Feeding a Party of 40 People on a Budget

How to Feed(1)*warning – this is not my healthiest post!  However, it is one of my most frugal!

We invited about 90 people to Jack’s birthday.  Believe me, I was not expecting to have a party for 90 people and in all honesty we didn’t realize there were that many invites until we did a final count before sending out the invitations.  This was a bit of a blessing in disguise.  When you invite such a large amount of people to show up to an event on New Year’s Day there is a very good chance that most people cannot make it.  So we offset the freak-out of “oh my goodness what if all of these people show up” with the comforting stream of no RSVPs.  And honestly that was the only thing that made getting so many no’s bearable.

We initially planned to have the event catered by a local market.  We were looking to get baked ziti, mac and cheese, salads, and a few desserts.  When I totaled the bill it came to well over $400 which was more than we were able to spend AND did not include drinks or cake!  I decided that the only way we were going to be able to feed everyone was to make the food ourselves.

We did most of our shopping at Aldi market.  Aldi is an international chain that is known for it’s low prices and high quality.  The company is able to lower their prices by cutting out things like bagging, stocking shelves, and name brands. Even their carts require a $0.25 deposit to encourage shoppers to return them after use.

By shopping smart I was able to afford everything I needed to feed a party of 40 with PLENTY of leftovers (we are still working our way through them).  Here is a quick list of savings:

Tortellini with Pesto:
Catering Price for 12 people $35.00
Almost home-made for 40 people $8.94

Five bags of tortilini, one jar of pesto, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese

Five bags of tortellini, one jar of pesto, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese

Mac and Cheese:
Catering Price for 10 people $35.00
Almost home-made for 40 people $10.34

Six boxes of mac and cheese

Six boxes of mac and cheese

Macaroni Salad:
Catering Price for 12 people $25.00
Almost home-made for 40 people $4.97

The boxes of pasta salad

The boxes of pasta salad

Baked Ziti:
Catering Price for 10 people $35.00
Home-made for 40 people (with tons of leftovers) $42.97
I bought five boxes of ziti and used one from home.  I cooked the ziti al dente, mixed it with ricotta cheese and tomato sauce and layered it with mozzarella cheese and Parmesan. I had to bake these for over an hour to get them completely cooked through.

Red Roasted Potatoes:
Catering Price for 10 people $30.00
Home-made for 40 people $11.96
I used 4 bags of red potatoes, home grown and dried basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roasted for 30 minutes at 450 degrees.

How did you save money over the holidays?

This post may be linked up to a party near you! Check out the list of Link Up Parties I attend.

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7 Responses to Feeding a Party of 40 People on a Budget

  1. Jessica L. January 11, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    We have an Aldi by us and it really is a great store. The baking items are not always the best, but it is great for frozen vegetables, and salad produce.

    • Angela January 11, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

      You know, I’ve heard that about the baking items there. I bought olive oil once that I was not that thrilled with, but I also bought vanilla extract that was just as good as a name brand. I tend to use white whole wheat flour, and organic sugar so I end up buying those at other stores anyway. Have you tried any baking items in particular that you were not happy with?

  2. Hope January 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Love the concept of frugal Fridays. One thing I have yet to master the cutting back spending and using coupons. I’m always looking for a bargain, but never quite sure where to look, then I just give up out of frustration and spend more than I need to or go over budget. not good. looking forward to learning some tips. Following…

    • Angela January 11, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

      I’m glad you like it! Honestly it took me over a month of learning about couponing before I was able to really do it with success. The most important thing is to make lists and take it slow. Once you do it and save 70%, you will be hooked! The down side is that it really does take time and effort. I fell out of practice during the holidays and ended up spending more than I had planned. Hopefully these posts will help you get there. I have a couponing tutorial (http://www.workingonworkingmom.com/how-to-extreme-coupon-part-one/) that may help you get started.

  3. Laurie Jenkins January 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    Maybe next year’s post will be your healthiest as well as your most frugal 😉

    • Angela January 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      That’s the plan! I think by this time next year I will be a master of the healthy and the frugal!

  4. Michal Stawicki January 21, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    I’m impressed by your resourcefulness. I have no idea about cooking (I can make boiled eggs), but I’m very good at reading the numbers. I salute you!
    As to how I saved money over holidays… My wife is an excellent cook. She made 90% of meals. The quality is better than the market food and it’s more healthy, too. The raw ingredients are usually less spoiled by chemistry. And we bought most of them on local market.
    We also bought most of the gifts through the Internet about one month in advance.
    Michal Stawicki recently posted…My latest ebook, “Master Your Time in 10 Minutes A Day” launches soon!My Profile

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