Food & Drink

Explore ethnic foods for bargain party eats

The economy is likely to pinch most people's entertaining budgets this holiday season. But don't stop the parties quite yet. There are ways to throw a nice bash without breaking the bank.

Hands down, finger food is a better bargain than big meals. Serving a selection of festive hors d'oeuvres is an inexpensive way to put out an impressive spread.

Warehouse clubs can be good places to shop, but there also are plenty of options at your local supermarket. Venturing into the international sections will yield inexpensive, yet exotic options.

In the Asian section, you can find snack mixes made with sweet and salty glazed rice crackers and sesame sticks.

Italian and Spanish food sections are usually filled with relatively inexpensive jarred items, such as marinated mushrooms and peppers and roasted vegetable dips.

If you are going to serve more than soft drinks, avoid an open bar, which you will have to stock with a wide variety of liquors, beer and wine. Instead, serve a single signature cocktail, such as margaritas or mojitos, and perhaps a single type of beer or wine, which can be purchased cheaper by the case.

These Mexican tortilla cups have the crowd-pleasing flavors of tangy cheese and salsa, and can be prepared for less than 20 cents each.

They take only 30 minutes, but you can prepare the crispy tortilla cups up to a week ahead and store them in an airtight container. The assembled cups can be baked up to two days ahead, then reheated in a 350-degree oven.