25+ Wedding Reception Buffet Menu Ideas on a Budget

Food is a big part of any celebration and more so your wedding day. Your guests are looking forward to enjoying a hearty evening meal and you sure as hell want to make sure there’s enough to go around and maybe even a little more for seconds! How does that work with the skyrocketing grocery prices that are bound to bring your food costs up?

Well, ditching the plated dinners and prime meat cuts is one way to do it but here are a few more cheap wedding buffet menu ideas made with low-cost ingredients that will leave both your guests and your bank accounts happy.

Cheap Wedding Food Ideas for Your Appetizer Station

Picture source Instagram @dolce_catering

Appetizers seem to beat the purpose when you’re trying to save on costs. After all, they’re just another thing to factor in when running the numbers, right and not exactly what you expect when thinking of cheap wedding food ideas, right?

Not quite! You can still bring out appetizers to supplement your main meal and for a lot less than you imagined. Here are some cheap appetizers that will help you flesh out your menu.

Check out these other budget friendly wedding ideas for your big day:

1. Dinner rolls

I can’t think of many people who don’t enjoy dinner rolls with some butter to start their dining experience. These are convenient to get both from the store or bakery and if you plan on doing most of the cooking yourself, they can be made at home stress-free! And well butter! You don’t have to churn your own for this one.

2. Kebabs

Turkish chicken shish kebab

Kebabs are delicious and made with affordable ingredients that are bound to ensure they stay within the budget. They are incredibly convenient finger foods that can be thrown into the appetizer menu and as a plus, you don’t even have to plan extra cutlery for them.

3. Sliders

You might not be able to have a full-on burger on your menu but sliders are a great second! Everybody likes a cheat day, they’re incredibly affordable and you can play around with a few flavors to offer variety. What could go wrong? Absolutely nothing! Sliders are always a welcome addition to any appetizer menu.

4. Crackers, Cheese, Fruits and Mixed Nuts

Assorted homemade pieces cheese with honey, fruits, cookies and nuts on table

Isn’t that a few ingredients short of a charcuterie board? Technically yes! But, hear us out! Just because you’re borrowing a few elements of the board doesn’t mean you have to go all out. It’s perfectly fine to add these to your appetizer menu without the expense that is the cured meats. We all know that’s when the numbers really start to go up.

Other than that, crackers are some of the most affordable snacks out and you can always settle for the less expensive cheese. After all, there’s still room for the main dish. Mixed nuts, grapes, and other fruits would be a great way to add bulk and visual appeal to a plain crackers and cheese platter.

We always suggest picking fruits that are in season because they’re priced incredibly cheap.

5. Mini Tacos

Tacos are fast-selling items because they’re just that good! And like with the sliders, minis are always better for appetizers. They give that oomph without getting your guests too full for the main dishes. As a plus, they’re bound to be extremely affordable so you can order as many as you would like and let your guests indulge in these delicacies.

6. Chicken skewers

plate with tasty grilled chicken skewers

Skewered meats are always a welcome addition to any menu. They pack a ton of flavor and you don’t even have to stick to one flavor profile! They are also really easy to consume in a short time and all in all, are just a little piece of heaven on earth. The best part is, that you can always settle for chicken breasts to bring these to life if you’re looking to save even bigger.

7. Potato leek soup

If you’re going to serve bread, then soup to go with it is always a welcome addition. A potato leek is a French classic that will give your menu that oomph without a hefty price tag attached to it. The soup is creamy, and silky and can be served with added toppings to complement your bread baskets.

Cheap Buffet Menu Ideas for Your Main Dishes

A great appetizer menu may be a tough act to follow however, we have some great menu ideas to follow up whichever appetizer combinations you go with, and all within budget!

1. Creamy garlic chicken penne

This Italian-style pasta is exactly what every party needs to add some oomph. It’s made with butter, heavy cream, parmesan, Italian seasoning, garlic and chicken breasts. It tastes amazing and plates beautifully and with its base ingredients being pasta and chicken breasts, it fits right into the affordable category.

2. Linguine with lemon garlic sauce

This is another Italian classic that brings in a little heat element for those who enjoy some spice. The rich sauce is made with butter sizzled in olive oil with garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and parsley and it is tossed with freshly made linguine pasta.

It plates beautifully when topped with fresh parsley and parmesan and maybe even a little freshly squeezed lemon for extra tang.

3. Fettuccine Alfredo

Well, you guessed it! This is another Italian classic. The sauce is made with butter, garlic, heavy cream parmesan, and pepper. It is silky smooth, goes great with your fettuccine, and plates beautifully with a fresh parsley garnish. As a plus, you can add chicken breast bits to this pasta dish and make it even bulkier without compromising the authenticity of the original dish.

4. Fajita Style Pasta

This pasta takes on a Mexican spin with Mexican flavors brought in by the ground coriander, cumin, and smoked paprika yet still uses Italian herbs and heavy cream to finish off the sauce. It can be served as a plain sauce or with added chicken breasts.

This pasta plates beautifully due to the burst of color brought in by the red and yellow peppers and tomato puree used in the sauce and the parmesan and Mexican blend cheese added for garnish.

5. Pasta Bolognese

This is the first thing that comes to mind when pasts are mentioned! It’s a classic for a reason and will always have a place in any buffet setting. The sauce is made with ground beef, onions, celery, Italian herbs, beef broth, wine, and a tomato blend puree simmered until it’s rich and full of flavor. It is served with pasta and topped with parmesan and fresh parsley for garnish

6. Roasted Potatoes

delicious fried homemade potatoes with mushrooms

Roasted potatoes are low effort and the perfect in-between when it comes to serving up potatoes. They are fluffy inside yet crispy and full of flavor. The preparation is incredibly easy as it includes parboiling your potatoes, tossing them in olive oil mixed with salt and your preferred seasoning to add flavor, and throwing them into the oven until they’re crisp and ready to serve.

They plate beautifully without the extra work and red hue brought in by the paprika but topping them with fresh parsley is one way to add color to the dish,

7. Baked Potatoes

These potatoes are the easiest to make as they require minimal hands-on work while they cook. Once the potatoes are clean, coated with olive oil and salt, and forked multiple times, the rest is a hands-off prep.

These potatoes can be topped with sour cream, cashews, bacon, chives, and maybe even a little butter and freshly chopped parsley. Don’t worry about the last guest getting theirs warm because they’re great when served warm instead of straight out of the oven.

8. Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potato

Mashed potatoes make an appearance at almost every celebration and rightfully so. They are smooth, creamy, buttery, and delightful to eat. There are so many variations of the mashed potato which include adding whole milk and cream cheese, heavy cream, garlic, and even pepper.

Whichever variation you choose to run with, mashed potatoes are always a welcome addition. And don’t forget the butter! You can’t replace this one key ingredient.

9. Garlic Herb Roasted Chicken

This is another menu item that brings in all the flavor without all the extra work. This chicken is made by coating your chicken with garlic butter, lemon, white wine, rosemary, and parsley and throwing them into the oven with occasional basting throughout the cooking time. It packs a lot of flavor and goes great with multiple main dishes,

10. Bruschetta chicken

This Italian chicken is made with chicken breast, garlic, shallots, fresh basil, a balsamic glaze, and a mozzarella finish topped with a tomato mixture. It’s easy to make, looks great plated, and is a great way to add an Italian spin to your chicken dishes.

11. Jamaican Jerk Steak

Banishing the prime cuts from your buffet menu doesn’t necessarily mean no steaks are allowed. If you’re settling for some budget cuts, you can make them feel and taste prime by adding a burst of flavor to your steaks. One way to do that is by marinating the steaks in a jerk seasoning blend for a few hours before setting them on the grill to cook until the preferred doneness. This steak is bound to be a hit and add in an unexpected flavor profile.

12. Texas BBQ

texas style bbq tray with smoked brisket, st louis ribs, pulled pork, chicken, hot links, and sides

A BBQ is a welcome addition to any menu. It may take a while to create between the brine, allowing the meat to smoke, and the final oven cook, but definitely worth the wait. It is brushed with a Texas BBQ sauce for a glossy finish and is bound to have your guests returning for seconds.

13. Pork Belly with Cherry Bourbon Sauce

While still on BBQs, this is another BBQ recipe with an unforeseen twist. These are made by smoking your pork belly over several hours and then coating them with cherry bourbon sauce made with cherry juice, cherries, BBQ sauce, and a splash of bourbon. They are mouth-watering and a great surprise at any table.

14.  Sauteed Green Beans with Garlic

This classic side is made with only three ingredients, well, four if you include the salt to taste. It’s simple to make and blends right into most plates. It is made by boiling the green beans until they are a bright green, drained, and then tossed in minced garlic that has been cooked in olive oil.

15. Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Who likes broccoli right? Well, this parmesan roasted broccoli is one way to change everyone’s mind about broccoli.

This is made by tossing broccoli with olive oil, Italian-style breadcrumbs, shredded parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper and then shoving them into the oven for 12 minutes. Quick and easy and a great way to incorporate vegetable sides into your buffet dinner.

16. Roasted Brussels Sprout but Better!

Healthy Roasted Homemade Brussels Sprouts

These are made by tossing halved Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, and pepper and throwing them in the oven to cook until golden brown.

At this point, the Brussels sprouts are ready to serve however you can drizzle with some more olive oil, and balsamic vinegar to add some zing and honey for sweetness and balance out the slight bitterness present in Brussels sprouts. It’s a welcome twist and a pleasant surprise for your guests,

17. Potato Salad

Potatoes seem to have taken over this buffet menu and rightfully so because they’re so versatile! The rule of thumb with potato salads, the creamier the better! And the prep is as easy as boiling your potatoes, letting them cool a little, and then mixing in your dressing and favorite toppings

18. Caesar Salad

This is another easy-to-make salad that adds variety to your buffet menu. It is made with romaine lettuce, shredded parmesan, crisp croutons, and a Caesar salad dressing. It’s in and out and will be cleaned out of the plates equally as fast!

Final Thoughts 

We know coming up with buffet ideas that are bound to wow the crowd without breaking the bank is no walk in the park. Whether you plan to bring in caterers or take on the food prep yourself, we hope these cheap wedding food ideas will help come up with an incredible dinner feast for your big day easier.

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