A baked potato bar is the perfect way to host a party. It's easy on the budget and always a crowd favorite. Plus, crock pot baked potatoes make preparations a breeze!
We love to have friends over and do so quite often, if you haven't been able to tell from Instagram. We love to entertain during the holidays, throw parties, and even host barbecues for the whole neighborhood. What we don't like? Breaking the budget to have these get togethers!
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Lucky for you, I have a few helpful entertaining-on-the-cheap tips for you, starting with one of my favorite ways to feed a crowd… The baked potato bar using crock pot baked potatoes! I've got some great tricks to put up your sleeve that'll make it as effortless and easy for you as possible. You'll be chowin' down on a baked potato and visiting with your guests in no time!
DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO SERVE FOR YOUR BAKED POTATO BAR
Before you go to the grocery store, decide which recipes you want to use and make a list of all the ingredients you'll need for the recipes. Shop your pantry, fridge and freezer first (ahem, shelf cooking, always do it!), then get everything else from the store.
Before shopping, though, it's always good to check out Deals To Meals or your grocery ads to see if any of the ingredients you need are on sale at your local stores. I'm very particular in how I shop for my groceries, and you should be, too!
Potatoes are one of those kitchen staples for me, so I pretty much always have a lot of them on hand, ready to come to my aid when they're called to action. When it comes to entertaining, I'm a bit OCD about not having enough food for my guests. I always live on the cautious side of life and make too much food. Thank goodness pretty much all of the baked potato bar food is great leftover!
THE BEST BAKED POTATO BAR TOPPINGS
You really can't go wrong with the basic potato toppings. It's also fun to step it up a notch and make some extra, unexpected toppings that your guests are sure to love and be super excited about.
Here are some of our favorite baked potato bar toppings:
- Bacon Bits
- Green Onion
- Sour Cream
- Parmesan Cheese
- Ranch Dressing
- Diced Tomatoes
- Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Cooked Meats
One of the best things about a potato bar is that you can use leftovers and your guests will never know! Use that leftover meat that you have sitting in the fridge that needs to be eaten. Just chop it up and reheat it right before you're ready to eat. A 3-crock pot server is the perfect way to keep any soups, meats and even the cornbread warm. I seriously love mine. I recommend it to anyone who entertains even a fraction as much as I do!
ASK YOUR GUESTS TO BRING SOMETHING
Don't ever feel bad about asking your guests to bring something with them when they come! Most of the time, they're more than happy to bring it. Bonus, it really helps to take some of the load off your shoulders. We usually assign salads, sides and desserts and I've never had anybody complain about having to bring something.
HOW TO PREP FOR THE BAKED POTATO BAR
Even though we don't usually have people over until dinner, I like to wake up and get started on dinner prep right away. That way, I can get most of it done and relax the rest of the day. It's always good to have a schedule of what time you need to be doing what, such as putting the potatoes in the crock pot and making any soups or breads to go along with it. You'll be less stressed and it'll help your day to go easier!
PREPARE ALL NON-PERISHABLE DINNER SUPPLIES AND ANY TOPPINGS
I lay out everything I will need for my dinner, so all I have to do is toss it all in the crock pot when the time comes to cook it all.
I even like to chop up my baked potato bar toppings and put them in individual airtight containers in the fridge. (Leftover baby food containers work great for this. I love them and use them for EVERYTHING!) That way, all I have to do is pull them out when the company comes, take the lids off, add a spoon, and they're ready to go!
MAKE CROCK POT BAKED POTATOES
The crock pot is the absolute easiest way to go when it comes to baking them! Of course, you can do it in the oven, but the crock pot is convenient because you can start them and forget them. You're able to go about your day, go to church, clean your house, do whatever, and dinner is cooking all by itself without you. It's great!
Use this recipe and you'll never want to make them in the oven again. It's super easy for your next baked potato bar or any weeknight meals.
Crock Pot Baked Potatoes
- 10-12 Small Baking Potatoes
- Olive Oil, optional
- Sea Salt, optional
- Wash and dry potatoes.
- Stab with a fork.
- Rub olive oil all over and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Wrap in aluminum foil.
- Fill crock pot with potatoes.
- Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours, or until tender.
So quick, easy and pain-free! You can also do this with sweet potatoes. It may be good to have a few of those on hand if someone is wanting a healthier potato to chow down on.
MAKE ANY TOPPINGS
If you go the route with the extra-delicious toppings (which I highly recommend!), then get those going when it's time. I usually cook the broccoli cheese soup in the morning, let it cool, then stick it in the fridge. Then an hour or so before we're going to eat, I'll get it out and stick it in the crock pot on warm to heat it back up. I'll cook the chili on the stove, then put it in the crock pot on low for a while so it can simmer and really come together.
Right before company arrives, I make a quick batch of my awesome 20-minute cornbread. It's so easy, and I want it hot and fresh, so I don't make it ahead of time and I'm always glad I didn't. I cut up my cornbread and put it in the server crock pot and put on “warm” so the bread will be nice and toasty when it's time to eat.
THE BEST WAY TO SERVE A BAKED POTATO BAR
I like to put out plates AND bowls for my guests. Some people will have soup on the side, some people will put the soup ON their potato, and some people will smash up half a potato in the bottom of a bowl, pour soup on top of it, then cover the soup with the potato toppings. All ways are delish!
There's always tons of food to go around, and it's one of the cheapest meals that I'll serve for a get together. We always have a blast and everybody raves when we have baked potato bar parties!
Now isn't that just about the easiest way that you can come up with to feed a crowd? What are your favorite toppings to put out with a baked potato bar? Let me know in the comments!
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Looking for more great ideas from me?
- Most of us have a checking and savings account, but do you have the other 5 that I suggest?! Learn all about the 7 bank accounts that every family should have!
- See what a grocery haul for my family of 10 looks like!
- Calling all non-bakers out there! Make your family some bread using the easiest bread recipe that you'll find!