Lifestyle/ Party Planning

Party Food Ideas on a Budget

Party food ideas on a budget. Idea number 2 is the evergreen one dish party where everyone makes one dish and brings it to the hosts house where it is served and enjoyed by everyone.

Hosting a dawat can be expensive, and that is why I have come up with party food ideas on a budget. Serve delicious food, and enjoy the company of your loved ones without breaking the bank. 

It’s always fun when loved ones come over. Good food, lots of laughs, reminiscing about old times, and just catching up on gossip is always enjoyable. But throwing parties regularly can be expensive. Here are some tips that will let you entertain, but in a way that will fit your budget.

  1. Invite people for breakfast/brunch

Throwing a breakfast or brunch party is so rare these days, (unless of course it’s the shadi wala breakfast) despite it being an excellent time to invite people over. People are generally free in the morning and having them over for breakfast means the rest of the day would be saved for other things. Compared to the evening, morning traffic is minimal. If your guests get up late, there is always brunch.  Popular breakfast items are easy to make and affordable to order at the same time.

Party food ideas on a budget. Idea number 1 is throwing a breakfast or brunch party with either Pakistani items or continental items.

A delicious breakfast spread. The halwa puri is from outside, but the pancakes and omelette is made at home

Few suggestions for menu items can be:

Menu 1 – Keeping it VERY basic – Halwa Puri + Omelet + Chai

Menu 2 – Fancy Desi naashta – Paratha’s + Omelet + Qeema + Kheer + Chai

Menu 3 – All Veg Desi Naashta – Aloo Paratha + Chole + Aloo ki Sabzi + Lehsun Chutney + Achaar + Chai

Menu 4 – Desi Continental Mix Naashta version 1 – Pancakes w/ salted caramel sauce & fruit + Paratha/Puri with Omelet + Milkshakes + Chai

Menu 5 – Desi Continental Mix Naashta version 2 – Crepes with sauce & fruit + Halwa Puri + Milkshakes + Chai

Party food ideas on a budget. Idea number 1 is throwing a breakfast or brunch party with either Pakistani items or continental items.

Pakistani omelette stuffed with cheese. Sprinkling of coriander on top.

  1. Throw a one-dish party

The one-dish is an evergreen dawaat style. Whether at school, at a friend’s place, at a dholki or at home, we have all attended at least a few one dish parties.

The concept is simple. All the guests bring something (starter, main or dessert), and the host serves all the dishes. Everyone eats together. There’s a lot of variety, and the cost as well as time to make the food is divided among all the guests. The host generally arranges for crockery, cutlery, drinks and sometimes a simple item from the menu. There’s clean-up but considered in total, this is far more affordable than hosting a completely on your own.

Party food ideas on a budget. Idea number 2 is the evergreen one dish party where everyone makes one dish and brings it to the hosts house where it is served and enjoyed by everyone.

Just look at that variety – bhuna gosht wtih chinese chicken, salad and a roast chicken at the back.

For a successful one dish, it’s a good idea to find out what everyone is bringing so there’s a proper assortment of dishes instead of 3 types of haleem. The host is also forewarned on what dishes need to be warmed, and what serve-ware is required. He/she can also prepare condiments based on what people are making. For e.g. making raita for biryani.

However, a one-dish party doesn’t work with every guest. An acquaintance for example might think ‘ummm, you invited me to your place and I am supposed to bring the food?”. It also won’t work if the dishes aren’t divided in accordance with what people can easily bring. It will work with a group of people who will understand that it won’t be possible for one person to arrange a party on his/her own. But by dividing the work among everyone, they will be able to have good food and enjoy each other’s company more.

Party food ideas on a budget. Idea number 2 is the evergreen one dish party where everyone makes one dish and brings it to the hosts house where it is served and enjoyed by everyone.

A one dish baby shower for a friend. Biryani, chicken rolls, fish curry and nachos and more!

  1. Make just one dish for the party

We Pakistani’s are known for throwing big parties, and a table filled with food. But is that really necessary? If the focus is to throw a party where friends can sit and enjoy together, can it not be one dish only? Not only does it cost less money but it also saves preparation time.

Of course, in this case, it’s a good idea for that one dish to be a bit special. I mean, bhindi ki sabzi or loki kay kebab might be too simple for a dawaat. But the following would be absolutely delicious:

  1. Khaosuey with lots of condiments.
  2. Singaporean rice, which again is a one dish meal.
  3. Biryani with raita and salad is a crowd favorite.
  4. Paneer reshmi handi  or butter chicken with kulchas and zeera wala chawal. Instead of serving plain roti, serving kulcha or sheermal just elevates the meal.
  5. Make your own burger with a variety of dips and relishes would be a fun idea with friends.
  6. Haleem with condiments; served plain and with roti.
  7. Or invite people over for chai and serve a make your own chaat bar.
Party food ideas on a budget. Idea number 3 is just make one special dish like haleem, khaosuey or handi instead of making 4 to 5 dishes which will take triple the time.

Burmese khaosuey with a variety of condiments is an all-time favorite.

The one problem in a one-dish is that it can be an issue with people who eat only certain items or have dietary requirements. For e.g. someone doesn’t eat beef. In that case, just take out a separate portion for the guest with dietary restrictions or make a small portion with the preferred protein. For e.g. if you are making khaosuey make it in chicken and beef. Yes, it’s an extra step but takes far less time (and money) than making a completely new dish from scratch.

Party food ideas on a budget. Idea number 3 is just make one special dish like haleem, khaosuey or handi instead of making 4 to 5 dishes which will take triple the time.

Biryani with raita. People won’t even need anything else.

For another different kind of party where food takes the backstage is hosting a game night. Read about what a game night is and my favorite board games HERE. Read about hosting a successful board game night HERE

Let me know your thoughts on throwing parties on a budget in the comments section below.

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Arwa
    October 17, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Ive done a do-it-yourself burger bar once. Its only an issue when someone picky is there but otherwise its awesome. People can customize the fillings and sides and enjoy. I made patties with choice of pickles, fresh veggies- onions,tomatoes,lettuce leaves, caramelized onions, crisps, fries, cheese slices, coleslaw and baked potatoes.

    • Reply
      kiran
      October 17, 2017 at 11:11 pm

      Sounds yum! I love caramelized onions. How did you keep the patties warm? That’s the toughest part.

  • Reply
    Maham
    October 17, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    This is super helpful ! I mostly do
    One dish parties – I offer my space and the ladies cook and bring ! So much variety this way.

    I love the ideas Kiran !

    • Reply
      kiran
      October 17, 2017 at 11:52 pm

      Thank you!
      I would love to attend a one-dish party hosted by you! But I won’t bring dessert. That’s your specialty.

  • Reply
    Atiya Abbas
    October 18, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    I love this post!!! I have done a DIY Pizza party once that was a huge hit. Sigh I wanna be this cool again.

    Your ideas are so nice and simple! I love em!

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