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Super Bowl Party Trays: Is it Cheaper to Make Your Own Meat and Cheese Tray?

When it comes to the Super Bowl what I look forward to the most are the commercials, the socializing, and the food. I get a little choked up at the singing of the national anthem, and I can’t help but smile when seeing the players hit the field in all their glory.

But my true enjoyment comes from the gathering itself (especially those funny commercials).

Many Super Bowl parties I’ve attended over the years involve party trays ordered from grocery stores. I’ve never ordered one myself because I assumed that they would be very costly.

This year, I wondered “is it cheaper to make your own meat and cheese trays”?

So, I decided to look into the cost of party trays, and then try to recreate them at home to see if doing so makes sense.

What I found is that you can save around 34-37% of the cost by making your own fruit and vegetable trays. However, the cost savings on a cold cuts tray by making your own is not that much (8.4%).

Here’s a breakdown of store-bought trays from Walmart, HEB, and Kroger’s, as well as the cost to make my own. Please note that I tried my best to replicate the store bought trays (photos below):

 Walmart (serves 15-20)HEB (serves 10-15)Kroger’s (serves 12-16)Make Your Own (serves 10-15)Cost Savings (from lowest store-bought price)
Veggie Tray with Ranch Dip$25.00$19.99$24.99$12.45$7.54 (37.7%)
Fruit Tray with Vanilla Yogurt Dip$25.00 (includes cheeses)$29.99$29.99$16.30$8.70, (34.8%)
Cold Cuts Tray$35.00$32.99$29.99$26.45$2.54, (8.4%)

Psst: trying to feed a crowd? You'll definitely want to check out my articles on easy meals for large groups on vacation, inexpensive meals for large groups, and best winter meals for a crowd.

Homemade Party Trays

For each of the party trays I purchased the actual tray from the 99₵ store. This cost, as well as the cost of the dips has been added into the overall cost above.

fruit and fruit dip tray for the superbowl

For the fruit tray I made a Dairy Princess fruit dip recipe (with a ton of dairy in it; and yes, yours truly was a Dairy Princess when I was 16). The recipe is at the end of this article. Fruits include grapes, oranges, apples, strawberries, and a pineapple (included in the cost, but not included in the tray because I could not find room).

three DIY Superbowl Party trays with veggies, dips, sandwich fixings, on top of a homemade football field cloth

The cost of the meat tray includes a jar of pickles. Also included is roast beef, honey ham, turkey, provolone, and cheddar.

three DIY Superbowl Party trays with veggies, dips, sandwich fixings, on top of a homemade football field cloth

For the vegetable tray I used straight Ranch dressing as the dip (included in price).

Tips to Save More Money on Homemade Trays

Since I was attempting to mimic the grocery store party trays for this article, I spent money that I did not necessarily need to spend. For your own homemade trays, you can save money by using your own platters or saved platters from previous party tray purchases (I would not recommend putting these plastic trays into a dishwasher). In order to accurately mimic these trays I also purchased mid-ranged deli meats. You could potentially save more money on your own homemade cold cuts tray by purchasing less expensive cuts of meat and cheeses.

Cost of the Football Field Tablecloth

I have an artsy/creative side that has needed an outlet lately. About a year ago I got the idea to make a green football tablecloth for food tables at football parties…and I am so happy I’ve been given the chance to do so! The cost for making this was $17.66 (this does not include the cost of painter’s tape, which we had on-hand). The supplies were a bottle of fabric paint, two yards of duck canvas fabric from Jo-Ann’s (scored for 50% off!), a foam brush, sharpie marker, a measuring tape, and painter’s tape.

three DIY Superbowl Party trays with veggies, dips, sandwich fixings, on top of a homemade football field cloth

Fruit Dip

8 oz. package cream cheese
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup cold milk
1 package (3.4 oz.) instant vanilla pudding mix

In a mixing bowl cream together cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth. Add sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice, milk and pudding mix and mix until smooth. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. Serve as a dip for fruit.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 10 years, her money work helping people with how to save money and how to manage money has been featured in Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here.

Mary

Monday 19th of March 2012

Re: "the cost savings on a cold cuts tray by making your own is not that much (8.4%)." My own computation made your savings for the cold cuts tray a bit higher. The "lowest store-bought price" minus "Make Your Own" ($29.99 minus $26.45) equals $3.54, to save 11.8%. By the way, you did a great job on your trays.

Matt

Wednesday 1st of February 2012

I love your use of a table to show comparison's. I've been on a bit of a table kick myself lately, except mine usually compare investment numbers and what-not.

Forwarding the fruit dip recipe to my wife. Perhaps we will be enjoying it this Sunday!

FruGal

Wednesday 1st of February 2012

Hi Matt!

Glad you enjoyed. Happy Superbowl:).

Barbara Friedberg

Monday 30th of January 2012

The fruit dip looks amazing. I can't wait for the Superbowl. Go Giants!!!

FruGal

Tuesday 31st of January 2012

Thanks! I'm not rooting for one team or another...just the commercials:).

Andi @MealPlanRescue

Monday 30th of January 2012

I love your trays, they all look so professional. Homemade really is the way to go, but I have to say the only thing that irritates me more than wasting money on precut vegetables is baby carrots. Carrots don't have babies! But it's always good in ranch dip.

FruGal

Tuesday 31st of January 2012

Hehe:). You can definitely cut your own carrots. They are the only thing that I bought "pre-cut".

John @ Married (with Debt)

Monday 30th of January 2012

Sweet trays - nice work! I picked a bad month to start a diet...

FruGal

Monday 30th of January 2012

Thank you! I was surprised with how well they came out (I have never made a tray before).