Join our mailing list to find out more ways to make and save money with little time and effort.

8 Budget-Friendly Potluck Dishes for Summer Parties

Some of these links may be affiliate links and we may receive compensation when you sign-up for offers. See our disclosure policy. All information on this site is for educational and informational purposes only.

budget friendly potluck dishesSummer’s approaching and soon it’ll be time for family gatherings, outdoor parties, company picnics and such and that usually means needing to bring a potluck dish.

Sometimes these events can be stressful as you’ll want to bring something tasty and sufficient that doesn’t look cheap and doesn’t break your budget.

Not to fear, these 8 budget-friendly potluck meals will please the crowd and be gentle on your wallet.

Note: Quoted prices are from Walmart, you can save more on your purchases by using cash-back grocery apps. Also, I will assume you already have spices in your pantry, so those prices are not included.

1. Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Need to bring a large hot dish?

This is an inexpensive and delicious offering.

Feeds: 8 – 12 people
Costs: $12.42 (about $1.03 to $1.55 per person)


  • 1 stick butter, unsalted ($4.56/4 sticks= $1.14)
  • About 2 Cups onion, finely chopped (78¢ each X 2 = $1.56)
  • 4 tsp. dried Thyme
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tsps. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Pepper
  • 12 – 16 medium Potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced ($2.97 for 5lb. bag, use half = $1.48)
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth ($1.44 for 32oz., use half = 72¢)
  • 2 Cups Half & Half ($1.34)
  • 2 Cups Ham, chopped ($1.98 for ham steak, need 2 = $3.96)
  • 4 Bay leaves
  • 2 Cups Cheese, shredded ($2.22 for 8oz. block)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 12-inch baking dish with cooking spray
  2. In a large pot, melt butter and add onions and sauté, stirring frequently until soft and tender, about 3-4 minutes
  3. Add Thyme, Salt, Pepper, and Garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes
  4. Pour in Broth, Cream and Bay Leaves. Add Potatoes.
  5. Bring to slight boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  6. Stir in Ham, heat through
  7. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish and sprinkle with cheese.
  8. Put in oven and cook on 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.

2. Homemade Antipasto Salad

A cold salad that’s sure to attract attention as it’s not the “usual” macaroni salad.

Makes: 50 servings
Costs: $21.38
(43¢ per serving)


  • 2 pkgs (1 lb. each) spiral pasta (80¢ x 2 = $1.60)
  • 4 large tomatoes, chopped ($1.50 x 4 = $6.00)
  • 3 large onions, chopped (78¢ each X 3 = $2.34)
  • 4 tsp. dried Thyme
  • 2 large green peppers, chopped (68¢ each x 2 = $1.36)
  • 2 cans (16oz. each) chick peas, rinsed and drained (68¢ x 2 = $1.36)
  • 1 lb. thinly sliced hard salami, julienned ($2.98)
  • 1 lb. sliced pepperoni, julienned ($2.26)
  • ½ lb. provolone cheese, cubed ($2.37 for 8oz, use half = $1.18)
  • 1 Cup pitted ripe olives, halved ($1.53, use half = 77¢
  • Bottle of Light & Zesty Italian Dressing ($1.53)


  1. Cook pasta (follow package directions), drain and rinse with cold water. In a large serving bowl, combine pasta with the next eight ingredients.
  2. For dressing, pulse vinegar, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper in a blender. While processing, gradually add oil in a steady stream.
  3. Pour over salad; toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, 4 hours or overnight.

3. “Doctored Up” Canned Beans

Baked beans are great at any picnic or BBQ, but you don’t want yours to taste “canned”, right?

Makes: 100 servings
Costs: $12.56
(13¢ a serving)


  • 2 Cans Bush Original Beans 55oz. ($3.72 x 2 = $7.44)
  • 1 Onion, chopped (78¢)
  • 1 Red Pepper, chopped ($1.78)
  • 1 pkg Fully Cooked Hickory Smoked Bacon ($2.56)


  1. Empty beans into a large pot
  2. Sauté onion and red pepper, drain and add to pot
  3. Chop up bacon and add to pot
  4. Taste and add seasonings as you see fit.

This is where you can create your own combinations of flavorings such as:

  • Vegetables (onion, pepper, chilies, garlic)
  • Sweeten it (add brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey)
  • Meat (add leftover pulled pork, sausages, or brisket)
  • Flavors (add BBQ sauce, mustard, paprika, Worcestershire, or turmeric)

This is where you can use up leftovers and save even more money. Do be sure to keep tasting as you go along, as once you add something, you can’t remove it.

4. Spicy Cornbread Salad

A sure hit for its uniqueness and heat.

Makes: 16 servings
Costs: $15.37
(96¢ per serving)


  • 2 pkgs Yellow Cornbread mix (84¢ x 2 = $1.68)
  • 2 cans Chili beans 15.5oz each, drained (68¢ x 2 = $1.36)
  • 2 cans Corn 15oz. each, drained (50¢ x 2 = $1.00)
  • 2 cans Rotel 10oz. each, drained (98¢ x 2 = $1.96)
  • 2 Tomatoes, chopped ($1.50 x 2 = $3.00)
  • 1 bunch Green Onions, chopped (98¢)
  • 2 pkgs dry Ranch mix dressing, prepared (48¢ x 2 = 96¢)
  • 1 pkg shredded sharp cheddar cheese 8oz. ($1.87)
  • 1 pkg Fully Cooked Hickory Smoked Bacon ($2.56)


  1. Prepare cornbread mix in a 9×13 pan and follow box directions.
  2. While cornbread cools, mix together the Rotel and tomatoes.
  3. Crumble up cornbread into large chunks
  4. In a large serving dish, start layering 1/3 of each:
    • Cornbread
    • Beans
    • Corn
    • Tomatoes
    • Green Onions
    • Dressing
    • Cheese
    • Bacon
  5. Repeat layers 2 more times
  6. Refrigerate overnight

5. Tangy Glazed Meatballs

We’ve seen crockpots of little meatballs floating in plain BBQ sauce, but why not surprise your host with this spicy version instead?

Makes: 60 meatballs
Costs: $10.04


  • 1 jar (9 ounces) Mango Chutney ($3.98)
  • ¾ Cup Steak sauce ($1.98 for 12oz, need only half = 99¢)
  • ½ Cup Chili sauce ($1.68 for 13.25oz, need only one third = 55¢)
  • ½ Cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce
  • 1 pkg (32 ounces) frozen fully cooked meatballs, thawed ($4.52)


  1. In a large saucepan, mix together first 6 ingredients.
  2. Cook and stir over medium heat until blended.
  3. Add meatballs and cover for 15-20 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

This can also be easily assembled in a crock pot and kept warm for the whole party.

6. Fun Party Roll-Ups

This recipe actually won a ribbon at a County fair. Bring these for a great crowd-pleasing appetizer.

Makes: 72 roll-ups
Costs: $11.18
(15¢ per roll-up)


  • 1 8oz pkg Cream cheese, softened ($1.46)
  • 6 flour tortillas (8” wide) ($2.28)
  • 36 Spinach leaves ($2.58)
  • 1 pkg (6oz) thinly sliced deli ham ($2.50)
  • 1 can (4 ¼ oz) chopped olives ($1.38)
  • 1 can (4oz) chopped green chilies, drained (98¢)


  1. Put 3 Tbsp. cream cheese on each tortilla and spread evenly.
  2. Layer each tortilla with 6 spinach leaves and 3 slices of ham.
  3. Sprinkle with olives and chilies.
  4. Roll tortillas up tightly and wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm.
  5. Unwrap and cut each roll-up into 12 slices.
  6. Arrange on a large platter and serve.

7. Chicken and Corn Hashbrown Bake

A nice hot entrée that looks like a lot of time and expense was put into it, but you and I know better.

Makes: 12 servings
Costs: $14.87


  • 1 10oz can reduced-fat and reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup (50¢)
  • 1 8oz carton dairy sour cream (88¢)
  • ½ Cup milk
  • 2 tsps dried dillweed or dried basil, crushed
  • ¾ tsp pepper
  • 1 28oz pkg frozen hash brown potatoes with onions and peppers, thawed ($2.34)
  • 2 Cups chopped cooked chicken (use leftovers or $5.48)
  • 1 can 15.25oz can whole kernel corn, drained (50¢)
  • 1 8oz pkg cream cheese, cut into cubes ($1.46)
  • 2 Cups shredded cheese ($1.87)
  • 1 Cup seasoned croutons, coarsely crushed (optional) (92¢ x 2 = $1.84)


  1. In a very large bowl mix together the soup, sour cream, milk, dill, and pepper.
  2. Stir in potatoes, chicken, corn, cream cheese and ½ Cup of the cheese.
  3. Spoon mixture into a greased 3-quart rectangular dish.
  4. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
  5. Uncover and stir the mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  6. Bake, uncovered, another 40 minutes more or until top is golden and potatoes are tender.
  7. Sprinkle with croutons, if you like, the last 10 minutes of baking.
  8. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

8. No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

Of course, we can’t have a potluck without dessert, can we? This is a great ending to a summer party as who doesn’t like sneaking a bite of cookie dough when making cookies? All the great flavor without the health risks!

Makes: 32 bars
Costs: $9.39


  • 1 Cup unsalted butter, softened ($2.98, only need half = $1.49)
  • 2 Cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 2/3 Cup Milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 2/3 Cups oat “flour” (take a 42oz pkg of old-fashioned oats and pulse in a blender or processor until textured like flour) ($2.46)
  • 2 Cups mini chocolate chips ($1.98)
  • 3 Cups semisweet chocolate chips ($2.87)
  • ½ Cup heavy Cream ($2.34, only need ¼ = 59¢)


For the base layer:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the softened butter and brown sugar until well combined.
  2. Add the vanilla extract, milk, salt and oat flour. Mix together until smooth.
  3. Fold in the mini chocolate chips until well distributed.
  4. Line an 9×13 baking pan with parchment or wax paper. Spread the “dough” out evenly, making sure to get it all the way into the corners of the pan. Refrigerate for at least two hours or until very solid.

For the top layer:

  1. Melt the remaining chocolate chips with cream in a small saucepan over low heat.
  2. Once smooth, pour over the base layer and spread evenly.
  3. Return pan to fridge to solidify the chocolate layer (about 15 minutes).
  4. Slice into 2-inch squares.
  5. Serve immediately or keep refrigerated until party time. Tip: if serving on a hot day, freeze solid and bring out 15-20 minutes before party time.

Final Thoughts

As you’ve read, many of these recipes are under $15, with the most expensive being just under $22!

Again, if you used your cash-back apps, like Ibotta, you could save $5.25 on the ingredients for the Antipasto salad, reducing the $21.38 price to $16.13!

Do you still want to read more about saving money this summer?

Earn Fee Cash Online: The Survey Junkie survey site is a FREE survey site that pays you to take surveys online. There's absolutely no cost to join, and payouts can be made to either PayPal or for a gift card of your choosing. The best part? Some people are earning at a rate of up to $15 - $20 per hour. It's 100% free to join. We've partnered with Survey Junkie to give you a 25-point sign-up bonus when you register using our link and complete your initial profile information.

One Response

  1. Allison Apr 23, 2019

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.