Skip to main content

9 incredible birthday party food ideas when you’re on a budget

A lot goes into putting together a birthday party for kids, whether you’re hosting it at home or at a party venue. From food to dessert to beverages to party favors and more, the bills can add up quickly and put a dent in the family bank account. Of course, you can have a fun and festive party for your child without overspending. When it comes to kids, simple typically is better. If you have a birthday party coming up and don’t want to order high-priced catered food, don’t worry. There are plenty of yummy birthday party food ideas if you’re on a budget. A budget doesn’t mean cheesy or tasteless either. You can put together a delicious menu that kids will actually eat and enjoy and without spending an excessive amount of money with these budget-friendly food ideas for a birthday party.


This is a kid and birthday party staple. Most birthday party celebrations for kids, tweens, and teens involve pizza. Instead of ordering pies from the nearest pizza place, consider having kids make their own pizzas. Party guests will love it, and it’s cheaper and healthier than ordering from a restaurant. Italian bread, bagels, and frozen dough make tasty pizzas. Kids prefer basic toppings like sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. Place out in bowls to let kids spoon on their own sauce and add toppings.


Another kid and adult favorite are tacos. Tacos make for fun and easy party food that all your guests will enjoy. Have hard and soft tacos along with basic stuffers like ground beef, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and of course cheese. Lay out the materials and let guests create their own.

plate of budget-friendly grilled cheese at a birthday party

Grilled cheese

There are entire restaurant menus dedicated to grilled cheese sandwiches. Making these at a birthday party will be a big hit and in addition to being scrumptious, grilled cheese is budget-friendly. All you’ll need is bread and cheese. Get creative and add tomato, bacon, or both.

Mac and cheese

Combing two kid staples pasta and cheese is a definite do at a birthday party. This dish is delicious and a favorite of children and adults of all ages. Mac and cheese isn’t difficult to make, and the ingredients are affordable. For kids remember to keep the mac and cheese fairly simple. If the party is for tweens or teens, you might want to spice your mac and cheese recipe up by stirring in extras like bacon.

Hot dogs and hamburgers

Another economical birthday party food option involves grilling up some hot dogs and/or hamburgers. Kids typically like both and you can offer basic toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese.

variety of budget-friendly pasta


For a healthy and cost-effective birthday party food kids will eat, try pasta. Pasta is economical and a delightfully appealing meal for party-goers of all ages. Change things up and offer a pasta bar with plain marinara and a meat sauce. With young kids, don’t get too crazy with the sauce options since many are picky. For tweens, teens, and parents who stay for the party, dish out sauces with a little variety along with Parmesan cheese and fresh oregano and basil.


For something different and budget-friendly, make up a selection of sandwiches kids will definitely dig into. American cheese, turkey, ham, peanut butter and jelly, and Nutella are just a few of the classic sandwiches kids love. Before offering peanut butter and jelly or Nutella though make sure none of the guests on the list have a peanut allergy.

Fruit platter

While kids may not run over to a veggie platter, serving up a variety of cut-up fruits like strawberries, grapes, clementines, oranges, apples, bananas, and watermelon certainly will. Clean and slice up the fruit and place in plastic cups for easy serving. Keep the different fruits separate. Younger kids especially aren’t big on the concept of a fruit salad but will eat the individual fruits on their own.

variety of budget-friendly ice cream toppings at a birthday party

Ice cream bar

For an always yummy and affordable dessert, dish out some ice cream. Kids love to create their own sundaes. Have a few toppings on hand like M&Ms, chocolate chips, sprinkles, and whipped cream. You don’t have to go crazy with the ice cream flavor options. Vanilla and chocolate are perfect picks for kids. You can also save money on bowls and spoons by heading to the local dollar store instead of a supermarket or party store.

Other budget-friendly dessert options

If the birthday girl or boy isn’t a fan of ice cream, think about making your own cake or cupcakes. Baking the dessert at home is definitely more cost-effective than ordering from a bakery. Cakes don’t have to be extravagant either. Kids are happy with icing and sprinkles. Homemade cookies are another great choice. Let kids use a container of store-bought icing to decorate their cookies. Add sprinkles, and they become birthday cookies.

Hosting a birthday party for your child often comes with a big price tag that isn’t necessarily in the family budget. Don’t think you have to splurge on catered food to make your child’s birthday party special. Children’s tastes are simple, and you can have a delicious menu kids and parents will enjoy without spending a fortune. If you’re planning a birthday party on a budget, try one or more of these nine affordable options for your menu. They are kid-approved favorites that are tasty and affordable to make.

Editors' Recommendations