork. Where I live, pork butts tend to go on sale for as little as $.99 per pound quite often, making them a very affordable cut of meat. Hamburger buns are also inexpensive, especially if you buy them in bulk. I usually serve pulled pork sandwiches with a side of baked beans, potato salad, and maybe some fresh fruit. If you buy fruit that’s in season, this ends up being a very affordable meal for a crowd.
I love a good taco bar! You put out all of the ingredients, and let people assemble their own tacos. I tend to just do ground beef and shredded chicken for the protein, in order to keep costs down, and I’ve never had any complaints. Serve with a side of rice and beans (both very affordable—especially if you make them from scratch), and you have a very filling meal.
If your event is in the winter, put out several varieties of soups, make a big salad, and serve it with some good bread. This a great option for an open house-type party. You can borrow a few crock pots from your friends or neighbors to keep the soups warm all night and let people serve themselves anytime. Most soups can also be made ahead of time and then reheated, so you don’t have to do as much scrambling on the day of the party.