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Festive occasions shouldn’t force you to empty your wallet. These budget-savvy menus from Trader Joe’s don’t skimp on food or flavor.

Kimberly Holland
May 07, 2018

I’m a bit of a notorious party person. No, I don’t mean wild nights and crazy times. I mean perfectly-planned baby showers and expertly-coordinated birthday parties. It’s kind of my thing.

What’s not my thing, however, is the large food bills I rack up in the process. I once hosted a “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” game night. We had all the iconic Fallon games—Egg Russian Roulette, Box of Lies, even Drinko—and I went overboard with New York-themed foods, from thin-crust pizza to hot dogs, caramel apples to Jimmy Fallon’s Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, The Tonight Dough.

I had laughs to last for weeks—and a grocery bill to match.

After that party, I decided to get smarter about the bites and treats I provide at gatherings, and I turned to the greatest budget-friendly store in all the grocery land: Trader Joe’s. 

Carefully crafted to be affordable but surprisingly creative, these four party menus provide everything you need for a good soiree, even the booze. They’re also insanely easy to prepare and serve. Each menu is almost entirely no-cook. But the best part? Each bill fits neatly under $25. Cheers to that!

A Breakfast Spread Under $20

Kimberly Holland

Provide everything your guests will need for a full morning meal—bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit, and a refreshing juice to wash it all down. This is a great selection of Trader Joe’s branded goods for when you have overnight guests but can’t muster the energy to actually cook.

$1.79 - 1 dozen eggs — Hard boil them the night before you plan to serve them, and peel them so guests don’t have to fuss with the shell.

$3.29 - 100% Grapefruit Juice

$2.69 - Bagels — Pick from sesame, plain, wheat, or everything.

$1.29 - Plain cream cheese

$5.99 - Wild Sockeye Smoked Salmon

$2.99 - Bag of mandarin oranges

$1.38 - 2 Pink Lady apples — Slice into wedges for guests.

TOTAL: $19.42 

Girls’ Night In Under $20

Kimberly Holland

Gather your favorite gals for a fun night of Netflix and wine. There’s nothing fancy or complicated about this menu—it’s just good eats for good friends.

$2.99 - Caramelized Onion Dip

$2.99 - Spinach & Artichoke Dip — Heat this up in the oven as guests arrive.

$1.99 - Multigrain Pita Chips

$1.99 - Movie Theatre Popcorn — No movie night would be complete without it.

$4.00 - 4 Simpler Wines — Get a can of wine to match each guest’s preference, or pick a varietal and snag a 4-pack.

$2.99 - Joe Joe’s cookies

$1.98 - Sparkling water — Choose from more than a dozen flavors.

TOTAL: $18.93

Book Club Bites Under $25

Kimberly Holland

Invite a handful of your literature-loving friends over to share the words and ideas you love. This party menu is sophisticated but fun. You provide one bottle of wine; ask the attendees to bring another, and keep pouring as you keep flipping pages.

$1.99 - Persian Cucumbers — Slice into rounds for the dip and prosciutto

$3.99 - Spanish Tapas Cheese Sampler

$4.99 - Prosciutto

$1.99 - French Baguette

$3.99 - Smoked Salmon Dip

$2.99 - Jumbo Pitted Kalamata Olives

$1.79 - Assorted Chocolate Bars

$2.99 - Charles Shaw Sauvignon Blanc

TOTAL: $24.72 

All-Purpose Party Menu Under $25

Kimberly Holland

I have standard foods I serve at every party, and several of those items make this list. These are classic nibbles for any occasion, and they’ll never disappoint.

$2.99 - Classic Hummus

$3.49 - Cracker Assortment

$2.99 - Goat Cheese

$2.49 - Pepper Jelly — Pour half a jar of jelly over the goat cheese log for an unforgettably easy spicy-creamy combo.

$4.99 - Pastry Bites with Feta Cheese and Caramelized Onion — Warm these in the oven just before guests arrive.

$1.96 - 4 Fuji apples - Slice into wedges and serve with the hummus and goat cheese.

$2.79 - Butter Almond Thins

$2.99 - Sparkling French Pink Lemonade

TOTAL: $24.69 

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