15 Cheap and Easy Dishes to Bring to a Summer Cookout
Summer parties combine relaxation, nice weather, and good food and friends. It's always appropriate to bring a dish or beverage to contribute. While the old standby of a bottle of wine or six-pack of beer is easy, a guest can easily bring an entire dish for less money. Ranging from side salads to finger food to easy desserts, these 15 party dishes are cheap, easy, and welcome additions to any backyard party.
Related: 10 Tips for Hosting a Budget-Friendly Summer Party
This go-to summer classic is about as easy and cheap as it gets: Just a box of pasta and some oil and vinegar provide the basis for a dish that virtually everyone enjoys. Add some seasonal produce such as summer green beans, tomatoes, and herbs, as suggested by Southern Living, and the pasta salad is ready to go. To make it a heartier entrée, top with grilled chicken, beef, or tofu.
Related: 16 Cheap Pasta Salad Recipes for Summer
These easy and cheap staples are always a hit, and it's just as easy to make them festive with toppings and decorative touches such as little candy stars. This patriotic recipe for red, white, and blue cupcakes from the blog Grin And Bake It creates a festive and impressive look without using expensive extras -- just a touch of food coloring and an extra step to layer the differently colored batters. Genius.
Related: 15 Cheap Party Foods for July Fourth
A cheap party food for the masses, air-popped corn is just a few cents per large serving. Customize the flavors and colors to suit any theme. To kick it up a notch from basic salt and butter, use zesty garlic and an herb such as rosemary, as suggested by the blog Two Peas & Their Pod. Popcorn is also a good dessert option with a recipe such as the irresistible soft caramel popcorn from The Girl Who Ate Everything.
This ubiquitous party dip hits all the right notes: vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and tasty, especially if it's homemade. A traditional roasted garlic hummus is nothing to sniff at, although a little outside-the-box experimentation can be fun too. One idea: a spicy chipotle hummus from the blog Coconut & Lime. However it's made, hummus is cheap, quick, and well-received at any festive gathering.
Related: 10 Cheap and Tasty Ideas for Chips and Dip