For those than can afford oodles of Champagne and caviar on New Year's, I say: That's great for you, but I'm not there (or even close) yet.
But you can still throw a great New Year's Eve party, full of food everyone will remember well into 2017, without buying a salary-worth of fish eggs and starting the year with a light wallet. It's not so much "cheap" as it is "resourceful." (And that sounds better than cheap, right?)
Here's what to make for New Year's Eve that won't blow your budget:
Dry ramen and corn chips are two cheap-o staples that remind us of college days. This snack mix has a good mix of, uh, high- and low-brow ingredients, like homemade wasabi peas, cashews, and, again, let’s circle back to the dry ramen.
For meat eaters, give them roast chicken! A fuss-free, delicious bird will please most everyone—and it's a heck of a lot cheaper than, say, caviar or a rack of lamb. Pair with fried herb salsa, if you so please, which requires little more than olive oil, herbs, and salt.
And for the vegetarians, Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter. No matter how many times you make it, it always seems like alchemy that ingredients so simple and few (and cheap) can produce something so rich and complex-tasting. Spring for the good canned tomatoes (which really aren’t that much more expensive), add pasta, and you’re set.
Have you ever had puppy chow? It doesn’t matter what your answer is. Make puppy chow.
Ask your guests to bring their favorite alcohol! Maybe it’s a bottle of wine, beer, or their favorite punch or cocktail ingredients. The purpose of this is twofold: It cuts down on costs for the host and there’s a larger variety of alcohol for everyone to sample.