Birthday Party Food Ideas When You’re on a Budget

There’s nothing worse than turning up to a party and realizing that you were expected to bring some food. Letting the host know what you’re bringing is helpful, but sometimes they aren’t too happy with your menu choices or it clashes with what they had planned and then you end up on the naughty list.   Here are some yummy lunch ideas that won’t break the bank, don’t take hours to prepare, and people will actually want to eat!

Chicken & Bacon Pies

Pastry dough (shop-bought) all you have to do here is roll out your dough slightly thinner than normal so it cooks faster - fills with diced chicken breast & bacon mixed with a little mayo and cheese - bake until golden brown - serve hot with a side salad

Chicken Wraps

Again, shop-bought pastry dough is fine here - put diced chicken breast in a bowl - add a handful of grated cheese, a spoonful of sweet chili sauce, and some taco seasoning if you have it on hand - mix together and spoon into wraps - bake until golden brown  - serve with sour cream & guacamole for dipping!

Cheese & Tomato Pizza Pockets

Buy pre-made pizza dough from the supermarket or make your own - put diced mozzarella and some chopped sundried tomatoes on each piece of dough - roll up and press the edges firmly to seal them closed - brush with olive oil and sprinkle on garlic bread seasoning (makes it taste better!) - bake until golden brown  - oh my gosh, they're so delicious!


Buy pre-made tortilla wraps and take out the freezer (so you don't overcook them) or make your own - if using shop bought tortillas then go ahead and add whatever fillings you like, but I would recommend shredding the cooked chicken and mixing it with BBQ sauce - for homemade tortillas spread a thin layer of butter across one side of each wrap before stacking them on top of each other & cutting into quarters - cook in a dry pan, butter side down first, until crispy (use a plate to help flip them over without spilling the contents) - once done, use a pizza cutter to slice into little triangles and serve with guacamole and sour cream!


These little babies are the star of the show if you're having a few people around - get some dinner rolls (or you could use mini bagels) and slather one side with butter & garlic bread seasoning (again, makes it taste better!) - add thinly sliced beef or chicken (I like using leftover roast meat from the day before), cheese slices and some BBQ sauce in between each roll - bake until golden brown  - voila, an easy finger food idea that everyone will love!


Buy taco shells in bulk from a wholesale store, line them out on a tray and place them in the oven for 5 minutes, serve with your favorite toppings - I like to make my own guacamole so everyone is happy!

Sandwich Kabobs  

Cut up slices of bread into squares (or whatever shape you prefer) put on skewers with cubes of cheese, ham, cucumber sticks, or whatever else takes your fancy, serve with a side of salad or some chips

Pizza Bites

Take 2 rows of cocktail sausages roll up some pizza dough around them & pinch the sides closed, brush with beaten egg then cook in the oven for 15 minutes - delicious!

Mini Quiches

These can be made in advance and frozen, then thawed before cooking - quiche is a great way to use up any leftover vegetables or meats you might have, just make sure the mixture isn’t too wet or they will not hold their shape!

Chicken Nuggets

Buy your favorite pre-made burger patties and cut them up into nugget size pieces - coat in bread crumbs (I like to add a little cajun seasoning too!) and bake for 15 minutes, serve with BBQ sauce or ketchup - yum!

Pigs In A Blanket

Buy some sausages and cocktail sticks then wrap them in pre-made puff pastry and bake for 10 minutes (this is a great snack to make with kids because they can get involved too!)

Cheese & Ham Croissants  

This one takes a bit longer but it's worth it - take ham slices and cheese slices and roll together on a board, then take a croissant and cut in half but do not peel apart - fill up the center with your ham and cheese combination and roll it up as tight as you can (use toothpicks to keep them together) - bake until golden brown

Pizza Pinwheels  

Pizza dough is not hard to make at all so I definitely recommend making your own tortilla wraps if you don't have time for that! Then spread with tomato paste and whatever toppings you like (for these pinwheels I used sliced cucumber, ham, and grated mozzarella cheese) - roll each one up tightly then slice into pinwheels 1cm thick or so - put them on a baking tray brushed with oil and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Tortilla pinwheels

These are so simple to make and are a great way to use up any leftovers you might have - take a tortilla wrap, spread with a thin layer of refried beans (or any other type of bean) then top with shredded chicken, salsa, grated cheese and whatever else takes your fancy - roll it up tightly and slice into 1cm thick rounds, place on a baking tray brushed with oil and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Fruit platter

If you’re really struggling for ideas, or don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, a fruit platter is always a safe option. Buy some pre-cut fruit from your local supermarket or if you have a bit more time on your hands, cut up some fresh fruit yourself. Serve with a tub of natural yogurt or some whipped cream and you’re good to go!

Hot dogs and hamburgers

One of the great things about these party food favorites is that they can be easily adapted to suit any budget. Instead of buying expensive sausages or burgers from the butcher, why not go for a cheaper option like pre-cooked hot dogs or frozen patties? They might not be as tasty, but they’ll do the job in a pinch!

Homemade pizzas

Pizza is always a crowd-pleaser and it’s easy to make a large batch that can be frozen for later. Start by spreading a thin layer of pizza sauce over a pre-made pizza base, then top with whatever ingredients you like. I like to use grilled chicken, bell peppers, and black olives but the possibilities are endless! Once your pizzas are topped, pop them in the oven at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and crispy.

Baked potato wedges

These are another great party food option that can easily be adapted to suit any budget. Start by peeling some potatoes (I would recommend using waxy potatoes like Yukon Gold or red-skinned potatoes) then cut them into wedges. Next, toss the potato wedges in some olive oil, salt, and pepper then bake on a baking tray at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Serve with some sour cream or your favorite dipping sauce.

Grilled cheese

You can never go wrong with grilled cheese, you can buy pre-sliced bread or just cut it yourself. Prepare your favorite cheeses next to some butter and let everyone top their sandwich off to their taste!

Mac and cheese

This is always a popular choice and it’s so easy to make - all you need is some cooked macaroni, a tub of cheese sauce (homemade or shop-bought), and a few tablespoons of milk. Mix everything together in a bowl and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. You could even add some bacon or ham for an extra bit of flavor.

Pasta salad

Another safe option is pasta salad, just combine your favorite cooked noodles with chopped-up vegetables and serve either cold or warmed through. You can even buy a nice Italian salad dressing to replace the cheese sauce in the mac and cheese recipe above!

As you can see there are so many simple party food ideas that won’t break the bank but will be tasty enough to please everyone. Use these suggestions as a starting point for your next birthday party or event - I'm sure your guests will appreciate it!


So there you have it - some simple, affordable party food ideas that will please everyone. Whether you’re looking for something easy like grilled cheese or something a bit more adventurous like tortilla pinwheels, there’s something for everyone in this list! Don’t be afraid to get creative and mix and match different recipes to come up with your own unique menu. I hope these ideas help make your next party a success!