When I worked in television, we had so many potlucks! Goodbye party potlucks, new employee potlucks, birthday potlucks, baby shower potlucks, “it’s Tuesday” potlucks … you name it, we had it. They got pretty pricey after a while.
The office potluck doesn’t have to strain your food budget. How cool will it be to offer your coworkers something they’ll really enjoy — and your wallet will thank you too!? Bonus? Many of these choices wind up being healthier than more expensive dishes
Inexpensive Office Birthday Parties:
1. Control the portion size of birthday cakes. When it’s your turn to bring the cake, focus on quality over quantity. Serving small slices of birthday cake or cupcakes could start a healthy and frugal tradition.
2. Offer to do the beverages. Cake tastes better with coffee, tea or hot chocolate. By spending a little time providing the beverage service, you can do your part without any great expense. To make it extra special, add some cinnamon or vanilla syrup to the coffee.
Low-Cost Office Breakfasts:
1. Oatmeal, darling! Steel cut oats are one of the cheapest and most nutritious ways to start your day. You can make them at home and heat them up in the microwave with a little added water. Leftovers can be refrigerated and enjoyed all week. Take some toppings like brown sugar, honey, raisins and nuts.
2. Serve juice by the pitcher. Individual bottles of juice are expensive and create a lot of garbage. It’s cheaper to make frozen juice by the pitcher, and people will probably consume smaller portions and calories. Even better, supplement it with seasonal fresh fruit for more savings plus dietary fiber. A farmer’s market could yield 5 pounds of oranges for pennies a serving!
3. Cut baked goods into bite-size pieces. If you’ve ever been stuck trying to figure out what to do with an over-sized muffin, you’ll appreciate the wisdom of cutting baked goods into bite-size pieces. You save money by serving more people with less food, and it’s easier to make an attractive display.
4. Dish out some yogurt. Put the yogurt in a large bowl. Surround it with smaller bowls of toppings such as nuts, granola, and fresh fruit. You could even make the granola yourself as an easy, healthy option.
Affordable Lunch and After-Work Gatherings:
1. Offer to bring the beverages. There are many easy punch recipes that cost very little to make and will serve a large group. Buy soft drinks in large containers rather than individual bottles to save more money.
2. Learn some easy vegetarian recipes. Many vegetarian dishes are cheaper to prepare than versions with meat. Experiment with different recipes for bean chili or whip up a spinach lasagna.
3. Assemble your own vegetable platters. You can wind up paying a high price for the convenience of store-bought platters. To save money, assemble your own assortments. If you’re short on time, you can minimize chopping by using ingredients like baby carrots, snow peas, and grape tomatoes.
4. Focus on the presentation. Low-budget dishes can still look festive. Think about the colors and use attractive serving pieces. Liven up your tacos with red or yellow peppers. Use tri-color pasta to make simple salads look inviting.
5. Cash in your coupons. Take advantage of all the free coupon offers online. Collect the coupons on take-out menus from restaurants near your office, and you may be able to get that second pizza for free.
6. Enjoy the leftovers. Keep bags and containers on hand to encourage people to take leftovers home or eat them for lunch the next day. Everyone will save money, and it’s better than letting food spoil in the refrigerator.
Look at that! You’re going to rock the next office potluck without going broke, eating garbage or making yourself nuts!