Lets talk food!
I will admit to you straight up – I have always been that person who hovers by the food table at any event or party. I LOVE food! And when I throw a party I hate for anyone to go hungry. But making sure everyone is fed and happy doesn’t mean I need to break the budget.
Something I also see a lot at kids birthday parties is food wastage!
It pains me so much, to see so many over catered parties. Beautifully prepared food, presented so nicely and you know hours of (stressful) grocery shopping, chopping, cooking, frying, baking went into creating the delicious food laid out at the party, only for so much of it to get wasted! (Insert party mums tired, disappointed face here)
There is no need to have copious amounts of food on arrival, plus food platters for lunch, plus sweets, chips, lollies and cake, oh and then there are the parents platters! SLOW DOWN NOW!!!!!
At the end of the day, kids don’t eat much. (Well not in one party anyway.)
Most parties are only in a 2-3 hour time frame and during that time kids are busy running around playing games with their friends and are very distracted. So trust me when I say – DON’T GO OVERBOARD ON FOOD!!!! (Sorry for shouting but I just wanted to make sure you were listening.)
Anyway… Here are my top 5 tips to help you cut back on your party catering costs as well as help you to save on food waste. Enjoy!!
1 – PARTY LUNCH BOX
This is seriously my all time favourite!
Party lunch boxes are great because you can prep in advance.
You individually portion each lunch box and then encourage all the kids to sit down on a rug or at a little table to eat their portions all at once. It helps to create a moment of peace in the madness of parties and gives structure to your party. ( I love a bit of structure and believe it or not so do kids!)
It also stops food wastage because you are making just enough portions. Oh and did I mention it helps cut down on you hanging in the kitchen, so you can actually enjoy the party too?
Here is an example of the party lunch box I use to fill with food for kids under 6 parties. You can buy the boxes online or from most discount stores. Alternately you can use large paper bags from the super market. Or get super creative and use little buckets or anything that can hold some food! Decorating them can be fun too if you are that way inclined!
And don’t forget to make sure you are firm with getting rsvps back for your party so you make the right amount of party lunch boxes.
Here is a list of food I use in my party lunch boxes
1 x Sandwich – ( Or a wrap or sushi – the choice is yours).
I often use cookie cutters to make the sandwich into shapes and it looks fun to eat!
1 x cheese stick.
1 x popcorn or pretzels/crackers.
You can use pre packaged or buy the big bags and portion onto paper cups or paper bags to put in the lunch box.
1 x cupcake ( or jelly cup or cookie, muffin or chocolate crackle)1 x fruit cup or fruit stick
I just use the clear drinking cups and fill with chopped fruit .
2 – JUGS, JUGS, JUGS
Serving drinks in jugs or drink dispensers is much more cost effective than the individual juice or cordial packs. Use throw away cups with the children names written on them to help encourage the kids to re use their cup each time. Alternately, give them keep cups with their names on them so they can take home as a party favour instead of a lolly bag!
3 – THE 4 PLATTER RULE
Have you heard the 4 platter rule? Well, I made it up so don’t feel bad if this is the first time you heard it!
This is a great way to focus on what you need to buy, create , cook and serve. It keeps you on track, on budget and stops you from going overboard.
This is how it works…
Platter 1 – Fruit – You can make it look as pretty as you like. You can put the fruit on skewers or just make a nice fruit salad. The choice is yours. Don’t buy too much fruit though. Kids will only eat an average of 3- 4 pieces each ( unless your serving strawberries… kids go nuts for strawberries!)
For a party of 10 kids I recommend – 3 apples sliced, 3 oranges cut into quarters, 2 punnets of strawberries cut in half, 1 half water melon sliced into triangles, some grapes, and either some pineapple or 2 bananas sliced. (whichever is cheaper. Also keep in mind banana can go brown when sitting out for a while)
Platter 2 – Sweets and chips – This platter is great for fairy bread, jelly cups, chips, pretzels, popcorn, lollies, crackers and cheese. My tip is to only choose 3 things on this list. You definitely don’t need to serve all! (Remember we are saving money people! Feel free to even skip this platter if you want to really stay on a low budget)
Platter 3 – Main food – This platter can have sausage rolls and pies, pizza, sandwiches, sushi (can be a bit expensive though), bbq sausages on bread, mini hamburgers, fried rice in cups, nuggets and chips, fish fingers and chips hotdogs etc. Just be sure to choose 1 type of ‘main food’ to be served on this platter.
Platter 4 – Cake! – Obviously cake does not have to be served on a platter, but cake, cupcakes etc are your 4th ‘platter’ / final serving of food at the party
4 – ADULTS, SHMADULTS…
I am sure most mums and dads will agree that when we attend our children’s friends parties, we don’t expect to be fed. Obviously this is a different story if you have been invited to a family event or if it is a specific lunch/ dinner or bbq event (if this is the case I say go with the 4 platter rule).
There is no need to create a whole seperate menu for the adults. I recommend (especially parties for young kids) to just do a small platter of crackers, dips and chips. And something to drink like soft drink or water. Most mums and dads will usually pick from the kids platters anyway!
5 – KEEP IT SIMPLE
At the end of the day, a small table of snacks followed by a main serve and end with cake will do the trick. Choose foods that are filling and then you won’t need as many snacks (which add up the $$ and get wasted the most). You will also save money if you make things yourself. And remember… the food doesn’t have to look like a 5 star Pinterest party! Kids will not notice!
Filling foods that I recommend, (that will actually get eaten) are – pizzas (Aldi and Coles have frozen pizzas for $3 and I just add extra cheese), sandwiches, mini hamburgers, fish fingers or chicken nuggets and chips (can be frozen or hand made), sausages in bread, sausage rolls and mini quiches.
Keeping the party short and sweet is also a handy tip! 1-2 hours is ideal.
I hope you enjoyed my handy hints! Happy partying!
Oh and happy money/ food wastage saving!