DIY Wedding Food Ideas on a Budget
Cooking: Tastier and Cheaper Than Catering!
DIY wedding food is certainly not for everyone. If you're serving hundreds of people, the logistics are a nightmare. And if you don't know anyone who can cook, you're kind of stuck with paying to have food made for you. In addition, the preparation, cooking, serving, and clean up is a lot of work (which caterers usually take care of).
As long as you're willing to put up with all that, making your own wedding food can be a great choice that will keep you under budget, especially if you know people who can make really good food!
Cooking your own wedding food is not as crazy as it sounds—trust me, I know! After all, you can see a picture of me above, enjoying the fruits of the homemade-wedding-food labor taken on by my family and some very helpful neighbors (supplemented by some wise prepared purchases from our local grocery store).
Below you'll find tips for preparing food for your (or someone else's) wedding, along with some suggested dishes and recipes. If I've left anything out, be sure to let me know in the comments below! Bon appetit!
Budget DIY Wedding Food Dish List
- potato chips
- corn chips, salsa, and guacamole
- buffalo chicken salad (here's a recipe from the Food Network)
- grilled sirloin steaks (marinated)
- cheese platter with crackers
- fruit and vegetable platters
- fruit salsa
- baked beans (use canned, or follow this recipe from Allrecipes)
- smoked turkey (whole) with cranberry sauce
- smoked pig (whole) with rolls and barbecue sauce
- potato salad, egg salad, broccoli salad or something similar (here's a recipe for potato salad from Food.com to get you started)
- wedding cupcakes
Stick to things that you know will taste good, not fancy foods that take forever to prepare. It's not like people are expecting complex dishes—why do you think steak and lobster are so popular at weddings?
Grilling or smoking foods at home is a great way to serve a lot of people at once, especially if the items don't take a lot of preparation, such as steaks and other meats.
Tips for Making Your Own Wedding Food
- Simplicity is best. Chances are that you're going to be running around a lot on the day of the wedding, so don't make things more complicated than they have to be. Keep dishes simple and supplement with prepared foods (such as chips and dip). Purchasing fruit or vegetable platters can also be a time saver.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Having a potluck event is great, but not everyone wants guests to worry about bringing food. Alternatively, get family members, neighbors, or good friends to help with the cooking.
- Cook in bulk. Consider cooking one or two large items for the bulk of the food. For example, we marinated large sirloin steaks the night before the party. We also smoked a large pig in our smoker. These main dishes didn't take a lot of time to prepare or cook.
- Now is not the time to experiment! New recipes almost always take a few tries to get right. Even if someone else swears by the recipe, it may not work for you. Only prepare dishes for the wedding that you know will work. This is a great time to break out all of the "tried and true" family recipes.
- Plan, purchase, and prepare way ahead of time. Start to stock up on ingredients several weeks before the actual wedding and finish the bulk of the shopping with a few days to spare. Sure, you may have to run to the store the day before, but you won't have a whole laundry list of things to buy. And make as much as you can (especially any desserts!) ahead of time.
Homemade Wedding Cupcakes
If there's one thing that you really shouldn't feel bad about outsourcing, it's cake-making. Many people just aren't very good bakers (myself included). My mom actually made these delicious little beauties—she's an all-star when it comes to baked goods!
The funny thing was, though, that by the time the wedding cupcakes came out, everyone was so full of good food that it wasn't really a big deal. After all of our work, they were something of an afterthought! You should keep this in mind when deciding whether to splurge on expensive wedding cupcakes.