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Party Food on a Budget

  • Posted by Alex Bruderlin
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It’s the time of year when you want to throw a party – celebrate summer or the holidays! But parties can be expensive, especially when it comes to food. Tony Hakim Food Lovers have a few times on how to organize party food on a budget.

Party food doesn't have to break the bank. Image via Horrible Housewife.

Party food doesn't have to break the bank. Image via Horrible Housewife.

Plan Ahead

Half the battle with any sort of party or celebration is planning ahead.

First of all, make sure you have a budget in place. A budget will determine so many things about your party and your menu. After you’ve set your budget, work out what kind of party you want it to be – barbeque, buffet, lunch, dinner, hot, cold. Once you’ve settled on that, you can work out how many guests you can invite. Whilst an ‘open invitation’ style party might sound like fun, that can blow the budget entirely. The amount of people you can invite depends on your budget, menu style and location.

 Barbeques are a great and inexpensive main course. Image via Confetti Couture

Barbeques are a great and inexpensive main course. Image via Confetti Couture

The Menu

So, you have your location, party style and budget in place. Time to talk food!

Side Dishes

First of all, most of the time, making something at home will be cheaper than buying things premade – dips are a perfectly example. There are loads of recipes online for delicious dips that you can whip together in a few minutes.

Things like chips, nuts and soft drink can definitely blow the budget – aim for the products on sale, and always check the price per 100g to make sure that the sale price is a great deal. Whilst cans or single-serve bottles might seem like a great idea, they are often far more expensive per L than 1 or 2L bottles.

Salads might seem boring, but it’s not hard to jazz them up. A few day-old slices of bread in the toaster with a little olive oil, and you’ve got the most delicious croutons imaginable. A small piece of pumpkin or sweet potato roasted in the oven can be diced and tossed over a salad for something that is both tasty and attractive.

Pasta salads are another overlooked hero - dried pasta is cheap and easy to cook, and can be paired with a variety of sauces, veggies and meats for delicious hot or cold sides.


Main course, if you are providing lunch or dinner, can be where the budget is broken or your offering falls short. Just keep it simple!

Sandwiches are a great staple at parties, since you can put anything between bread and people will be happy. If you are providing salads, you can use the same ingredients in your sandwiches to guarantee nothing goes to waste. A make-your-own salad or sandwich bar is also a fun and simple way to serve food; just arrange your ingredients in plates and bowls, and let people come up with their own combinations.

If you are having a barbeque, talk to a local butcher. They can often do deals if you give them your budget and guest numbers. Barbeques are great, because so many things taste amazing on the grill! Skip fancy steaks, and go for sausages, chicken or beef skewers (very budget friendly if you dice and marinate the meat yourself), veggie skewers and hamburgers (hamburger patties are another item that are far cheaper to make at home than buy ready-made.)


Don’t be one of those people who doesn’t provide dessert. We love dessert. But it can be tricky.

Ice cream can be hit or a miss, depending on the crowd, and expensive if you want flavours or toppings. If you are having a summer party, ice blocks (like Zooper Dooper) are a fun and inexpensive treat both kids and adults will enjoy.

Cupcakes and brownies are unsung heroes of desserts. Brownies are ideal, since they can be sliced at any size; cupcakes can be iced for any celebration at no extra cost. Avoid boxed mixes, and make from scratch.

Fruit salad is another under-appreciated dessert. Served on skewers with marshmallows, they look amazing – and presented with a bowl of vanilla yoghurt to dip offers both another flavour combination and an attractive presentation.

Simple is delicious - fresh ingredients make all the difference. Image via Food Wallpaper

Simple is delicious - fresh ingredients make all the difference. Image via Food Wallpaper

In the End

Party food on a budget is all about planning and creativity – and knowing your limits. The smaller the party, the further food and your budget will stretch. Here are our final quick-tips.

  • Lunch parties are better than dinner parties – people eat less, and there is less of a social obligation to provide alcohol.
  • Presentation is key. Serving things on plates and in bowls rather than in their packaging will make things look so much better.
  • If someone offers to bring something, take them up on it. Potato salad, coleslaw, bread rolls or drinks are super easy for guests to transport.
  • When it comes to drinks, ice can be expensive. If you fill an esky or metal tub with ice, it will stay much colder than plastic.
  • Disposable plates and cutlery can get expensive very fast. Use your own flatware, and go for disposable cups and napkins instead.

Healthy Midnight Snack Ideas

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We all know that dinner is the last meal of the day. But sometimes, you need a late-night snack. And whilst it might be tempting to eat left over pizza or grab the ice cream and a spoon, that can be a diet-killer. Here at Tony Hakim Food Lovers, we’ve put together a list of our favourite healthy midnight snacks that taste great at any time of the day or night.

Something Quick

For those times when you want to make something quick on the spot, we’ve picked these six recipes. A lot of people crave sweet foods late at night, and whilst these are sweet, they have far less sugar and more health benefits than normal cakes, shakes and snacks.


Banana, Honey and Sultana Wraps


Red Fruit Salad and Yoghurt

Photo Jan 03, 12 53 24 PM

Avocado Smash


Peanut Butter Honey Yoghurt Dip


Blueberry and Granola Yoghurt Parfait


Chocolate Avocado Milkshake

Make Ahead

If you just like to have something you can grab when you get the munchies that won’t make you feel like sprinting to the gym, these recipes are perfect to make ahead, and keep on hand.


Carrot and Cumin Dip


Baked Tuna and Spinach Patties


Ambrosia Parfait


Midnight Brownies


Strawberry-Banana Four Ingredient Ice Cream


Mini Tomato and Mozzarella Tarts

Our tips?

  •         Fruit and honey do have sugar, so make sure you control your portion sizes. Flavoured yoghurts also include a lot of sugar, so go for the natural kind, or check out the nutritional information before you buy.
  •         Vegetables are amazing, and you should ideally have five serves per day. Adding a serve of veggies to your midnight snack is a great way to increase your intake, make something tasty and snack guilt free!
  •         Portion sizes matter – it’s called a ‘snack’ for a reason. Eat slowly, and make sure you have a drink (water or milk is ideal late at night) to go with it. If you are worried about how much you are eating, mini-versions of things are a great way to cut back.

The Best Picnic Recipes

  • Posted by Alex Bruderlin
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With beautiful weather here to stay, it is the perfect time of year for a picnic. And while it might be fun to grab fish and chips or a pizza and sit in the park, there is definitely something to be said for bringing your own home-cooked fare out into the world. The Tony Hakim Food Lovers team have picked out the best picnic recipes, no matter what your taste!

Side Dishes

1. Antipasto Skewers

Antipasto Skewers

2. Crispy Rosemary Potato Chips

Crispy Rosemary Potato Chips

3. Corn, Cheese and Chive Mini Muffins

Corn Cheese and Chive Mini Muffins

4. Curried Nuts

Curried Nuts



5. Caprese Salad

Simple Caprese Salad

6. Mediterranean Tortellini Salad

Mediterranean Tortellini Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

7. Picnic Potato Salad

Picnic Potato Salad

8. Greek Pasta Salad

Greek Pasta Salad



9. Curry Lime Pork Kebabs

Curry-Lime Pork Kebabs

10. Picnic Bacon and Egg Pie

Picnic Bacon and Egg Pie

11. Tourte Milanese

Tourte Milanese

12. Garden Tuna Salad Sandwich

Garden Tuna Salad Sandwich



13. Strawberry Shortcake Skewers

Strawberry Shortcake Skewers

16. Raspberry Tart

Quick and Easy Raspberry Tart

14. Lemon Cookies

Lemon Cookies

15. Blueberry and Sour Cream Tartlets

Blueberry and Sour Cream Tartlets


Our picnic tips?

  • Packing your own plates and cutlery is awkward, and most disposable supplies just add to our landfill. Aim for eco-friendly and biodegradable products like Bambu and Island Picnic.
  • Food on skewers is fun and mess-free – just be wary of the pointed end, and file them down for any children.
  •  Bring plenty to drink – the days are definitely warming up.


Our Guide to Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

  • Posted by Alex Bruderlin
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With the holiday season coming up, holiday parties are well on their way to being planned. And while everyone loves a celebratory drink, not everyone wants to drink alcohol. Tony Hakim Food Lovers has this guide to non-alcoholic cocktails for your holiday season.

Non-alcoholic cocktails – or ‘mocktails’, as they are often referred to – are simply mixed drinks that don’t contain any alcohol. They are perfect for everyone – people who do not drink, people who cannot drink and kids.

Fruity Concoctions


Passionfruit Summer Drink


Cranberry Rosemary Refresher


Virgin Mimosa


Pineapple Sparkler

Something Simple


Ginger Lemon Mocktail

Strawberry Cucumber Limeade


Ginger Basil Grapefruit Spritzer


Ginger Beer Lemonade

Non Alcoholic Favourites

1. Virgin-Frozen-Margarita-recipe-taste-and-tell

Virgin Frozen Margaritas


Banana Pina Colada


Mango Mock-a-lada


Pomegranate & Cranberry Bellinis

Our Tips

  • A good non-alcoholic cocktail isn’t just fruit juice with soda water, or soft drink with a mint leaf. Mix different fruit juices and soft drinks together to get a hit of flavour – fruit puree is also excellent in mocktails. Fresh fruit slices are also great additions.
  • Make sure you serve them ice cold, especially if you are using fruit puree.
  • Traditional mixers like soda water, cranberry juice and ginger ale are also perfect in a mocktail – set up a table and let people create their own!
  • Ideal for almost any celebratory scenario, we like them best at picnics or large gatherings with children.

20 Easy to Make Dinner Recipes

  • Posted by Alex Bruderlin
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Not everyone wants to spend their entire evening in the kitchen. And time is definitely a premium in modern life. For those who aren’t quite so confident in the kitchen, the Tony Hakim Food Lovers team put together this list of 20 easy to make dinner recipes that cover everything from fancy to fast, soups and seafood, and even cater to your take-out cravings!

Baked Chicken Parmesan

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

A great, last-minute winter warmer that goes great with grilled veggies.

Easy Hoisin Prawns

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

Perfect for when those Chinese food cravings hit.

Baked Risotto

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

No patience for traditional risotto? This baked version is both delicious and easy.

One Pot Lo-Mein


Perfect for using up any leftovers

Cheesy Spinach and Bacon Quesadillas

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

Delicious, super-fast comfort food

Loaded Baked Potatoes

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

A classic standby that can be entirely customized to your tastes.

Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowls

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

A quick and healthy Mexican option

Easiest Shrimp Scampi

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

The perfect dish to ‘show-off’ with.

Prawn and Snow Pea Stir Fry with Chili, Miso and Tomato

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

A spicy, full-of-flavour Asian-inspired option.

Sesame Chicken Bites with Honey-Mustard Sauce

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

Perfect for parties, picnics and kids!

Easy Pepper Steak

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

A delicious classic.

Vietnamese Caramel Pork Stir Fry

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

Another great dish to whip out for guests

Stuffed Zucchini

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

Quick, easy and super healthy.

Beef Korma

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

Why pay for take away curry when you can make your own?

Cider-Dijon Pork Chops with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

Perfect for a get together with friends.

Roast Beef Summer Rolls

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

A great summer option that can be customized for both meat eaters and vegetarians.

Blender Gazpacho

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

This chilled tomato soup is a healthy and tasty summer classic.

Bacon and Eggs over Asparagus

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

Breakfast for dinner just got fancy.

Cobb Salad Pita Pockets

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

Another great option for summer.

Lamb and Tomato Curry

Easy Dinners via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

A healthy and delicious flavour combination.

Cooking for Christmas

  • Posted by Alex Bruderlin
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Christmas is usually a stressful time for families, with all the planning and shopping that has to go into the holiday. Food is often the most stressful part of Christmas, especially if you are planning a large family gathering or expecting a steady stream of guests over the holiday period. So the team at Tony Hakim Food Lovers have put together a guide to Cooking for Christmas, stress-free!

Planning your Christmas via Tony Hakim Food Lovers

Plan your Christmas menu to be enjoyable and stress-free. Image via News Australia.


Do you want to host Christmas lunch at your house for the entire clan or just your immediate family? Do you want a formal meal or a more casual, buffet-style meal? These are all things that you should take into account. Make these decisions early and stick to them. Remember that the more elaborate the meal is, the more time you will spend chained to the kitchen.

You also need to know your budget – the online shopping features on Coles and Woolworths are a useful tool when working out roughly what Christmas groceries are going to cost you. Don’t break the bank. Stick to what you can afford, and shop around – the price of ham and turkey gets competitive during the holidays.

The Menu

In Australia, Christmas is in the summer, and usually warm. Which means that the traditional roast dinner can be very heavy – and time consuming to prepare.

A popular alternative is a seafood lunch, which is much easier but can be costly, and extremely competitive – some fish markets have Christmas Eve queues that start at 4am.

Here at Tony Hakim Food Lovers, for large gatherings, we’re a big fan of the buffet-style menu. Buffet-style keeps things organized, and allows a lot of flexibility as far as cost, preparation and potential food intolerances go.

Once you’ve settled on your menu, write your shopping list. Things like cooking staples can be added to a normal weekly shop. Big-ticket items should be pre-ordered or reserved to avoid disappointment. A stress-free option? Place an order online for grocery delivery. Those slots do fill up fast, though, so get in fast.


The actual cooking can be the most time consuming and stressful part of the whole day. But as the host, you get to choose what to serve. A Christmas barbeque takes a lot less preparation than a six kilo turkey.

If you are set on more traditional menu items, choose to serve things cold – platters of cold turkey and ham are delicious and a lot easier to manage. It also means that you can cook things in the days leading up. A lot of things – bread, biscuits and cakes – can be bought or cooked early in December and frozen in small batches.

Salads are a great alternative to vegetables – fresh and delicious in summer, you can buy bagged greens and assemble different types. Salad assembly is also a great job for any kids in your household.

For dessert, you have a lot of options – a Pavlova is just as aesthetically striking as a gingerbread house. A tiramisu is a popular Australian dessert, and a lot easier to make than a Christmas pudding.

 In fact, Christmas pudding is the one thing that is worth buying premade. The Lions Club makes Christmas puddings annually, a major part of their fundraising. Heston Blumenthal’s trendy Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding is available from Coles. There are some many options for pudding that you are certain to find one that suits your menu and budget – often for less than it would cost to make yourself.

In the end…

Christmas cooking is as stressful as you make it. Keep it casual, keep it fun and keep it easy. Get your family in on the preparations, and delegate. Keep a list of everything that needs to be done – in order – and simply work your way through.

Our tips?

  • Coloured bowls or plastic wrap is an easy way to label foods for anyone with allergies or intolerances.
  • Stock up on dishwashing liquid or use disposable plates (we highly recommend the eco-friendly Bambu range)
  • Drinks, ice and side dishes are perfect for people who want to bring something – easy to acquire and transport.
  • Pre-packaged foods might seem convenient, but can often blow the budget. Save these for the big ticket items like ham, turkey or Christmas pudding.
  • Keep it simple. It’s your Christmas, you should enjoy it.










A Gluten-Free Day: Our Guide for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

  • Posted by Alex Bruderlin
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Over the last few years, gluten-free products have become more readily available – which is excellent news for anyone suffering from a gluten intolerance, or Celiac disease. Tony Hakim has this guide to a gluten-free day of delicious food, for any lifestyle or occasion!

Breakfast Quinoa


Something Quick: Honey-Nut Bars

Everyday: Breakfast Quinoa

Something Special: Banana Pancakes



Something Quick: Teriyaki Chickpea Salad Wrap

Everyday: BLT Salad

Something Special: Quinoa Tabbouleh with Blackened Prawns

 sesame chicken


Something Quick: Avocado & Prawn Risotto

Everyday: Sesame Chicken

Something Special: Veal Cutlets with Crispy Potatoes & Cherry Sauce



Vegetable and Green Onion Pikelets

Crispy Oven Fries

Fried Zucchini & Dill Dip

1. Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes


Chocolate Fudge

Chocolate Cupcakes


  • Talk to your doctor before you diagnose yourself with any intolerance or illness; or if you decide to drastically change your diet. A doctor or dietician will help you create an eating plan that is both safe and healthy.

6 Spring Smoothie Recipes You Have to Try

  • Posted by Alex Bruderlin
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Winter is finally on its way out and spring is on its way! With the beautiful, sunny days we’ve been having, it’s time to embrace warm-weather staples like fresh, seasonal fruit. Here at Tony Hakim Food Lovers, we’ve picked out six of our favourite spring smoothies that you have to try!

1. Mango Yoghurt Smoothie

Mango Yoghurt Breakfast Smoothie

With mangos starting to appear for the warmer seasons, this is definitely one to try.

 2. Banana and Coconut Smoothie

Coconut & Banana Smoothie

1. Mango Yoghurt Smoothie

Mango and Passionfruit Smoothie with Basil

We can’t help it, we just love mangos! Mango and passionfruit are a classic combination – the basil is a great accompaniment.

 4. Raspberry and Cranberry Smoothie

Raspberry-Cranberry Smoothie

A beautiful and delicious combination – cranberries have amazing health benefits.

 5. Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Another classic flavour combination that is a great way recipe for kids or the reluctant smoothie-drinkers.

 6. Fruit Surprise Smoothie

Fruit Surprise Smoothie

This vegan recipe looks as good as it tastes; the layering relies on the density of the fruits, so definitely follow the recipe carefully!

Our Smoothie Tips?

  • Using ice cream definitely adds sugar and calories. Aim for the healthier options of frozen yoghurt or plain yoghurt.
  • A handful of oats will make a smoothie even more filling and is extra healthy – a great breakfast that will give you tons of energy.
  • Frozen fruit works just as well as fresh fruit for smoothies – save the fresh for eating, and drink the frozen! Supermarkets usually keep a good selection of berries, as well as mango, in the freezer section.

Foods That Increase Your Metabolism

  • Posted by Tony Hakim
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Summer is fast approaching and everyone is out there getting themselves into shape. At Tony Hakim Food Lovers, we know that every little tip helps. This is why we compiled this overview of great foods that will help you achieve your goals. All the following foods help increase your metabolism, one of the most defining factors in any weight loss attempt.


Tony Hakim Long Black Coffee

Long Black Coffee via Perfect Coffee at Work

What’s everyone’s favourite hot, dark and bitter drink? That’s right, coffee. Coffee contains caffeine that increases your metabolic rate but also acts as a hunger suppressant (just watch how many sugars you put in). Coffee also has a range of anti-oxidants that your body will really love.


Tony Hakim Garlic

Garlic via The Candida Diet

Garlic is another food that increases your metabolism, in fact it works two fold, having chemicals that make it easier for your body to burn fat in general. So get some more garlic into your diet, just make you have a breath mint handy.


Fibre via Stroke Smart

Fibre via Stroke Smart

Fibre is a well-known requirement of your body but sometimes it can be hard to get enough, well here’s some more motivation. Fibre has the ability help regulate your blood sugar level and in turn increase your metabolism.


Winter may be over but don't put. Photo via www.pantryspa.com

Winter may be over but don't put. Photo via www.pantryspa.com

Winter may be over but don’t put away that citrus just yet, as well as vitamin C many citrus fruits (lemons, oranges and lime for example) contain chemicals that increase your metabolic rate. These are especially great because they contain almost no calories, so zest away this summer.


. If you want something that will really fill. Photo via www.coreperformance.com

. If you want something that will really fill. Photo via www.coreperformance.com

If you want something that will really fill you up and help you lose weight go for lean meats. Meats like lean chicken and beef are filling, low in fat and hard to break down. This means your body has to use relatively large amounts of energy processing them and in turn increasing your metabolism.

Needless to say, eating only these foods does not make a balanced diet and you shouldn’t be drinking more than 2-3 cups of coffee a day. Remember, good health includes a balanced diet including a variety of fruits, vegetables and proteins.


Perfect Coffee at Work

The Candida Diet

How to start your own veggie patch

  • Posted by Elle Mackintosh
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Growing your own fruits and vegetables is really rewarding. Tony Hakim loves being able to just step outside and grab some super fresh veggies to munch on. That’s why he has put together some tips on how to start your own veggie patch.

Why grow your own veggies?

Tony Hakim Family Veggie Garden

Family Veggie Garden via Redeem Your Ground

Unlike going to the supermarket, growing your own vegetables means that you won’t have to worry about what kind of pesticides and other nasties might have been used on your veggies.

If you have kids, they will absolutely love to watch the veggies grow. Also, getting them more engaged with growing the vegetables will make them more enthusiastic about eating them.

You will notice that the texture and flavour of your own vegetables will be much nicer than the supermarket stuff. This means that you will be able to create delicious seasonal dishes to impress your family and friends.

Choosing a spot

You don’t need a huge area for a veggie patch; in fact you can even plant your veggies in some pots if all you have is a balcony to work with. The best place for a veggie patch will have lots of lovely sunlight and warmth. It is also good to keep in mind where your water source is. It might be a bit inconvenient to put it at the opposite end of the garden to the water tap.


The ideal soil for growing vegetables needs to be nice and moist, able to drain well and is rich in organic material. In order to test if your soil is good enough, first dig it up to aerate it, then soak an area of the soil and come back the next day to dig up a handful. Give the soil a hard squeeze in your hand and if water comes out, you will need to add some organic matter to improve the drainage.

After squeezing it, take a look at the soil in your hand. If the soil doesn’t hold together well, it might be too sandy and also need some organic matter added. If it holds together too well, even when you poke at it, there may be too much clay. Again, you can add organic matter to improve it. But if you poke the soil and it breaks up into nice crumbs, it is perfect.

If you are not satisfied with your soil, you can build some raised beds which you can fill with soil more suitable for growing veggies.


Tony Hakim Vegetable garden

Vegetable garden via Waking Times

When you are planting your veggies, it is best to lay them out in rows. This makes it easier when it comes to weeding because you can place some mulch in between the rows, making it harder for the weeds to pop up. When it comes to what veggies to plant, it is entirely up to you. Make sure to do some research about what time of the year your plants are best started at and what their best conditions are.


Putting a fence around your veggie patch is necessary if you want to keep rabbits and other critters from getting in and munching on your produce. You will need to have the bottom of the fence reach about 20cm below the surface so that they cannot dig in underneath.

You can also cover your plants with a lightweight sheet of plastic or netting to protect them from insects, frosts and also birds. This is especially important when the plants are quite young and vulnerable.



Better Homes and Gardens, Home Life


Waking Times, Redeem Your Ground


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