I’ll readily admit: I’ve never been a big fan of football. What I am a fan of, though, is entire days spent cooking, eating, and indulging in borderline-degenerate gambling (You know, with other people. Usually.). Lucky for me, the Super Bowl has become a yearly chance to take part in all three activities in an entirely, socially acceptable manner.
I can’t advocate responsible gambling because, as I’ve been told countless times, it apparently doesn’t exist. However, financially savvy cooking is definitely a thing, and it’s something I gotchyu on.
Below, I’ve taken 6 of my favorite game day plates and broken them down into which you should buy versus which you should make. The decision to label an item BUY or MAKE was based off of the criteria of how to best optimize your money and your time. See, I feel that time is equally as important in most cases. After all, if you’re spending so much time in the kitchen making everything from scratch that you don’t have the chance to interact with and enjoy the company of your guests or the game itself, is it really worth it?
Look, unless you have your very own deep fryer at home or otherwise want to make a super particular type of low-calorie baked wing in the name of health (Super Bowl really isn’t the time for that, but I digress), just order the wings. Wings can be pricey to buy, difficult to cook (ahem, salmonella) and messy to prepare. To further save yourself the hassle, place your order a few days ahead of time, especially if you’re ordering from an extremely popular wing spot. If you aren’t lucky enough to live on the Upper West within delivery distance of Blondie’s, there are a number of other great wing spots to choose from.
Pull-Apart Loaf Bread: MAKE
I discovered this while immersed in a Pinterest K-hole last year and I’ve never been the same since. Pull-apart loaf bread is delicious, fun and super easy to make. Best of all, you can really customize it to your taste. I’m a cheese monger and I love spicy food, so I like to go with Jalapeño-Popper bread. $10 total and serves 10 ppl.
· 1 loaf of round bread ($3.5)
· 1 tin of whipped cream–cheese ($2)
· A few Jalapenos ($.5)
· Shredded mixed cheese ($4)
Directions: Cut the loaf lengthwise and then cross-wise, leaving a 1-2 inch base. Melt butter and “paint” the bread in between layers and across the top. Dice up the jalepenos and mix them into the whipped cream cheese. Spread between all the layers as close to the base of the bread as possible. Sprinkle mixed cheese in between and salt. Bake at $425 for 20 minutes.
From salsa to crab dip, it’s almost always more affordable to buy a dip than make one. Last year, I made spinach-artichoke dip from scratch. While it was certainly good, it also took forever to make (a surprisingly large amount of pots and pans were involved. Too much clean up) and then hardly anyone ate it and I felt unreasonably passive-aggressive toward them for it. Getting mad over spin dip = not a good look. Simply buy 1-2 of these $2.69 spinach dips from Trader Joes, a bag of chips, and call it a day!
Potato Skins: MAKE
Potato skins are not only easy and affordable, but pretty fun as you can make different variations, using existing ingredients you’ll already have from other apps. A tip: wash and bake the potatoes the night before. This way, prep and bake time the day-of will be less than 30 minutes. $8.5-$15.5 serves 20 people
· 1 five-lb bag of 3-5” Russet Idaho Baking Potatoes – $2.5
· Shredded Cheddar – $2.99
· Fresh Scallions, chopped - $.99
· Sour Cream - $1.99
· Crispy Cooked Bacon - $5.99 (optional)
Directions: Wash & bake potatoes. Slice in half length-wise and scoop out potato with a spoon. Stuff each half with preferred fillings. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 or until crispy. Top with scallions!
*Savings tip: Just use leftover cheese and/or dip from previously-purchased apps above as the fillings.
Party Sandwiches: BUY
Variety is the spice of life, but it can also be f-ckin expensive. From the roast-beef lover to the vegetarian to the jack-chicken wrap fiend, it’s definitely just best to order a platter of sandwiches that comes with an accompaniment of condiments than to spend your time buying various meats, breads, veggies and cheeses, stacking them all in different ways, and cutting each one. For a nice assortment, order from your local supermarket’s deli. For something even cheaper, consider a few Subway Footlongs of different kinds and then arrange them on a large plate. Easy peasy!
Do you have a great cost-savings recipe? Comment below!