What should I bring to this potluck? Cheap & Easy.

I basically live off of sandwiches. You might think I’m kidding like, yeah alterego probably eats a sandwich for lunch but its not true. I only eat sandwiches.

So anyways, I wouldn’t say I’m a total disaster in the kitchen. I can follow directions, I just don’t like to cook for myself. I have to go to a potluck this evening and I don’t know what to bring. I don’t want to embarass myself by bringing something awful or nothing at all. Also, I’m kind of broke right now, so it should be cheap and relatively easy to make, but also tasty. Any enterprising doper that can help me? Thanks.

Veggie plate. Several kinds of veggies, cut up appropriately, and one or two kinds of dip and/or ranch dressing. Do not get Dean’s brand, it sucks. No cooking required.

All veggies must be washed. Carrots should be peeled and cut into sticks. Celery needs to be cut into sticks no wider than half an inch, and no longer than four inches. Bell peppers cut into strips. Radishes need to have the roots and tops removed. Cauliflower and broccoli should be cut into florets. Etc. Just cut up the stuff until it’s no larger than one or two reasonable sized bites, arrange neatly on a plate, and garnish, if desired, with fresh parsley or cilantro (both herbs are incredibly cheap).

I often bring this, augmented with olives and gherkin pickles, to pot lucks. Some people love vegetables, and crave something crunchy. Some people will be on a diet, or think that they should be, and this is a guilt-free food. Other people don’t want to eat a lot of fatty foods, and vegetables taste fine by themselves, without a dip. Some people will completely avoid this platter, but hey, everyone has different tastes. Bringing this assortment also ensures that I will have something that I like to eat, that won’t be disastrous to my diet.

Pasta salad. Cook some corkscrew or farfalle pasta (tricolor if you can get it). When you drain it, put back in pan with a little oil or butter to keep it from clumping, stir. Then add stuff like:

pepperoni or salami
olives, black and/or green
bite-sized pieces bell pepper, tomato, etc.
parmesan, mozzarella, other
red onion

spices: a little salt, fresh ground pepper, some Italian spices

Optional: some salad dressing to top it.

Make it simple or complicated. Go for colors and textures.

I brought watermelon to a potluck last weekend, already sliced. It was the host’s birthday so I also brought a bottle of wine. I’m like Lynn Bodoni, I like to bring plain fresh produce to complement the heavier entrees and appetizers that others bring.

Wow, these are some great suggestions. I think right now its a tossup between veggie plate and watermelon (if they have it). Pasta seems like I might trainwreck. Veggie plate seems fun to snack on but watermelon is super simple which is also my style. Depends on what I find at the grocery store. THanks!

Paper plates, paper napkins, plastic utensils, plastic or paper cups, disposable table cloths, trash bags, cleaning supplies, help with set up and clean up - that’s how I contributed to pot lucks before I learned how to cook. My next step was a basic mix cake with canned frosting. (The time the fire department came when I was baking a cake was NOT! My! Fault!!)

The baked beans recipe here is pretty easy and very good. Mama Zappa and I usually make one version per the recipe, and an “unleaded” version with no bacon and canned vegetarian beans instead of canned pork 'n beans. Also very yummy!

If you want to go for super easy, you can always stop by your favorite local Mexican restaurant and get a couple orders of thier fresh tortilla chips and house salsa to go; inexpensive, tasty, vegitarian (so everyone will be able to enjoy them) and of course no work/clean up for you or the pot luck host…

You could also just get chips and salsa from the grocery store, but I tend to like the freshly made from a restaurant.

Deviled eggs. Cheap and easy. The watermelon idea would be both cheap and easy, too. Veggie plates, while easy, add up pretty quickly IMO.

Oh yeah, +1 for deviled eggs–you can buy a carton of eggs for a couple bucks, then all you need is a little mayo, mustard, salt and pepper for the ultra-basics. Bonus points for paprika and dill relish.
I was going to suggest lunch meats and cheese, that meets the “easy” criteria but not nearly so cheap. For dip often it’s cheaper to get a carton of sour cream and a powdered dip mix from the salad dressing aisle than a pre-packaged carton of dip. I think it tastes better, too.
A fun alternative is cut up fruit with a bowl of vanilla yogurt for “dip” (helpful to nest it in a bowl of ice).

My cheap and easy potluck standby is usually hummus.

Thanks everyone. I bought a 15lb watermelon for $3.99 :slight_smile:

Although I think it’s kind of cheating not to make your contribution yourself, note that you can buy ready-made veggie platters in most supermarkets.

The ready made veggie platters are significantly more expensive than cutting up the stuff yourself, and the OP stated that he was kind of broke, so I went with the do it yourself version. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with getting the premade veggie platters, as long as the veggies look fresh.

Does it have to be healthy?

Dump Cake

Take a can of cherry pie filling and a can of crushed pineapple. Dump them in a 13x9 pan. Stir a little.
Get a yellow cake mix. Spread it over the top of the pie filling and pineapple. (Do not do anything to the cake mix. Just pour it out of the box.
Take a stick of butter or margerine. Melt it in the microwave and pour it evenly over the cake mix mixture.
Sprinkle chopped pecans over the top. Bake for about 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

You have a surprisingly delicious cobbler. Serve with whipped cream.

I have yet to take a dump cake to a pot luck and have a crumb left at the end of the evening.

If you consider greasy hands the lesser of two evils – the other one being butter boiling over and making a mess in the microwave – don’t even melt the butter. Just cut it into chunks and drop them evenly over the cake mix.

I’m gonna move this to Cafe Society.

Then go fix a snack.

For a veggie tray, buy the Hidden Valley Ranch packets for the dip - it’s really easy to mix up and is outstanding. Commercial bottled or jarred ranch just isn’t as good, IMO.