December 9, 2016

Create the Ultimate Baked Potato Bar

Jan16

To open one’s home to others and welcome them to share life with you is one of the greatest gifts we have, yet often we allow our house, budget, decor, cooking skills and a host of other excuses get in the way of our hospitality.

Our family has gone through two year long periods of unemployment with the most dramatic occurring years before I began this blog. One of the main things during those times was that I didn’t want the fact that our food budget was basically nil to keep us from opening our home.

While I first l learned the beauty of hosting a Baked Potato Bar Get together as a newly married,  Junior and Senior High Youth Director, it was during that difficult time of unemployment with four little ones, when I truly appreciated how gourmet a simple food bar could become without breaking the bank.

It’s the simplest way to not only feed, but fill up the tummies of a huge group with amazing comfort food, and still stay on a budget. The wonderful thing about creating the ultimate Potato Bar is it doesn’t have to be limited to just traditional toppings.

The photos featured here were taken spontaneously during our huge family reunion last year, and yes,  we really did it up right. You can bet that I didn’t serve steak during those lean years. 🙂

While we didn’t have enough chicken and steak left over from a previous meal to feed our entire group, we had enough to put out as toppings. (And yes, the steak would need to be sliced up a bit more. 🙂

I created “zones” of varying toppings, so one could enjoy a traditional, loaded, veggie, Mexican or all of the above, kind of feast.

If you part of our family, you can find ways to put nearly anything on potatoes. So enjoy digging in the fridge and clearing it out.

Baked Potato Bars are perfect for the upcoming big game, family dinners, pot lucks, graduation parties or even receptions. Every one loves the versatility that they bring.

Yes, I admit. Potatoes are my favorite food. This just makes me happy.

For more great “food bar – entertaining a group with ease” ideas, check out my:
Build Your Own Pizza Bar
DIY Breakfast Burrito Bar

Have you ever served a Baked Potato Bar?

Did I miss any of your favorite toppings?

Sharing over at Surviving the Stores


Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing! Our family loves having baked potatoes but I never thought to do a ‘bar-style’ potato dinner…sounds fun and I’m sure the kids would love doing their own potatoes.

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    Jen Reply:

    Oh the kids LOVE piling all their choices on, you are so right. 🙂

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  2. I’ve done this but just for my husband and me. I did the potatoes in the crockpot! They were a little bit different consistency than baked in the oven but it was soooo easy.

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    Jen Reply:

    I do love the ease of the crockpot, but you are right, different consistency. There’s nothing quite like a good potato skin rubbed in garlic and butter then baked in the oven, but often, it’s tricky to get the timing right if schedules are busy and crock pot solves that dilemma.

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  3. I love potato bars! I will have to save this for ingredient ideas. Also, akismet fixed my WordPress commenting problems, so I can once again comment on your blog-yea!

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    Jen Reply:

    @April, YAY!! So glad that it was fixed. I love hearing from you. 🙂

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  4. I love the idea of a “bar” for the baked potatoes – especially when you have people over, it just makes everything more fun to DIY, even food! We always do “taco bar” but never thought about potatoes (and my garden has thousands at the moment!) Going to try this next time!

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  5. What a great idea and a neat way to use up left-overs (things that you don’t have enough of to make a meal, but would be great cut up and used as a garnish!). Think I just might have to try this – maybe on the next domino night?

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  6. We love baked potatoes in our house too. One thing I did not see on your list of things to add to a baked potato was chili. When we have left over chili at our house there is often not much left. We warm it up put it on a baked potato and it will feed more people.

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    Jen Reply:

    That is a great one. I sure wish I had thought of that when my kids were potty training. We had some wetters.

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    Jen Reply:

    oh yes, we are huge chili lovers in our house. One of my favorite toppings. IT’s funny because whenever I am at Wendy’s I want to order the potato with chili and think, WHY, I can do that so easily at home. 🙂

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  7. we do this often and I include caramelized onions, broccoli, sautéed broccoli rabe/kale/ or spinach, along with the standard other stuff. The whole family loves It and they all get some greens too.

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    Jen Reply:

    Carmelized onions are just the best thing ever with baked potatoes. I never thought of kale. That’s a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. I’ve done this with mashed potatoes too. All my guests loved my mashed potato bar…

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    Jen Reply:

    A mashed potato bar would be AMAZING!! I attended a wedding where they had this and served them in martini glasses, but I haven’t done it for my guests. Great reminder. 🙂

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  9. Vidalia. Spellcheck.

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    Jenn Reply:

    @Jane,

    HAHA!! you actually took the time to “grammar nazi” a post that is helpful and inspiring and kind?

    I know this is an old post to comment on.. but I read this and actually laughed at the pettiness of it, so I had to take a moment to share my thought on the original grammar correctors comment..

    BTW This is an awesome in depth post for a potato bar! Thank you so much! I organize little pot lucks at work and you saved my life today 😀 Everyone is getting tired of the same ol’ pot lucks we have! Time to mix things up a bit!
    haha 😀

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  10. Do you recommend plates or bowls if serving a large group?

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  11. So right! Potato bars are the best! We also have it for easy dinners not just a crowd of hungry folks. Linda

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  12. We serve cottage cheese with baked potatoes too.

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    Jen Reply:

    Isn’t it just so yummy? Definitely a favorite, even over sour cream which I did not expect. 🙂

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  13. I use half russet potatoes and half sweet potatoes for my potato bar I do for work. This gives people a different kind of potato if they don’t want just the russet. Same toppings as a russet potato would have

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    Jen Reply:

    That’s such a great idea!! Thanks for sharing. It’s perfect for those wanting something healthier than the white potatoes.

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  14. Thank for this list of items to put on a potato bar it is so helpful.
    The day after Christmas we host the extended family and this year we choose to do a potato bar.
    Our family always share the load of hosting by bringing a food itme. Yet, I was at a lost of ideas for items for them to bring. Your list will provide these and spur the imagination for more.

    Thanks for share an easy low budget answer to the question: “What can I bring?”

    jean

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    Jen Reply:

    I’m so glad this was helpful! We just love a great potato bar 🙂

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    Derek Reply:

    Thank you for all the info! I’ve been trying to plan a different type of fundraiser for our youth group and this is something I think would go over really well! It’s seems so simple.

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  15. Rhomunda B says:

    I’m going to try it as a fundraiser for our youth ministry.

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  16. We do this every summer on our big group vacation.

    We do half russet, half sweet potatoes and also have:

    Lentils or canned lentil soup (acts as a yummy sauce)
    White beans
    Chard sautéed with garlic and pepper flakes
    Corn
    Jalepenos
    French’s onions
    Crushed wonton crisps
    And whatever else needs to get used up!

    [Reply]

    Jen Reply:

    I LOVE your additions!! Thanks for sharing. Never would have thought of the lentils but such a great way to add in those healthy proteins.

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