Do you resist having families over to your house because large scale cooking intimidates you? This stressed me out until I had a big family and realized it wasn’t too hard to cook for a crowd! On a daily basis I cook for nine people, and my children love to host parties and gatherings for friends and family. The secret to feeding a crowd is to do as much as you can before the party. In the past few years we have hosted a few parties for over 70 people and it was actually quite fun!
With spring break and summer quickly approaching there will be many opportunities for parties and get togethers.
Every large task requires some degree of planning. Cooking for a crowd is no different. Prepare your menu at least two weeks ahead of time (more if you are able). One great benefit of having a planned menu is that if someone asks what they can bring, look down your list and pick something. Then cross it off your list!
Don’t wait until the last minute to shop for your gathering. Most items can be purchased weeks or sometimes months in advance. There may be a few things that need to be purchased the day before, but try to keep these items to a minimum. Shopping ahead also allows you to watch for sales. If you plan ahead you might be able to get most of the menu items on sale.
I try to do as much work as possible the week before. Look over your menu and decide which items can be prepared ahead of time. Work to prepare all these items before the big day arrives.
Keep it Simple
I realized a long time ago that getting together for a meal was less about the food and more about the fellowship. While you want your menu to be yummy, don’t kill yourself preparing 20 exotic dishes that no one is going to really like anyway.
Ask for Help
This is especially important during the holiday meals. Even your single 20 something cousin can pick up a few packs of rolls on his way over to your house for the big dinner. Most of the time people offer to bring a dish, but if they don’t ask them anyway. Once the guests arrive invite a few of the “cooks” into the kitchen to help you with the finishing touches.
Think Outside of the Box
The first several years of our marriage I had turkey trauma. I couldn’t cook one to save my life. I really wanted to have people over for Thanksgiving one year, but didn’t want to fail with another turkey. We changed things around a bit and had a make your own pizza Thanksgiving. This was one of our most memorable celebrations and we talked about it for years.
Love your Crock
The crock pot is your best friend when it comes to making big meals. For my husband’s 40th birthday bash I made a huge batch of sloppy joes in the crock pot. I browned the meat earlier in the week and the morning of the party threw everything in the crock to cook for a few hours before guests arrived. There are so many great crock pot dishes and most of them are perfect for a crowd.
Meal Suggestions for Large Groups
Spaghetti and meatballs, bread sticks, salad
meatballs, sauce, salad and bread can all be prepared in advance.
Sloppy joes, fruit and veggie tray, chips
the sloppy joe mixture can be made in advance, fruit and veggies can be cut the day before
this entire dish can be made in advance and be either frozen or refrigerated
almost everything can be prepped in advance
Soup, salad and bread
Many soups can be made in a crock pot. I wouldn’t recommend this for a group of hungry football players, but perhaps a ladies luncheon?
this can be made ahead and put in the oven before your guests arrive
the meat can be prepared in advance and warmed the day of the party
What is your favorite party meal?