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Old 08-25-2009, 06:57 PM   #1
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Post Inexpensive, Easy, (yet impressive) Potluck Ideas?

Two of my sons play Pop Warner, and every Wed. night throughout the season there is a potluck at the field after practice. They are on different teams, so I have to send something for both teams. I am so stressed out trying to come up with ideas since I don't like to cook to begin with, plus I try to keep my food budget low. To make matters more complicated, my husband coaches one of the teams and he wants me to roll out something impressive every week! I should also add that many families are VERY generous with their contributions. My oldest son and I do not go to the practices, so we are still eating a different dinner at home! HELP!!!!!!!! Oh, and whatever I make has to go to practice with my husband and sit for 2.5 hours, so it has to be something that can be kept adequately hot/cold for that period of time.
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Old 08-25-2009, 07:31 PM   #2
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When you say some of the families are very generous, I picture a bunch of 11 year old boys chowing down on steak and lobster on the football field.
I wouldn't worry about impressing kids this age, or their parents.
Anything that has some meat, carbs and lots of cheese, they will inhale.

Inexpensive, yet impressive kind of has me stumped.
When I cook for large groups, I always go for ziti and meatballs or some kind of chicken bake. No one has every complained.

I make this in the crock pot- so good
1 large can (19 ounces) enchilada sauce
6 boneless chicken breast halves
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 small can sliced black olives
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can (4 ounces) chopped mild chile peppers
16 to 20 corn tortillas
16 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Cook chicken and shred. Mix soup, olives, chile peppers, and onions. Cut tortillas in wedges. Layer Crock Pot with sauce, tortillas, soup mix, chicken and cheese all the way to top, ending with cheese on top. Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 7 hours.
Serves 8 to 10
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Old 08-25-2009, 07:36 PM   #3
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If there's a place to plug in a crockpot, you can do all kinds of things. I've got lots of great tasting, inexpensive crockpot meals on my blog.

If you can't use a crockpot, how about Pasta Salad? You could add grilled chicken to it too, because the chicken is good cold. Or Turkey Italian Sausage and Tortellini salad It's easy and good, also filling.
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Old 08-25-2009, 07:42 PM   #4
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My mom always makes this for a pot luck and I make it for myself - very easy! Buy a package of Bear Creek Creamy Potato Soup (I buy it at Wal-Mart Supercenter or the Christmas Tree Shop but I bet it's sold at other grocery stores, too). It's in a green package. Cook the soup according to directions (all you do is add it to boiling water). Then, add either canned creamed corn or some frozen corn to make corn chowder. It is delicious and everyone always thinks it's homemade and wants the recipe! It's fast, easy, inexpensive, and yummy! Plus, it should stay warm for a couple of hours if it's a warm day.
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Old 08-25-2009, 07:55 PM   #5
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You can try deviled eggs...most kids and adults that i know love them and eggs are super cheap...add in a little miracle whip, salt, pepper, mustard, onions (fresh or minced) sweet relish if you prefer...splash a little paprika and voila. You can make a ton for cheap. This is a favorite of ours in picnic/potluck situations. Its not really a main dish but you always need sides and it is a protien.
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Old 08-25-2009, 07:57 PM   #6
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Meat, just plain meat, you can never go wrong with meat. So many people bring a pasta dish that meat always goes over well.

My favorite buy a small (2-3 lb) ham when it's on sale cook with a glaze then slice thin and serve with dinner rolls. There's never any left but it always seems to stretch to the end. The same goes for a small pork roast or roast chicken. I've gotten them for under $10 on sale.

Another easy meat dish - buy chicken legs and bake with a marinade or glaze.

My favorite glaze:

1/4 c of chili sauce
1/4 c of maple syrup
1 T of soy
1/4 tsp of dry mustard
1/4 cup of chopped onion
For a little optional heat/spice add 1/8 tsp of Cayenne Pepper

I usually use this much glaze for 2 - 3 lbs of chicken legs but you can stretch it.

Coat chicken and cook at 350 until cooked through (about 1 hr).

If you wrap in foil most will stay hot for a long time.
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Old 08-25-2009, 08:42 PM   #7
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How about something simple the kids will enjoy like hot dogs in the crockpot and send buns and condiments along with bags of chips and a bag of apples! Or, make up a batch of oven fried chicken and send with mac and cheese in the crockpot, or make sub sandwiches and send condiments and lettuce and tomato along with some big pickles and chips!
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Old 08-25-2009, 09:07 PM   #8
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Here are a couple of thread that might have something for you....they are all budget minded recipes:




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Old 08-25-2009, 09:15 PM   #9
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If everyone is so generous I assume most main dish type stuff is covered. Could you send in dessert or a fruit salad sometimes? Does anyone have to supply drinks? Can you do that one week? That might help change things up some.

Potato salad is easy and cheap, pasta dishes are simple and cheap and easy to keep hot too.

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Old 08-25-2009, 09:26 PM   #10
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Meatballs in spaghetti sauce and small rolls for meatball sandwiches. This can be boiling hot in a disposable tin foil pan covered with alum. foil so a few hours later would still be warm.

Another option is can you drive it over yourself toward the end of practice if there is something you specifically want hot. I was originally thinking of a huge tray of chicken nuggets served with some home made honey mustard sauce...easy kid friendly finger food. (not very impressive though).
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Old 08-25-2009, 10:00 PM   #11
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If you have an IKEA near you their Swedish meatballs and sauce mix is delicious and less than $10. Don't know how many you have to feed, but they can be done in the crock pot.
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Old 08-25-2009, 11:27 PM   #12
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My go to pot luck meal is Russian Chicken served over noodles. It's easily doubled and can be made in a crock pot or the oven. It originally calls for 3 lbs bone in chicken, but I use big bags of chicken tenders (from BJ's, Costco, Sam's Club, etc) to save money.

3 lbs boneless chicken tenders
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 small jar apricot jam
1 8 oz bottle of Russian or Thousand Island salad dressing.

Mix the onion soup mix, jam and salad dressing well and pour over chicken, toss to coat. Bake at 350 degrees, covered for 15 minutes and then uncover and cook 15-20 minutes more. Serve over noodles or with rice.

Can be cooked in the crock pot on low for 6 hours.
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Old 08-27-2009, 03:03 AM   #13
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How about Roast Chicken Legs? I've not made this particular recipe, but I love this site and the other things I've made have been fantastic.


Homemade Mac and Cheese is always popular, but perhaps not impressive.

Cupcakes are cheap and easy to make look impressive.

Meatloaf... to make it look impressive you could form it into a ring to bake it, and then fill the middle with mashed potatoes. Not sure how well it would stay hot.

As for keeping stuff hot, my DMIL is a pro. She has to take meals to the field for her farming husband and son. She will wrap the hot, hot, pan in foil, then in a big, thick bathtowel. Then put layers of newspaper over the top and put it all into a cardboard box. you would be surprised how hot stuff stays.. but I'm not sure about 2 1/2 hours.

Fruit salad/trays always go over well and easy to stick with a cooler, or with an ice pack in the same method above.

Do you have a bread machine? If so, people love bread! Easiest is just to bake a few loaves, slice, wrap it up and send with butter. Or you could form the dough into rolls, bake in a round pand. Very impressive, easy, cheap!

Sloppy joes in a crock pot. or taco meat in a crock pot. or pulled pork or bar-b-qu beef in a crock pot... send buns and you are set.

Sandwiches usually go over well, cut in half, triangle way. Could even be peanut butter and jelly some weeks, if peanuts are allowed.

I will keep thinking!

Last edited by Katy Belle; 08-27-2009 at 03:38 AM. Reason: another thought
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