Let’s be honest, moms rarely have extra time on their hands to plan a party, which is why I like meal courses that are no-muss, no fuss. Here are a few awesome dishes that I turn to when I need to feed a bunch of people on a budget and with minimal time and energy.
1. Crock-Pot BBQ Ribs
Busy moms know that there’s something to be said for slow-cookers. You can whip up some pretty delicious meals for the whole family with minimal effort. Just about anything can be made in a slow-cooker, from a whole hen to a chocolate cake. Since I don’t own a meat smoker, and a “low heat for a long period” approach is the best way to get tender baby back ribs, I turn to my crockpot. This recipe over at The Country Cook is essentially the same method that my mother taught me 20-something years ago, and it only takes a few ingredients and minimal prep time.
2. Cheeseburger Pie
Okay, we all know burgers are a staple of backyard barbeques, and for good reason. They’re delicious, versatile, and a classic that everyone can agree on. Cheeseburger pie is to burgers what Frito Pie is to tacos. Easy, not much prep, and feeds a few hungry mouths. Most recipes just call for pie crust, ground beef, cheese, onions, spices, Worcestershire sauce, and panko/Bisquick/bread crumbs. My picky eaters really liked Spend With Pennies’ bacon cheeseburger pie.
3. Walking Tacos
Speaking of Frito Pie…
If Taco Bell has taught us anything, it’s that Doritos make amazing taco shells. This is probably the easiest dish in this article to make, if only for an appetizer, since everyone makes their own. All you need are several small bags of Fritos or Doritos chips, a few of your favorite taco kits, and some hungry bellies. Everyone can take a bag of chips, crunch them up a bit before opening, then add the toppings they want and eat out of the bag with a fork.
4. Fruit Kabobs
This one is unimaginably easy, and I prefer not to do it in a flag shape so everyone gets blueberries. All you need are bamboo skewers (
$20.99 $4.99) for kabobs, blueberries, marshmallows, and red fruits like cubed watermelon, strawberries, or cherries (the skewer should also be used to push out the pits). You don’t have to line up ingredients on the skewer in any particular order, either, so it’s a good way to zone out when you’re already tired, busy, and planning a cookout. If you want to get really creative, you can add other things like small Rice Crispy squares, fudge, banana slices, etc.
5. Patriotic Berry Trifle
A trifle is a little like the Godzilla of parfaits. It’s basically just angel food cake, fruit, pudding, and optional Cool-Whip, but it’s meant to feed a lot of people. You start by making your angel food cake in a sheet cake pan, then make your vanilla pudding and slicing up berries. Cut the cake into cubes when it cools and build your trifle with layers of cake/fruit/pudding. This recipe over at Kraft is a perfect example of a quick and easy, yet bountiful, trifle. You’ll need a glass trifle bowl, which usually run about $40, but Amazon is offering this trifle bowl for about half price. (
6. Antipasto Platter
Antipasto is, traditionally, a tray of meats, cheeses, olives, anchovies, grapes, and other deli foods meant to be served as appetizers. Antipasto literally means “before the meal.” You can get creative here also, with meats and cheeses being in slices and/or cubes, different fruits, veggies and peppers. You can add breads, crackers and dip, and you don’t have to get super fancy with your presentation, either. All you really need is a good appetizer serving tray (
$29.99 $18.05), a box of toothpicks, and some napkins. The Walmart Deli has a wide variety of meats, cheeses, pasta/potato salads, and other appetizers. It really doesn’t get much easier than antipasto, unless you toss a bag of salad in a bowl… But it’ll still make your guests happy and they’ll never know it wasn’t made-to-order (unless you tell them).
7. Sorbet Punch
This one is a classic that you’ve probably had at some point in your life. Both fruity, fizzy, and effortless, it’ll be a hit at any get-together. It’s as simple as choosing any flavors of sorbet (rainbow is a good choice for punch), scooping it into a punch bowl until it’s about 1/3 full, and adding a lemon-lime soft drink (Sprite, 7-Up or Sierra Mist). If you’re worried about the sorbet melting too fast, these can be made as-needed in guests’ glasses and served with straws and spoons.
8. Homemade Guacamole
Guacamole seems to be a constant staple as an appetizer for summer parties, and for good reason. Not only is the stuff delicious, it’s also extremely versatile and can be used as both a dip and a topping for the main course – have you even truly lived if you’ve never tried guac in a burger? Adding some tomatoes, onions and some spicy peppers really jazzes up this dish. For the perfect, 10-minute process, I like to use this recipe from inspiredtaste.net so that I can get this awesome side dish done and out of the way.
I hope this helps someone and that you have a wonderful holiday!
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