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Baked Potato Bar and other Buffet Recipes - Cheap and Easy Family Meal Ideas

Updated on May 14, 2014
Victoria Lynn profile image

Watching her mom as a kid, Vicki came by cooking easily. Kids Cook Monday offers simple recipes kids can help with.


Need some cheap and easy family meals?

Meals that are family friendly are those that are easy to prepare, that even the kids can help with, and that have choices that every individual in the family will enjoy.

Meals that lend themselves to a buffet sort of setup can be popular with families, or even larger group gatherings.Heck I even like putting them together for myself, as I can put them together quickly and then enjoy the leftovers for the next day or two. These types of meals are popular in that they are interesting, tasty, and have something for everyone. Oh, yeah--and if you're into presentation, these meals are colorful, too!

Baked potatoes are one of those foods that can easily fall into a buffet-type set up. From plain ole butter to chili and cheese, baked potatoes can be topped with a wide range of options.

Baked Potato in a Bag?

This bag was given to me as a gift. It's a homemade bag for cooking baked potatoes in the microwave. I put it in several minutes, check it, and then another minute or two if needed. Ever heard of one of these? I don't prick the potatoes, either.
This bag was given to me as a gift. It's a homemade bag for cooking baked potatoes in the microwave. I put it in several minutes, check it, and then another minute or two if needed. Ever heard of one of these? I don't prick the potatoes, either. | Source

Family-friendly Potato Bar

A healthy meal idea for the family is the potato bar. A baked potato can be loaded with numerous toppings, dependent on the individual's taste. Just bake your potatoes, spread out the toppings on the counter in serving bowls, and line everybody up!

Potatoes sometimes get a bad name because they are high in carbohydrates and low in protein. Look at the nutrients packed in the potato, though. Your body does need a certain amount of carbs per day for energy. I'm not a nutritionist, but I would say to pair up your potato with some other foods, such as beans, to get your protein. At the baked potato bar, offer chili with beans and cheddar cheese, and chopped ham and bacon bits for additional sources of protein, if you like.

If you like it, give it a bunch of stars!

5 stars from 3 ratings of Baked Potato Bar

Cook Time Based on Microwave

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: 6 potatoes (add to cooking time as needed)
Start with butter, salt, and pepper. So good!
Start with butter, salt, and pepper. So good! | Source
Additional toppings: cheddar cheese, green onions, sour cream
Additional toppings: cheddar cheese, green onions, sour cream | Source

Ingredients for Family Potato Bar

  • potatoes, brown, red, or yellow
  • butter
  • salt & pepper
  • sour cream
  • chili, heated
  • onion, white, yellow, or purple, chopped
  • cheese, cheddar or other, grated
  • jalapenos, sliced
  • sour cream
  • green onions, chopped
  • banana peppers
  • broccoli, chopped
  • Velveeta or other cheese, melted
  • tomatoes, chopped
  • chives, chopped
  • bacon bits, homemade or store-bought
  • black olives, sliced or chopped
  • ham, chopped
  • hot sauce
  • salsa, red and green
  • Keep adding ingredients! Be creative!

Instructions for Baked Potato Bar

  1. Rinse and scrub number of baked potatoes you will need. Place in oven for 350 degrees until soft--about an hour to an hour and a half. I prefer the microwave method which requires 2 to 3 minutes per side per potato. Add more time for more potatoes and check periodically. I was taught to prick potatoes with fork to let out steam and prevent explosions, so I do that.
  2. Gather all your potential toppings. Warm up as needed or chop as needed. With broccoli, I prefer steamed as opposed to fresh broccoli.
  3. Load that potato with your choices. I'll give you some possible options.
I like sprinkling my loaded baked potato with hot sauce!
I like sprinkling my loaded baked potato with hot sauce! | Source

Loaded Baked Potato Options

Okay, so I've given you a list of topping options. If you want to have a tremendous potato bar spread, chop up everything, heat what you need, and set it all out on the counter for a serve yourself potato bar. If you need combination ideas to get started, here are some of my favorites:

1) Basic baked potato: Top with butter, salt and pepper and sour cream. That's pretty basic--and tasty. Add chopped onions or chives on top if you wish . . . and tons of other stuff, such as:

2) Veggie baked potato: To the basic baked potato, you can also add grated cheese, sliced black olives, banana peppers, and chopped tomatoes.

3) Baked potato with meat: To either of the options above, add bacon bits or chopped ham. Yummy.

4) Broccoli and cheese baked potato: This option deserves a recipe all its own. Just add broccoli and melted cheese. Other possible additions are salt and pepper, choice of onions, bacon bits, even sour cream or chili. Be creative!

5) Chili baked potato: The key ingredients in this recipe are onions, cheese, and chili. You can also add jalapenos and sour cream. You can add the basics, too, of course, of butter, salt, and pepper. Feeling creative? Add steamed broccoli, black olives, and/or tomatoes.

Be creative! Mix any of the ingredients I've suggested, or add your own!

Nutritional Values for a Medium Potato

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: medium
Calories 161
Calories from Fat0
% Daily Value *
Carbohydrates 36 g12%
Sugar 2 g
Fiber 4 g16%
Protein 4 g8%
Cholesterol 0 mg
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Other Nutritional Values

Other potato values that aren't included in the nutrition chart:

Calcium: 3%

Iron: 10%

Vitamin C: 28%

Vitamin B6: 14%

Magnesium: 12%

Sodium: 17 mg.

Potassium: 844 mg

As you can see, a medium baked potato is low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, but high in good things such as protein, fiber, Vitamins C and B6, but especially potassium. I do know that potassium is good for muscle health as well as high blood pressure and a myriad of other things. I'm not going to go into a lot of the medical benefits of potatoes (I'm not a doctor!), but potassium does have numerous positive health benefits--and a potato is full of it!


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    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      8 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Yes, Vellur, the potato bag is easy. Thanks for coming by!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      8 years ago from Dubai

      Great ideas. I never have heard of this potato bag. Easy to bake potatoes.

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      8 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Yeah, teaches, this would be good for any type of group, I think. Thanks for reading!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      What a great idea. I think I will try this with my grandkids when they visit. It's such an entertaining idea for a visit with friends as well.

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      8 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      LadyLyell--Thanks for the great comments. Yes, salsa is great on a baked potato. Salsa, sour cream, and cheddar cheese is a great combination!

    • LadyLyell profile image


      8 years ago from George, South Africa

      My thoughts exactly, potatoes can be made tasty and colorful. I fall back on baked potatoes as an additional dish when entertaining with a bar-b-que.

      You have listed a few additional ideas I'll use for toppings. I've never added salsa which must spice it up!

      As for nutrition, we can't always worry about that can we? Let's enjoy a good old baked potato.

      Thanks Victoria for yummy ideas!

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      8 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Thanks, matt. Yes, I love the potato bar!

      Glad you came by. Thanks for the comment.

    • mattdigiulio profile image


      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      HI Vic, this is awesome. Bookmarking this one, thank you for sharing!

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      8 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Thanks, KoffeeKlatch Gals. It does make a great meal!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Your baked potato bar sounds like my kind of buffet. Easy to put together, filling, and a favorite food of most people. Up and useful.

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      8 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Jeff--throw on an extra one for me! :-)

    • fpherj48 profile image


      8 years ago from Carson City're a food-genius. You just gave me the perfect solution for our next big family feast! I always fret over what "sides" to make, because every one likes something different. (my fault...I spoiled them).......This "bar" sounds like the answer......right next to the salad selections! Thanks!! UP ++

    • Jeff Gamble profile image

      Jeff Gamble 

      8 years ago from Denton, Texas

      I know what I'm doing for lunch - a #4 with a side of #3 - Great idea for an easy meal

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      8 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Hey, lord! You been out of town? I'm glad to see you and your appetite on here. I had a loaded baked potato last night. No sangria, though. I might have to look into that! Cheers to you. Thanks, my friend!

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 

      8 years ago from New York

      I love potatoes!! And this recipe is a winner! You got me so hungry already Victoria! Love chili and jalapenos, so your number 5 goes down with some sangria. Cheers! The photos are so enticing! Up!


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