Last weekend, I threw the second of three birthday parties I’m in charge of hosting in January/February. It unintentionally became the easiest, most popular party we’ve hosted in a long time, and the fact that it also happened to be a no-cook meal that cost less than $100 (to feed 23 people) only reaffirmed that this is a party menu everyone should know about.
Jackson is very invested in his birthday parties, often declaring them his favourite day of the year, so he has big thoughts and feelings about the cake and what we should (and shouldn’t!) serve for the meal. When we sat down to plan what this year’s celebration would look like, we immediately knew it needed to be a lunch event. He’s in the middle of first semester exams, and midday meals usually don’t last as long as evening ones. One day last week, during a much-needed study break, we were debating the merits of both mac and cheese and tacos, when he suddenly bolted upright and declared he would have a build-your-own-sandwich bar for his birthday celebration this year.
It sounded easy enough, and the good news is, it was. A quick trip to Costco and the grocery store left me armed with enough food for 23 people for just under a hundred dollars. A day later, I can tell you that we had enough leftovers to make at least 10 more sandwiches, so in reality this spread could probably feed up to 30 people for that price. Our crowd is made up mostly of men and boys (between Rob and his brothers they have 8 sons) so I’m not underestimating my food count here.
As I assembled platters of meats and cheeses on Saturday night, it occurred to me that this is truly a no-cook meal. In fact, it requires nothing more than some slicing and dicing to get a good amount of food on the table. Knowing my crowd, I didn’t go too crazy with the fillings, but there was just enough stuff to keep it interesting for those of us who are more adventurous eaters.
You might have noticed a small plate of finger sandwiches on the table. Those were made for the toddlers who don’t (or can’t) eat deli meat. Instead, they munched on crustless triangular tea sandwiches, served alongside some cheese, fresh fruit and raisins.
As you probably know (do you care?), Super Bowl is this Sunday. Instead of standing over the stove cooking pots of chilli, or blasting the oven as you rotate pans of cheesy nachos and suicide chicken wings, why not consider a Super Bowl sandwich spread instead? No-cook, cost-effective, and crowd-pleasing, what more could a party host want?
P.S. I rarely touch on hot-button topics here on the blog mostly because I feel you read this space for a little levity from the day-to-day doldrums few of us are immune to. If anything is guaranteed to make you feel better, it's filling your table with people you know and love, and maybe even those you don't, which is why I wanted to offer you a way to do so simply. The world needs a whole lot more love these days, don't you think? And if food doesn't equal love, I really don't know what does. The wise Laurie Colwin once had this to say: "No matter how hard we work, or what's going on, we must also eat. To sit down with family and friends to a good meal is nourishing not only to the body but to the spirit. If our world is heartless, we must start somewhere."