As it was my birthday last week, I decided to bring in a few platters to share with my colleagues at lunchtime during the week. I’d included this expense in this month’s budget and I allocated R250.00 in total, for both food and drinks, to serve 15-18 people. The only way I could stay within my budget was to cook and bake and prepare all the food that I was going to take to work, myself. That’s exactly what I did.


You might think now, well, how much could she actually serve for R250.00? Food is generally expensive and I had to make sure I had enough food to serve 15-18 people generously. Had I decided to order platters or even to buy ready-made snacks or food in the shops, I definitely would have paid a lot more! But I didn’t. I spent about R220.00 for all the ingredients (both food and drinks) and probably another R30.00 in electricity costs. It took me a total of about 6 hours to prepare all the goodies as well as arrange it all on platters.


Here is what I served:


  • A platter of Cucumber Sandwiches and Sandwich Spread, Carrot & Lettuce Sandwiches


  • A platter of Tuna & Corn Fritters, Meatballs & Cherry Tomatoes


  • Cheese & Biltong Bread Sticks




  • Cool Drinks (4 large bottles)


Party Snacks


Here is how I saved:


I bought all the fruit and vegetables very cheaply at Apple Tree Fresh Food Market: lettuce, cherry tomatoes and cucumber. I had a couple of carrots in the fridge already (those were part of a 5kg carrot bag which I bought for R10.00!). Instead of Biltong pieces I used Biltong powder in the cheese sticks which is cheaper but still makes for yummy cheese sticks! I used a cheaper cut of Gouda for the cheese sticks as well (I didn’t use processed cheese).


I made plain Millie Meal & Polenta Bread and didn’t add Feta cheese which would have brought the cost up. Instead of using 2 tins of tuna which the Tuna & Corn Fitters recipe called for, I used only 1 and realised that it doesn’t really alter the taste that much. I decided to make Banana bread and Cinnamon Swirl loaves as a sweet treat which altogether cost me less in both ingredients and electricity, and tasted much better, than any of the cheaper cakes you could buy at a supermarket (which I didn’t really want to do anyway).


Party Snacks


All the recipes I used were fairly inexpensive recipes which yielded a whole lot of food. I had 2 Banana bread loaves and 2 Cinnamon Swirl loaves as well as 5 trays of Cheese & Biltong sticks, and I didn’t double up on any ingredients! Making vegetarian sandwiches was much, much cheaper too and since we had bite-sized meatballs as well Tuna & Corn Fritters, it didn’t really matter that there was no ham or any other cold meats in the sandwiches. I used only about 250gr. of minced meat to prepare the meatballs and this yielded in total about 40 bite-sized meatballs.


The end result of all my efforts? The platters were polished! Everyone enjoyed the goodies and I was happy to be able to share yummy foods and treats with my colleagues without going over my budget.


What do you think of these birthday treats? Do you have any of your favourite and inexpensive birthday treats that you like to prepare? Let me know by leaving me a comment below.


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