Food is always a necessity at any celebration. So if you are watching the budget, you must make a concession for the food but you can do something to make your food budget fit.
First of all, you can switch around the time to make sure that people will really eat less. For example, if you have a brunch baby shower, you will need to provide heavier food since you are actually making breakfast and lunch at the same time. But, having a breakfast baby shower requires less food, and you can get away with simple compote of fruits, a bread course and possibly an egg course as well.
There is nothing better (aside from cheaper and easier) for breakfast than a simple frittata paired with good bread and unsalted butter along with a sweet glass of fresh fruit juice.
Or, go the other way and have the baby shower at an off time in the afternoon or evening. Setting your celebration at two o'clock or at eight will allow you to serve a less heavy meal since people will have just eaten lunch or dinner and will definitely not be expecting something heavy.
A simple meal of cake and coffee is enough for an early afternoon snack. You can also choose to serve a simple spread of pastries and fresh fruit with a selection of tea if you're worried about someone's blood sugar level. Don't be embarrassed if this is all your food budget can fit. A delicious cake and fragrant coffee is something very few people can resist.
You can also have this same kind of food after dinner, where people can expect a dessert bar and a choice of hot beverages along with it. Again, this is nothing to be ashamed of. There are whole restaurants built around desserts, why shouldn't you adapt what the professionals are doing already?
Another way to stretch your food budget is to serve heavy and simple food and just a single dish or two. This is a normal strategy at budget fund raisers where a plain meal and a salad are served along with a beverage and that's it. Adopting this plan of action will ensure that you can stick to your budget and give your guests full bellies at the same time.
A good and cheap food to fix is pasta. It's filling and the sauce can be tinkered with to make it taste interesting and exotic while not breaking the budget.
Or go the opposite way and just serve appetizers instead. A platter of cheese, deli meats, and bread along with a simple fruit punch will satisfy just about anyone.
So, break a few rules while planning your baby shower. Why should
you serve a full meal or have the shower at a usual time? You can
always make something fit your needs and your budget, especially
if what you're talking about is food.