No matter what the size of your family, you should always be prepared with a menu of easy-to-eat finger foods. These satisfying dishes are simple and cheap to make, ranging in price from about 50 cents a serving for always-fun popcorn or veggie sushi to about $4 a serving for sliders and ribs worth cheering for. Mix and match to come up with an ideal spread without going over budget.
This easy slow-cooker recipe for queso uses just four ingredients. A batch makes for an instant hit that’s much cheaper than any takeout option.
Recipe: Cookie Rookie
Pigs in a Blanket
This classic recipe is quick and easy to prepare with two ingredients: cocktail wieners and crescent rolls. To keep costs extra low, buy ingredients in bulk from a wholesale club such as Costco when making a large batch.
Beans are cheap and filling, which makes this dip a good option for a family. A classic seven-layer-bean-dip recipe can be adapted for what’s on hand and customized to taste. It doesn’t even have to be seven layers — a dish of flavorful refried beans with some hot sauce on top does the trick.
Quesadillas are a favorite game-watching snack and can be made with many different flavor combinations. This recipe for a classic cheese quesadilla is made in the oven to minimize hassle and cleanup. Serve with toppings and fillings of your choice.
Recipe: Add a Pinch
Chicken is less expensive than red meats typically used to make meatballs, and makes for a lighter snack. This recipe uses a slow cooker to make the dish easy. This is an easy make-ahead option that can be kept warm until kickoff.
Recipe: Chef Savvy
Sausage and Pepper Sliders
Hearty mini sandwiches are impressive yet can be easy to pull off. This sausage and pepper slider recipe cuts down on cost by using inexpensive Italian sausage as the meat with more filler from onions and peppers. Cooked in a large batch and assembled on small buns, they’re quick and easy to serve.
Recipe: Taste of Home
You can hardly gather a group to watch sports without ordering wings, but that adds up. This simple recipe for baked chicken wings makes crispy and tangy wings without fatty frying, and starting with bulk frozen wings is cheap enough to serve the family as many as they want.
Recipe: Bon Appétit
Macaroni and Cheese Bites
People have long searched for a way to make mac and cheese a finger food. Rolling it into balls and deep-frying is one option. For a cheaper, hassle-free option, follow a recipe for mac and cheese "cupcakes" — small, handheld portions baked in a muffin pan.
Recipe: Chef in Training
Stuffed Potato Skins
One of the best things about potato skins is their adaptability. This version of the irresistible party food features broccoli and avocado cream rather than the more typical bacon and sour cream. Don’t feel limited by the given ingredients — add favorite seasonal vegetables or whatever is in the refrigerator. Anything from kale and onions to shredded chicken is guaranteed deliciousness when loaded into a potato skin and topped with cheese.
Rather than order pricey pizza delivery, make pizzas from flatbreads and a variety of toppings. This recipe for a classic Margherita version is a good place to start. Set out bowls of toppings and let people make their own customized pizza.
Recipe: Let the Baking Begin
Guacamole is a favorite at parties, and one of the most nutritious options in a sea of fried and fatty foods. Using larger Dominican avocados, which are a brighter green and have smoother skin than Mexican Hass avocados, cuts costs. Or shop an ethnic market for good prices on Hass avocados a few days ahead of time, to ensure they have time to ripen.
Making ribs in the oven is an easy process that fills the kitchen with delicious and tempting aromas. This recipe for baby back ribs takes more than four hours, but they can be prepared easily ahead of time and kept warm in a low-heat oven. Buy in bulk from a wholesale club for quality meat at low prices and feast on ribs all weekend long.
Inexpensive to make, cornbread muffins get a kick from jalapeños, which offer just a touch of heat to offset the naturally sweet corn. They cost just a fraction of the price of ribs and chicken but can be just as essential to a game day celebration.
For those who like their food on the spicy side, bite-size hot peppers are sure to liven up the festivities. Black beans, corn, and cheese come together to make these little poppers.
Easy Stuffed Mushrooms
Warm finger foods rich with hearty flavors are a surefire way to kick off a party. Pillsbury’s take on stuffed mushrooms had one reviewer commenting, "Why have I never thought of this before?!"
Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Dates
Yes, bacon is always a favorite, but the flavors of this recipe take things up another level. While the creator suggests you mix and match, we’re loving the suggested blue cheese, Brazil nut, and cashew option.
Recipe: The Healthy Foodie
Pork and Cabbage Egg Rolls
Chicken Satay Skewers
Made from inexpensive chicken, these easy dipping skewers are a light option that’s full of flavor. Marinating the chicken overnight makes it tender and flavorful, so don’t skip that step, but you can make the sauce and even grill the chicken ahead of time; just heat up the skewers before serving.
Chips and Salsa
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Crudité and Dip
Carrots and celery are inexpensive staples at grocery stores year-round. Combine with a flavorful, cheap, and quick onion and sour cream dip that beats premade mixes. This recipe works well with other veggies, too.
Recipe: Alton Brown
Popcorn, salty, and sometimes sweet, is the perfect crunchy food to eat by the handful while watching the big game. Pop super-inexpensive corn the morning of the party and dust with different flavors for a dash of variety.
This classic party platter has stuck around for a reason: It satisfies with minimal effort and cost. A few types of cheese, such as a block of cheddar, a small wheel of queso fresco, and a wedge of brie, along with a box of crackers makes an easy snack centerpiece at any party.
Raw fish can be expensive, intimidating, and potentially dangerous to work with at home, but veggie sushi is fun and easy to make, and costs just pennies per serving. These basic instructions are a good place to start. Make custom specialty rolls and dipping sauces to create a sushi platter as impressive as it is inexpensive.
A simple cupcake adds the right amount of indulgence to a party centered on finger foods. This recipe can make regular cupcakes or minis that are easy to pop in your mouth in one bite. Decorate them for the event to be extra festive.
These basic sugar cookies make a cheap and easy dessert that can be turned into themed, shaped goodies for any occasion. For instance, use an oval-shaped cookie cutter and decorate football cookies with icing laces.