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Budget Friendly Recipes to Host a Crowd

Entertain without breaking the bank. We've rounded up 12 budget-friendly recipes that don't sacrifice flavor.
affordable meals

One of the best parts of summer is finding any excuse to feast with friends and family.  However, it can also be pricey. That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun because you’re on a budget, you just need a solid plan. Start by choosing recipes that are more budget-friendly so you can stay on track throughout the party planning process. By creating a menu and buying only the necessary groceries, instead of winging it, you can keep the overall cost down and happily host a successful event. Just because you’re keeping an eye on cost doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor! We’ve rounded up 12 of our favorite recipes to help you entertain any time of day. 

 Slow Cooker Tacos al Pastor

Using a slow cooker saves both money and effort when making this Mexican classic for a crowd. Cut down even further on prep time by mixing a store-bought chunky salsa and canned pineapple for the sauce. Then, top the tacos with your favorite add-ons like crumbled cheese, cilantro, sliced radishes, or fresh avocado. It’s taco time!   

 Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Tacos al Pastor 

Grilled and Marinated Vegetables

Instead of making a large salad for your next get-together, grill up a big batch of vegetables! In this simple recipe, peppers, onions, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms are grilled and then marinated in a flavorful mix of herbs and garlic. Making your own marinade can help reduce cost, too. Serve these at your event or use it as meal prep for the whole week. 

 Get the recipe: Grilled and Marinated Vegetables

Ultimate Italian Subs 

One of the easiest and most affordable ways to feed a lot of people is by serving an iconic sub sandwich. Simply layer different sliced meats straight from the deli counter onto store-bought Italian bread. The secret to the best subs ever? Plenty of olive oil and vinegar drizzled on top!  

 Get the recipe: Ultimate Italian Subs 

Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna

Love lasagna but hate the multistep process? This slow cooker hack is the ultimate way to minimize your prep and sneak in some extra veggies! Summer squash is cut into thin planks to replace some of the lasagna noodles. To assemble, layer ricotta filling, store-bought tomato sauce, and shredded mozzarella for an easy, comforting, nutrition-packed dinner.  

 Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna

Seven Layer Dip 

Sometimes you can’t beat the classics! This seven-layer stunner is also easy on the wallet by using canned foods that help you save without sacrificing flavor. Cut through the richness of refried beans and sour cream with fresh tomatoes, chopped green onions, and sliced olives. Serve this craveable dip with tortilla or plantain chips. 

 Get the recipe: Seven Layer Dip

Biscuits and Gravy Casserole 

Brunch is a more budget-friendly way to host a whole crowd, and this Southern classic turned casserole is sure to please a wide range of tastebuds. Plus, using frozen premade biscuits makes this recipe a breeze to pull together. Serve this as your main dish for brunch or even try it out as breakfast for dinner! 

 Get the recipe: Biscuits and Gravy Casserole

Caprese Mini Frittatas 

Keep with the brunch or breakfast for dinner theme by making these little caprese frittatas. Eggs are a great cost- effective alternative to some of the other more expensive proteins, and these minis are perfect for a grazing-style brunch or to make at the beginning of the week for a grab-and-go breakfast.  

 Get the recipe: Caprese Mini Frittatas

Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels  

Transform crescent rolls into cheesy chicken pinwheels with this easy recipe. Mix cream cheese, hot wing sauce, shredded rotisserie chicken, and Colby Jack cheese to create a deliciously gooey filling. Using pre-cooked chicken is a speedy hack and you can save the rest of the chicken for another dish, essentially getting two meals for the price of one! 

 Get the recipe: Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels 

Cowboy Casserole 

We can’t forget about casseroles as a budget-friendly way to feed a large group! Ground beef is mixed with canned enchilada sauce, black beans, and frozen corn. Stretching beef with other protein helps lower the cost, while using frozen ingredients like chopped vegetables and tater bites keep the prep time under 10 minutes.  

 Get the recipe: Cowboy Casserole

Ranch Macaroni Salad

For all of our ranch fans out there, this one’s for you! This creamy, starchy macaroni salad takes the beloved dressing to the next level and uses Geek yogurt to keep it on the healthier side. Filling sides like pasta or potato salad are great foods to add to your table that are as delicious as they are affordable.  

 Get the recipe: Ranch Macaroni Salad

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken Wings

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Chicken wings are a great way to serve protein even though you’re picking a less popular cut of meat. Plus, cooking the wings in a slow cooker keeps them tender and creates a perfectly sticky sauce.  Be sure to make enough – these wings are sure to fly away fast! 

 Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken Wings

Berry Pound Cake Trifle with Lemon Curd 

We can’t skip dessert! This colorful and tasty trifle is perfect for serving a crowd. Make a quick lemon curd, then layer in store-bought pound cake and a mix of berries.  Creating your own curd and whipped cream are economical ways to balance out more expensive fruit. This show-stopping sweet treat is sure to make anyone smile.  

 Get the recipe: Berry Pound Cake Trifle with Lemon Curd 

Strawberry Balsamic Bruschetta

Try out a summery staple appetizer with this easy twist on bruschetta. Swap sweet, in-season strawberries in for the usual tomatoes and marinate them in tart balsamic vinegar. Spread creamy ricotta on a fresh piece of bread before topping with the strawberries. Don’t forget the basil for an extra pop of freshness! 

 Get the recipe: Strawberry Balsamic Bruschetta

Grilled Cheese Charcuterie Board

Wow your guests by leveling up your grazing board! Make your grazing board part of the spread by using store-bought pizza dough. Scatter olives and tomatoes on a sheet pan before covering it all with the dough. Grill your board then add a whole wheel of brie to get melty. Add extra toppings like Parmesan, pepperoni, ricotta, and honey before digging in. 

 Get the recipe: Grilled Cheese Charcuterie Board

Meatball Sub on a Stick

Transform this Italian-American favorite into a portable treat with this 5-ingredient recipe. Canned pizza dough is woven frozen meatballs on skewers before getting an extra-yummy coat of garlic oil. Serve these skewers with warmed tomato sauce to hit home that classic meatball sub flavor. For an extra bonus, try topping them with shredded mozzarella cheese.  

 Get the recipe: Meatball Sub on a Stick

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