:::: MENU ::::

Frugal Potluck Recipes


Hi Friends!

I hope your weeks are going well!

I wanted to pop in today to crowd-source some frugal/budget-friendly potluck recipes! At our kids’ school, they’re having a teacher appreciation luncheon next week and I signed up to bring a dessert item. And in a couple weeks we have a family-friend’s BBQ that we’ll be attending. The friends are providing the main dish, but everyone is asked to bring a side or dessert.

In thinking about my normal “crowd favorites”, I realized that they all seem to have one thing in common…they’re not very frugal! They may be tasty and, in some cases, extremely easy to put together (I have a layered dip people rave about that is SO EASY!). BUT, there are so many different ingredients and/or the ingredients are expensive enough that I find a single dish to run upwards of $10-15. In looking at our new grocery budget ($150/week max, but I’m trying to stick to closer to $100/week), I really cannot justify spending up to $15 on a single dessert or side item. At home, I could scrape up an entire meal for our family of 4 on that amount! Why on earth would I spend that much on a single side dish?

So I thought I’d consult with the experts….YOU!!!

Do you have any frugal potluck recipes that you’d be willing to share in the comments (or link to recipes online)?

Just for fun, I want to share a link for a dessert people go crazy over! Part of it could be homemade instead of store-bought (e.g., dough), but if all store-bought, it tends to run me about $10 or so. It’s always a favorite, but not necessarily a very frugal one! (Picture credit from this website).


  • Reply CJ |

    Rice Krispy treats. Super easy, inexpensive and people love them! Rice Krispies, butter and marshmallows. I make them all the time and they are generally the first ones gone at the pot luck. Recipe is usually on the box.

    • Reply Ashley |

      So genius! An incredibly quick, easy, and frugal crowd-pleasing treat! I love rice crispy treats! Don’t know why I’ve never thought of doing this!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Yes! Breads/muffins can be so cheap and are so tasty when homemade! I love the idea of the french toast bake, too!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Mmmm, these sound incredible! A good plug to do homemade, too! I’m one of those weirdos who isn’t a big chocolate person (I have a sweet tooth, but not so much with chocolate). As a result, I rarely make brownies. But if I did, I’d almost certainly do so from a boxed mix. But homemade is much cheaper and really doesn’t take much additional time!

    • Reply Ashley |

      The dip is one my mother-in-law taught me, I’ve never had a recipe for it. It’s SO STINKIN’ EASY though!
      Layer (starting on bottom): refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheese, and you can top with jalapeños (or some people prefer black olives). I usually do half jalapeño and leave the other half with just cheese. The secret my MIL taught me was to use some taco seasoning mixed in with the sour cream layer. Really takes the dish to the next-level! Make sure it can sit in the fridge for a couple hours for all the flavors to meld before serving. Serve with a bag of tortilla chips.
      This has always been my go-to, as people love it and it couldn’t be any easier. But with all the different ingredients, it can be quite costly for a simple dip!

  • Reply Katie |

    Not really a dessert, but I had to bring a dish to a housewarming. Long story, but I was kind of annoyed as it was pretty much demanded. Out of spite, I guess, I wanted to pick the cheapest thing I could think of. I made deviled eggs! A dozen eggs were like $1.29 and I already had (but if not, could do store brand) mayo and spicy brown mustard which is my simple go-to recipe. A little salt, a little paprika (always have!) and so cheap and easy. (Especially since hard boiled eggs in the instant pot are the easiest thing ever!)

    • Reply Ashley |

      SO smart! My husband is obsessed with the instant pot hard-boiled eggs! That’s crazy that they basically demanded you bring a dish to a housewarming party! Kind of rude!

  • Reply Laura |

    Bake a batch of cookies. If you do something simple like peanut butter or snicker doodle it shouldn’t be too expensive.

  • Reply Margann34 |

    Potato salad and pasta salad are usually cheap but require some prep. For deserts, home made cookies, brownies, and cobblers are crowd favorites and cheap if made from scratch. Bread is cheap to buy/bake. Home made salsa using canned or fresh tomatoes plus a couple bags of tortilla chips or homemade hummus plus some carrots/celery for dipping is cheap and quickly made in the food processor. You should be able to make all of these fairly cheaply if you keep it simple.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Cobbler is a great idea! It’s quick and easy to make and typically very cheap (plus, totally delicious!)

  • Reply Eva |

    Technically, if you are all going to the potluck, then you ARE feeding your family for the 10/15 bucks that the dish you are bringing cost you…

  • Reply Kyle |

    Apps: Corn and cucumber “dip!” If you want a hefty amount for guests, drain two cans of whole sweet corn, dice two English cucumbers (or regular – whatever is on sale!) into pieces similar to the size of a kernel of corn, place in a bowl and add a packet of ranch or dill dry seasoning, mix and serve with tortilla scoops! I usually find corn when it’s on sale for $0.60/can, cucumbers are usually $2 or under, seasoning is typically $1.50 and chips don’t *have* to be scoops, so whatever the cheapest tortilla chip is in the store! The whole thing will probably run you about $7 🙂

    Another “dip” I love to make is quinoa (cooked in chicken or veggie stock with a sprinkle of garlic salt in the water), mixed with diced cucumbers and tomatoes, and feta (or a flavored feta if you want to get fancy). served with tortilla chips as well. That seems to be a crowd pleaser and can be made with items on hand or items that are frequently discounted at the grocery store! A little bit of dry quinoa goes a long way and this is a great side dish to have at home, so if you happen to make extra it definitely won’t go to waste.

    • Reply Kyle |

      And for a dessert, lemon cookies! They are half homemade, half store-bought! Grab a box of lemon cake mix, and mix in 2 large eggs, 1/3 cup veggie oil (or whatever you have on hand as long as it isn’t olive oil!), and 1 tsp lemon or lemon extract. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for about 20 mins. Preheat oven to 375* and start rolling the dough into teaspoonful balls – coat these in confectioners sugar and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake about 8 mins, or until the bottom of the cookie is lightly browned. Let cool for 5 mins on the baking sheet and voila! Allrecipes.com has the instructions as well!

  • Reply Katie |

    Lemon squares are a really cheap dessert to bring. Plus, I always have the ingredients on hand. A muffin or quickbread is good. For a side, a broccoli salad, homemade mac n cheese, cowboy caviar (dip w black beans, corn, and a few other random items), twice-baked potatoes… I forgot about deviled eggs, that’s a great idea.

So, what do you think ?