Cheap Fundraising Food Ideas

by Pamela Mortimer
Bake sales can attract big crowds.

Creating and holding an inexpensive food fundraiser is one of the best ways for organizations to raise funds. Local businesses, individuals and even food suppliers are often willing to lend a hand by volunteering, sponsoring the event or donating food items. Other food fundraising ideas include selling premade items.

Staging a Food Fundraiser

Planning is a vital part of holding a fundraising event, particularly if you intend on cooking. Planning a sale of premade items often involves door-to-door sales by volunteers, so little planning is needed. * **Decide what to cook:** Cooking a meal or baked goods for fundraisers can be a good way to maximize profits. Decide which avenue will work best for your situation based on the number of volunteers you have and if you are able to get food donations to cut costs. * **Choose a location:** Using a restaurant or banquet hall can save time and energy, as it is already set up for service. If no such venue is available, check into a community center or fire hall, which likely will have ample kitchen facilities. * **Recruit volunteers:** Round up as many volunteers as possible to help with the event including cooking, serving and cleanup. Remember to thank volunteers after the event. * **Gauge food needs:** Figuring out how much food you'll need can be tricky. Serving sizes on packages are a helpful guideline but are generally rather small. Add 10 to 15 percent over and above the recommended serving size. * **Spread the word:** Use public service announcements on the radio, newsletters, fliers, email, websites, a phone tree and word of mouth to let everyone know the specifics.

Dinner Events

Inexpensive dinner events are easy to put together and tend to be crowd-pleasers. Providing takeout containers is another way to enhance food sales. Some good choices are: * **Spaghetti dinner** -- Perhaps the least-expensive of all food fundraiser meals. Spaghetti is often served with a small salad, bread and dessert. * **Potluck dinner** -- Potluck allows for a wide variety of food with little or no restrictions. Dish suggestions include pot roast, chili, pork and sauerkraut, tuna casserole, stroganoff and chicken and rice. * **Pancake supper** -- Pancakes are a favorite year-round. They may be served as is or with accompanying sides such as eggs and/or bacon. * **Father and daughter/mother and son dinners** -- These events may be slightly more formal, since they are catering to a specific group. * **Soup-tasting dinner** -- Much like a potluck, a soup-tasting dinner combines selections from the donating members. Soup choices might include vegetable, potato, minestrone, wedding, ham and bean, chicken, butternut squash, split pea or any specialty or family recipes.

Bake Sales

Cakes, cookies and other baked items are excellent for raising money for an organization. Items are donated by sponsors or members of the organization. These events are much like a potluck of desserts, although items do not have to be dessert oriented. One of the keys to a successful bake sale is offering a variety of items, but keep the variety to five or six choices to make items for the bake sale easier to prepare, package and sell. Offer pie, cake, cookies, brownies and a specialty item. Offer gluten-free or vegan options to serve a wider variety of customers. Stage the bake sale in a high-traffic location such as a mall or supermarket for the best possible results.

Tasting Events

Cooking competitions and wine-tasting events can draw large crowds. The cost of the ticket is somewhat higher for customers but well worth it for participants. In competitions, entrants supply all of their own food while wine-tasting events are generally sponsored. Contacting local wineries, culinary schools, restaurants and catering companies may net some free food or advice. Casual food-tasting events may include a chili cook-off, barbecue competition or a tour of cafes and food trucks. For a more elegant event, arrange a wine-and-cheese tasting, ethnic foods sampler or around-the-world cuisine.

Premade Items

Cookies have been a big seller for decades and have inspired equally successful premade food items for sale. Premade food can consist of purchased items such as candy bars or homemade items in the form of a boxed lunch or sandwiches. The opportunity for profits is as big as your imagination. Breads, pizza, chocolates and popcorn are good items for school fundraisers and can easily be transferred to other organizations. There are also healthier options for fundraisers as seen on [Healthier Generation](https://www.healthiergeneration.org/take_action/schools/snacks_and_beverages/fundraisers/). Another option is to approach restaurants for gift cards or discount cards that can be resold to customers.

About the Author

Pamela Mortimer has been a professional writer for more than 20 years with expertise in many areas including arts, culture, business and the printing trade. She is also a novelist, seasoned editor and graphic designer.

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