Unless you're the ultimate football fan (unlike me), you probably throw Super Bowl parties mainly for the company, the commercials, and, last but not least, the food (like me). Happily, you don't need to run all over town to get the eats you need; BJ's Wholesale Club's appetizer selection is both plentiful and reasonably priced, which can make you feel as though you've scored a winning touchdown yourself.
As opposed to a sit-down dinner, a Super Bowl bash is more of a casual nibble-all-night affair, and that means you need plenty of loaded platters of finger food to keep your guests satisfied. I like to cook, don't get me wrong, but for a large event when time is an issue, BJ's is my go-to. And they don't disappoint. There's always a variety of standard appetizers, plus some surprising (and surprisingly delicious!) additions that you wouldn't expect from a bulk warehouse-style store. Their house brand, Wellsley Farms, includes not only fresh produce and meat, but also a wide variety of frozen apps that help make entertaining stress-free. (I could happily make a meal of their quiches and spanakopita alone.)
I deliberately omitted the obvious — wing platters, chips, salsa — because you probably have them on your list already. But for bonus points, pick up one or more of these BJ's buys for your Super Bowl spread, and your guests will be rooting for your buffet as much as they do for the Patriots, the Rams, or the Budweiser ad.
1. Veggie And Dip Tray
For your guests who are diligently trying to stick to their New Year's resolutions, or who want to start with some nutritious nibbles before moving on to the heavier fare, this selection of crudites will be greatly appreciated. And at $10 for a large platter, you'll appreciate both the price and the convenience of not having to do the chopping.
2. Spinach And Artichoke Dip
Why is it that the veggies that make us grimace in their natural form suddenly become irresistible when you mix them with gooey stuff and scoop them onto a pita wedge? Does it matter? BJ's version is a cheese-lovers' dream — the dip ($10) includes mozzarella, Asiago, Parmesan, and Romano for a quadruple shot of savory goodness.
3. Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail
No baking, no fuss, no leftovers: Just thaw this Wellsley Farms shrimp ring (they're sustainably harvested, thank you very much) on game day, open the sauce container, and pass the napkins. BJ's selection is a bargain at $28 for a very generous 2.5-pound serving.
4. Coconut Shrimp
Can't get enough shrimp? Me neither. While your guests are making short work of the cocktail, you can have this battered and coconut-topped appetizer in the oven and the chili sauce (it's included) in a dip bowl. Each package comes with up to 31 shrimp, which is quite a deal for just $13.
5. Crab Cakes
Wrapping up the seafood section are these flaky, meaty crab cakes, just $10 for a package of 10 (so you should probably pick up at least two boxes). One caveat, however: Although the box touts the crab cakes as being "Maryland Style," you'll need to season them with Old Bay for the true Old Line State flavor.
6. Jamaican Beef Patties
Who says the buffalo wings have to be the spiciest thing on your Super Bowl table? Shake it up a little with these Caribbean-style ground beef patties ($13 for a box of 10), which are similar to empanadas.
One of the golden rules of appetizers: You can't go wrong with putting a rich filling in a fried or baked wrap. By that standard, these rolled taco-esque treats are ideal; at $12 for a box of 40, they're even more so.
8. Steak Spring Rolls
A Philly cheesesteak in Asian spring-roll form? See the appetizer rule above. It works. Each $14 box contains a crowd-satisfying 24 rolls.
9. Cocktail Franks
This bite-sized treat is such a party standard that your guests might be disappointed if they don't see it on your table. Just $16 gets you a sizeable 80-frank box, so you might not need to serve too many other appetizers if you also have a pot of chili or tray of lasagna on the menu.
10. Bacon Mac & Cheese Bites
If your Super Bowl Sunday festivities will include kids, you'll want to add this to your shopping cart. They may not be much into spicy wings, but they'll love trying one of their favorite meals in a crispy, easy-to-eat form ($10 for a box of 32).
11. Pulled Pork
As Super Bowl dishes go, pulled-pork sandwiches rank ahead of chili and jalapeno poppers, according to The Daily Meal. You can let your guests decide for themselves by heating up this pre-cooked, liqueur-seasoned meat bonanza ($11) and popping it into mini-buns, along with some slaw for crunch.
12. Meat And Cheese Assortment
If you're a no-fuss entertainer who prefers to do as little prep work as possible (and really, who can blame you?), it doesn't get any simpler than this. $14 buys you a hearty serving of three different cured meats, all wrapped around wedges of mozzarella. Mangia bene!
Even though the Jets and Giants had their championship hopes dashed weeks ago, you can still bring a touch of New York to your spread with these traditional potato-stuffed pies ($8 for a package of 9). For the authentic flavor experience, serve them with grainy brown mustard.
14. Meatless Mandarin Chicken
Your guest list may very well include one or more vegetarian or vegan friends who have to bypass many of the traditional Super Bowl Sunday foods. For them, you can pick up one of BJ's ample vegetarian options, such as this plant-based tangy Asian-style dish. Fans of Trader Joe's perennial favorite Mandarin Orange Chicken might be tempted to try it for themselves.
15. Artisan Appetizers
I'm a sucker for just about any appetizer that involves little pastry shells or filo dough, so this would be a must for my own party table. BJ's Wellsley Farms selection (a bargain at $13 for a pack of 36) includes apple fig Brie bites, cheese and caramelized onion puff pastry tarts, and chicken pot pie bites. They also carry other can't-eat-just-one frozen pastry options, such as mini quiches and spinach pies.
Okay, okay, so this isn't technically an appetizer. But you're missing the point, people. BJ's has Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. And what's a party without dessert, anyway? While you're wheeling your oversized shopping cart down the spacious aisles, it's no trouble to put a box of cake ($15) in there, right? If you need to justify yourself, you could cut it up into bite-sized pieces and serve it on a platter along with the savory snacks. It's Sunday. It's the Super Bowl. People are full of IPA and good cheer. Who's going to argue with you?