Frugal & Fun Kid's Birthdays: Food & Eats

by Beth Montgomery on March 9, 2010 · 2 comments

in Frugal Cooking, Holidays, Tips & Basics

This is post 3 of 7 in the series Frugal & Fun Kid’s Birthdays.

Parties are always fun, but they can also be a lot of work!   When   you pick a party time, another thing to think about is the food situation.   Will you be serving a meal, like lunch or dinner?   Will you be having appetizers?   What about just cake and drinks?

You’ll quickly find that when it comes to my party planning, it’s all about the theme.   So, pick your theme and have it in mind.   Then use my ideas to launch your own to match your party theme!   Go crazy.   Get creative. Think outside the box and you’ll be the coolest mom (or dad).


Drinks are something you can’t skip.   You have to keep those guests hydrated, so they don’t faint mid-party.   Luckily, drinks are affordable.

  • Skip canned soda and go straight for two liters.
  • Mix-up your own delicious punch (recipe below or search online for one to match your theme)!
  • Make a gallon of tea, kool-aid, or lemonade.

Punch up your beverage selection by making your own ice cubes in fun shapes, colors, and flavors.   Think heart-shaped ice cubes made from pink lemonade or blue-raspberry kook-aid boats. Also find other ways to incorporate your party theme.   Thomas the Train?   Set up your toy track, so the train runs around bevages.   Little Mermaid? Sanitize him first, then drop Flounder in and let him swim in the punch bowl during the party.   Tinkerbell?   Scatter flowers around the table near the cups and drinks.

Frugal Party Punch

    1. 1 liter lemon-lime soda
    2. 1 gallon fruit punch
    3. 1 container orange sherbet

Pour lemon-lime soda and fruit punch, then stir.   Plop scoops of sherbet in and let them float, while the punch gets foamy.   Delicious!

Food & Eats

While drinks are a necessity, food isn’t.   It really depends on where you’re having the party, your schedule, the time everyone arrives, and all the other stuff you’ve planned.

When it comes to saving on food, use coupons and deals, whether you’re heading to a restaurant or cooking it up yourself.   I have to recommend cooking, since it will save you tons, but you can always look for great deals near party time. We ordered pizza’s one year during a great promotion at Pizza Hut.   But when you cook yourself, you can end up with something creative that would have cost you a ton from a caterer and will impress your guests.   You don’t have to be professional chef either.

Of course snacks would be the cheapest way to go.   Be fun. And keep that theme in mind.   Finding Nemo? Try mixing up some Party Mix that includes Pepperidge Farm Goldfish.   Princess or Fairies?   Make edible wands! Or you could go with the healthier version of edible wands that includes less white chocolate and more fruit.

Appetizers can be a bit more expensive, but more filling than snacks. Having a Mexican Fiesta? Turn a bag of tortillas and some ground beef into Taco Cups. Pool party?   Turn deviled eggs into boats!   Plus, appetizers can keep your guests busy early on while others arrive.

When we party at meal time, we tend to almost always cookout (or grill in)!   Stock up on hot dogs and hamburger when they are cheapest near holidays where cook outs are popular, like Independence Day.   Or grab a whole chicken (or a few) when they are $0.88 per pound.   Spice it up by mixing Worcestershire sauce, onions, barbecue sauce, or other great herbs to your burger meat before you make patties.   You can use inexpensive seasonal fruit to make fruit salad for a side.   You can easily go with the traditional frugal cook out sides like chips and potato salad.   Plus, almost everyone loves a cookout.

But, a cookout doesn’t have to be the answer.   Other foods are just at cheap or cheaper.   Unfortunately, I also love messy kids (did picture give me away?), because they are usually unbelievably happy kids.   So, whip up a big batch of pizza dough and let the kids make their own individual pizzas.   Play games while they cook.   Or go for finger foods.   They are typically cheap and delicious, like mini-quiche or pigs-in-a-blanket.

The Cake

It’s all about the cake (or at least it is at my house).   When your kids are too young to notice, make them yourself.   You can use the baby and toddler years to perfect your cake skills, so that when they do notice, you’ll be a pro.   Ady’s first birthday cake was Barney who, unfortunately, resembled an octopus, but two years ago I managed to whip together a guitar shaped cupcake-cake that was quite impressive.

Not creative?   Or artistic?   You don’t have to be.   Use candy and props to decorate your cake instead of icing to make something beautiful.   Or, if it’s totally out of your area of expertise, head to the grocery store.   Many make delicious and cute cakes for cheap.   If you’re looking for something unique or more elaborate, look around you.   In your mom’s group, church, or somewhere, is probably hiding a skilled cake decorator who wouldn’t mind whipping you something fantastic up in her spare time for a lower cost than the pricey bakeries.

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