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Old 11-17-2008, 03:56 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
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Default Good menu items to feed 8-10 people inexpensively.

Some friends and I are having informal gatherings and we're always wondering what to make. Most of us on are a budget (We DON'T have a lot of money). First thoughts are pizza or spaghetti. What else?
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Old 11-17-2008, 04:19 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
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Jambalaya has always been one of my staples for that. Or gumbo.
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Old 11-17-2008, 04:35 PM
 
Location: Durham
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Pasta, casseroles or stews.

You've already hit pasta with the spaghetti...THL made an excellent suggestion with Jambalaya...I'd venture into casserole territory that includes pasta - things like lasagna, stuffed shells or baked ziti.
Beef stew can be made on the cheap, as can chili.
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Old 11-17-2008, 04:45 PM
 
Location: Floribama
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Here's a recipe for Ham Casserole that I got from one of my grandmothers friends. It's cheap to fix and is good.

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup diced ham

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 package macaroni cooked (12 oz)

1 cup milk

1 can cream mushroom soup

1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat; add green pepper and onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add ham and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Remove from heat; add pepper, macaroni, milk, soup, and 3/4 cup of the cheese. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish; sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 10 minutes.

Enjoy!
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Old 11-17-2008, 04:47 PM
 
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I always make a big pasta bake using Ziti pasta, spaghetti sauce, ground beef, onion, bell pepper, chedder cheese & parmasean cheese. It makes a big casserole dish full.

Get your skillet out and brown your ground beef w/seasoning salt, black pepper, garlic powder add in your diced onion, diced bell pepper (I use the diced frozen seasoning blend) brown and drain off grease. Boil your Ziti pasta until done, get your baking dish out and spread down spaghetti sauce and then add your ziti pasta then add more sauce on top of pasta then add your ground beef mixture then add more sauce then more pasta. Repeat until dish is full. Top with shredded chedder cheese & sprinkle on some parmesean cheese. Bake 350 until hot and bubbly. If I know alot of people are coming over I use 2 boxes of Ziti pasta and 2 big bottles of spaghetti sauce.

Meatballs are great and not to expensive. Make your own or get the big bag of them already made and put into your crockpot if you got one add your favorite spaghetti sauce you could make meatball subs or just make meatballs or put in some sweet & sour sauce instead of spaghetti sauce and serve on a platter sweet & sour meatballs.

You could do a Taco Bar and put out a big platter of cooked ground beef, chop up some lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, salsa let them all make there own tacos. Not to expensive.

Soup Bar with breadsticks. Make a big pot of soup or 2 different types like a vegetable & beef stew serve w/croutons or oyster soup crackers or have everyone make a soup or and someone make a big salad and have soup & salad. Cheap and good on a cold day.
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Old 11-17-2008, 06:24 PM
 
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To make things look fun...

Soup or stew in a bread bowl

Pumpkin soup in a pumpkin

Stew, or sausages and gravy, in a bowl-shaped big Yorkshire Pudding

Toad in the Hole
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Old 11-17-2008, 06:30 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
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Enchiladas.
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Old 11-17-2008, 07:03 PM
 
Location: Floral Park, NY
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Here's a good one to make, especially if you get some boneless/skinless chicken breast when it's on sale:

Chicken Piccata by Giada DeLaurentis
Chicken Piccata Recipe : Giada De Laurentiis : Food Network

I put a twist on it - when almost done cooking, add some fresh spinach and wilt. Remove the chicken and spinach, and add some heavy cream to the pan & simmer it. Then, toss with thin spaghetti and some Pecorino Romano.

This meal comes out delicious, and your guests will think you've been cooking all day...but it's really easy (the chicken freezes well, too).
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Old 11-18-2008, 04:35 AM
 
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Jambalaya is a favorite; we get to use a lot of onions, green bell peppers, some mild/medium hot chili peppers, lots of tomatoes, and rice with our homemade pork sausage and ham. Sometimes I'll use our beef soup bones for a cooking stock and the beef shreds that come off the bones.

Cuban Black Bean Soup, with rice. Simple to make, the combination of black beans, onions, vegetables with a bit of spicy sausage served over rice is good tasting and filling.

Congee, or Jook: a slow reduction of rice, where it's simmered down until it's a thick soup. We add bits of vegetables and pieces of meat along with our spices. Like Jambalaya, it's a great way to use up leftovers and it's more of a cooking style than a specific recipe.

Rissotto: not very dissimilar from Congee, except the grains of rice are kept in shape and we can use cheese to thicken and enrichen the mixture.

We put up a lot of our tomatoes each year as a basic cooking item ... so we have lots of high quality/no preservatives minimally processed tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices (from our herb garden) at very low cost compared to commercial processed sauces (in jars or cans). Additionally, all of our cooking is very low salt, which I believe is healthier than the commercial processed items. Very convenient to use; for example, I cooked up a batch of shrimp last night which were lightly sauteed with sweated onions/garlic in EVOO and butter, then simmered for a couple of minutes in our basic tomato sauce. The key is to use lower heat and not overcook the shrimp to keep them tender instead of hard cooked to a chewy texture. This will also work for fish; we can make quite the meal out of catfish chunks or rockfish or bottom fish.

Also, buying bulk Goma Wakame ... if you have a decent Asian grocery store in your area, is cheap. My wife and I were appalled at seeing $5.95 "seaweed salad" at the Japanese restaurants in our region ... made from about 60 cents worth of pre-packed seaweed salad served over a bit of iceberg lettuce with some rice vinegar and sesame oil.

It's worth looking at the diets of the macro-biotic folks. They have a lot of nutrition without a lot of cost for many items, if you buy the basic items and not a lot of prepared food stuffs. We've been buying asian noodles, soba, rice noodles, etc., for significantly much less money than the pasta one finds in the supermarket. When we have the time, making pasta from scratch is also much much less expensive than store-bought although we don't have a pasta maker, so it's all mixed and rolled out by hand, then coarsely cut into thin strips.

Since we raise most of our own potatoes, we have the luxury of eating heirloom varieties. Some of the non-commercial ones have much more flavor, and we can select the ones that are better bakers or boilers that grow well in our soil. It varies from year to year what grows better and is more productive in the patch that year, but we can put up a lot of good eating very cheaply.
This year, we sold most of our potato production at the Farmer's market as we had a "bumper" crop of thin red skinned yellow fleshed ones; superb boiling potatoes.

Regionally, we've found that going to ethnic markets is much better than the big supermarkets, and worth the time/trip to shop there. Asian and Mexican markets ... while typically less attractive in their store layout and the presentation of their goods, have still got the food items we want. Pasta, rice, beans, unusual vegetables, baking flour, vinegar, corn masa, seafood ... all in bulk and much less expensive than the fancy supermarkets.
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Old 11-18-2008, 06:16 AM
 
Location: N of citrus, S of decent corn
16,542 posts, read 19,145,661 times
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If you get tired of casseroles and pasta, how about a couple of roast chickens? Stovetop stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, etc.
OR:
Loaded baked potatoes: Provide different toppings like chili, cheese, bacon, etc.
Breakfast for dinner: Pancakes, or design your own omlettes.

Last edited by gentlearts; 11-18-2008 at 06:25 AM..
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