Birthday Party Planning: How I Served 40 Guests For Under $100

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How I fed 40 people at a party for under $100.00. Inexpensive party planning.

Last year we threw a birthday party for my daughter who was turning 12.  Money was kind of tight but we had about 40 people that we needed to feed.  With some sweat equity I was able to get everyone fed for under $100.00.  How did I do this?   I saved money on food costs by making all of the food myself.  The soda, and juice boxes were probably the biggest expenditure, if we had wanted to cut back more I could have gone with a punch option.

Here is what I served:

4 double layer round cakes, one chocolate with chocolate icing, one lemon, one German Chocolate, and one marble.  These cakes took me about 2 1/2 hours to bake and ice. I did this the day before the party. I used pre-made lettering.

I made a huge pan of baked mostaccioli (Used store bought sauce bought on sale - Start looking out for sales at least a month in advance.)  This is very simple just boil a large pot of noodles, strain water out and poor the noodles in a large baking pan.  Pour sauce in to pan and stir to coat all of the noodles.  Generously sprinkle with parmesan and mozzarella cheese, bake in oven at 350 just until cheese begins to melt.  It looks nice and it very simple.  Set out some extra sauce for people to pour on, as the baking tends to dry the sauce out a bit.

A big pan of baked chicken legs (this saved money as these are a cheaper part of the chicken but buy what ever is cheapest).

A big pan of macaroni and cheese, (5 boxes bought generic at .75 per box), baked beans (canned) cooked in a crock pot.

Roast beef from the deli 12 pounds, cooked in two large crock pots, with beef broth, and sliced green peppers, along with bread to make sandwiches. You can also ask at the deli if they have the juice for the roast beef if they do they will usually give it to you for free with the purchase of the roast beef.

2 Jello molds - Just Jello in a mold, make two different flavors, or layer flavors, Jello costs almost nothing and kids love it.

Potato salad - Find a recipe and make it yourself.  Buying at the Deli can get expensive unless it is on sale.

One water melon cut in to small quarters of a round piece.  You should get plenty of pieces out of a good sized watermelon, or buy two small ones.

Some Aldi's potato chips

As you can see I had quite a bit of food and I didn't spend that much money.  The mostaccioli and the macaroni together only cost about 10 dollars.  The watermelon was huge, and cost around $5.00.  The beef cost around $30.00, the chicken cost around $16.00, the cakes cost maybe $3.00 a piece.  I had the potatoes on hand and they needed to be used anyways so they really didn't really cost much of anything.  I made three large cans of beans that cost about $1.50 each so the beans cost around $4.50.  The Jello molds cost just under $2.00. I spent about $100 total.

The remaining money went to sodas and juice boxes, a disposable plastic table cloth, plates, plastic silver wear, and Napkins.  The plates, silver wear, napkins and table cloth were all purchased at the dollar store. So you can see this was not an expensive party to throw at all and there was plenty of food for everyone.  A lot of people stayed later after the party to play cards and there was enough for everybody to eat again later in the evening.

Misc. Tips You could save further by making a punch instead of serving cans of soda and juice boxes, but you risk spillage.  If the party is outside, set up a punch bowl near the door but out of the way of the traffic flow.  You could also make a punch that is light in color or even clear. 

Mix a white grape juice with 7 up, or Squirt, it's quite yummy.  Make two bowls if you like and use sugar free soda in case you have dieting or diabetic guests. Not fond of making cakes?  Make cup cakes.  Making your own cake or cakes costs between 2 and 3 dollars per cake as opposed to $17.99 to $30.00 + for a store made or bakery made cake.  You can use a mix and pre-made icing, simple and still tasty.

If you want to offer another meat option, buy Italian sausage.  Cut the links in to fourths, and fry up with some green peppers to add some flavor and color.  If you do this with about 3 packages it should be enough.  This will cost about $9.00. The sausage will also compliment the mostaccioli and the chicken. You could also make meatballs if you make them yourself it will not be expensive, and will also compliment everything.


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