This is teacher appreciation week at my son's school. Each day, a different grade's parents are to bring food for a potluck to appreciate the staff and teachers. I signed up for salad, but it didn't look like there were many signups. So, last minute, I signed up for a couple more things. It wasn't clear if we were supposed to be there during the potluck or not (turns out, not). We did drive down anyway because we'd forgotten to drop off a couple of items, and that gave us the time to say hi to our little guy at lunch and have lunch together anyway.
I apologize for not having any pictures, but it didn't occur to me.
The following is an example of how you can feed people frugally - and the more work you are willing to put in, the cheaper it can be. I made bean salad, turkey and ham sandwiches, and I took a veggie tray. They asked for enough food for about 15 people.
The veggie tray: purchased at the store for $10 (last minute add-on). Total cost to make it myself:
1 bunch celery: 0.89
1 lb carrots: 0.79
1 pint cherry tomatoes: 2.29
3/4 cup ranch dressing: 1.50
Total: $5.47 if you make yourself. Can save $4.53, or 45%
The sandwiches: made from items from the store (last minute add-on). If I had purchased pre-made sandwiches, they would have been $50-70.
13 sub rolls (from the day old bread rack, which is where I buy my bread too): $3.48
1.75 lb turkey and ham (at $9/lb): 15.75
1 head lettuce: 0.99
3 6-oz packages sliced cheese: 6.00
1 container mustard: 1.49
Total: $27.71 for 26 servings (each serving is 1/2 sandwich): $1.07 per sandwich. In reality, I didn't know if they'd have enough, so I cut each sandwich into thirds so it would stretch farther.
Savings: $32.29 (assuming $60), or 54%
Further savings can be had in those expensive items. By buying Costco meats and cheese, or cooking and slicing yourself, you can save big time. But the decision to do this was made with less than a day's notice, and I didn't feel like driving 12 miles to Costco to save a few bucks on meat and cheese.
The bean salad: this was the frugal item. Could make more frugal mostly by using dried beans
2 cans black beans: 1.78
3/4 bag frozen roasted corn: 1.50
1/2 c. red quinoa (pre-cooked amount), cooked: 0.50
1/3 c. salsa: 0.50
3 cloves garlic: 0.15
1/2 pkg cherry tomatoes, halved: 1.25
3/4 of a red bell pepper, diced: 1.00
1/2 of a red onion, diced: 0.25
1/3 c. olive oil: 0.70
juice of 1 lime: 0.33
3 T. rice vinegar: 0.32
S&P to taste
Total: $8.28 for 10 cups, or 20 1/2-c servings. $0.41 per serving.
I don't know what you'd pay for this, but at a salad bar, it would be $6-7 a pound. So 1/2 cup is about 4 oz (1/4 lb), or $1.50. So maybe you're saving $1.09, or 73%. But that's just a guess.