New Year's Eve

A New Year's Eve Menu That Feels Special Without Blowing the Budget

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:

The appetizers

Kohlrabi less expensive than artichokes and easier to prepare. The biggest thing you’ll have to spring for is the olive oil.

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.

The Mains

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.

On the side

You already have tahini from making that snack mix. Now, just add broccoli and some seasonings and you have an addictive side.

If you have two teaspoons of red wine to spare, you can make this vinaigrette. After that, add your favorite greens for a side salad that can stand on its own.


This chocolate mousse has only four ingredients—and two of those are water and ice cubes, which are probably free.

Have you ever had puppy chow? It doesn’t matter what your answer is. Make puppy chow.

The drinks

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.

Tell us: What let's-not-blow-the-budget dishes do you serve on New Year's Eve?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I fall in love with every sandwich I ever meet.

1 Comment

Margaret L. December 29, 2016
If it's just the two of us, as it usually is, we have two meals. The first, at 6 or so, is usually spaghetti carbonara. It's festive and rich, and also homey, but most important, for us it's traditional. Then at about 11 we need another meal to carry us past midnight and cushion the champagne, so we have a soup (maybe cauliflower, fennel and leek with a good blue cheese stirred in for creaminess), smoked salmon, baquette and butter, and a Swedish beetroot salad. With just a little rearranging, the same ingredients become a party menu: baked penne "quattro formaggi" using Ina Garten's recipe, cauliflower soup, roast side of salmon, beet and apple salad, and toasted panetone slices with vanilla ice cream.