Chicagolandia
It's that season again: potluck/BBQ! What does that mean to the frugal gals out there? Speak up quickly, or establish a dish that you'll bring to any family, work, or neighborhood get-togethers. How to avoid getting stuck bringing something expensive? Be the first to offer a dish. Or, my personal favorite: bring something unique. Here's a quick break-down of tips to keep your wallet full while having fun at the potluck party.

1. Identify what's missing.
Case in point? After attending a few BBQ with DH's family, it became clear that there was no true baker in the bunch. Some brought store bought pies and cakes, but none offered cookies. Whoa! A BBQ without the requisite 3-12 kinds of cookie to choose from? To me, that's unheard-of. And, a easy niche for me to fill.

2. Offer something unique.
If you're not a big baker, or someone has already filled that niche, my next suggestion: your signature dish. Baked bean casserole comes to mind for me. If we're at someone's home, this is a great thing to bring, and something I constantly hound the ingredients for. There is no sale on pork 'n' beans I leave unturned. No good sale, that is.

3. Not a big cook or baker?
Don't worry - here's one for you! Always keep an eye on deals for hotdogs/sausage - of any kind. There are loads of coupons and this is the season to stock-up. Or get to know your local bakery outlet - very well and bring buns/bread/etc. Other cheap things to bring? Condiments you've bought for pennies using coupons, napkins bought on clearance (or paper towel, if that's cheaper), or salad. Grab a few heads of lettuce, chop, toss in some shredded cheese, and you are all set.

4. Party trays. It can be done on a budget!
Got a garden, have a local famrer's market you love and get deals at? Make a veggie tray, set up a cheese tray, or my personal favorite - the under $3 tray! What's that? I hunt through my freezer, grab up precubed cheese, smoked sausage, and some ham I grabbed on sale (it's easy to make into cute rolls. A bag of baby carrots and you are all set.

5. Make a simple salad or dip.
Yep, potlucking can really be that easy. My favorite isn't my recipe, but check out this yummy, yummy homemade ranch dressing dip from Lisa B. over at kittytigerskitchen.blogspot.com! I add in 1/4 medium red bell pepper (finely chopped) and it goes great on crackers (you can use coupons and get them free or just hit Aldi's), baby carrots, celery, etc. etc.

6. Still not finding a solution for you? Bring corn chips or crackers. Get them on sale (never pay more than $1-$1.50 per bag/box). Bring 2 choices, I tend to grab one of each. Corn chips can double as a salad topper if you crush them up and top a taco salad with 'em.

7. Bring a simple drink.
No, we're not talking alcohol - let the guys bring that (they usually do anyway). For me, I'll make a couple pitchers of Southern-style sweet tea. It's a refreshing change to the soda that usually served, and goes great with anything. Other ideas? Fruity lemonades are another big hit - all you need is some frozen berries (or 1/2 lb. fresh strawberries makes a double batch), some lemon juice concentrate, and some sugar. It's a simple, summer treat.
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6 Responses
  1. Amanda Says:

    Great ideas! I especially like the "bring the disposable dishes and paper towels" suggestion. I always give that one to people who I know can't, and therefore shouldn't, cook.


  2. LOL - that's usually assigned to the guys that are too lazy/don't know how to cook for us! We also encourage them to bring bottled, soda, etc. Bags of chips are also ideal to suggest to people who aren't cooks/bakers.


  3. Precious Says:

    Many times I made up a batch of my homemade BBQ sauce and put it in a pretty bottle with a bow. Add a bottle of wine or a 6 pack of beer! Everyone loves my BBQ sauce.


  4. Darlene Says:

    I am in charge of bringing the potato salad.
    More love and labor then expense. Big bag of potatos, eggs, mayo and spices....I use the big tupperware bowl - 25 cups or so. So much better than store bought and often requested.

    I love your blog, thanks!


  5. Precious - I don't know if there's anything better than homemade BBQ sauce.

    Darlene - thanks for stopping by!


  6. Darlene Says:

    You are welcome, I have been actually lurking for few months.


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