Cooking for a large group of friends and family can be a difficult task. You don’t have to lose sleep over planning a meal that will keep all your friends and family happy. Here are 7 tips for feeding a large group:
1. Cook a Crowd Pleaser
Before deciding on what dish to make, check in with your guests on their preferences. Consider any input they may have before making your grocery list. Are there special diets that need to be considered, like vegetarian or gluten-free? Even children can enjoy getting to be involved in planning a menu. To eliminate stress, stick with recipes that are more simple like our Easy Skillet Lasagna Recipe.
2. Consider Recipes That Can Easily Be Doubled
Long preparation times or complex ingredients may not be the best choice when preparing for a crowd. Look for dishes like soups, stews, and casseroles that can be adjusted easily. Our Hearty Homestyle Chicken Soup or Fiesta Casserole are both good options.
3. Use a Slow Cooker to Save Time
When cooking for a large group there are often a lot of other tasks to get done. A slow cooker will cook your food while you are at work or entertaining guests. You can save time with recipes like Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sliders and Slow Cooker Enchilada Stack.
4. Make it a Buffet
Let each person choose what goes on their plate by setting up a buffet. With Mini Pizzas everyone can choose their own toppings before they go in the oven. Beefy Taco Salad also has lots of topping options so that meals can be customized. When each person can choose what goes on their plate they are more likely to enjoy the meal.
5. Shop the Sales
Cooking for a crowd can still be budget-friendly. Look for items that are on sale at the grocery store to include in your menu. Also, shopping for produce that is in-season can make dishes more cost effective. Farmers markets are a great way to find fresh produce. Find a farmers market near you, here: https://onieproject.org/farmers-markets/.
6. Make Additions
Adding extra protein like meat can be costly when buying for a large group. Substituting or adding plant-based protein sources can be more budget-friendly. Try adding dry beans or lentils to extend a recipe or improve nutritional value. To save time you can also use canned beans or lentils, which can still be cost effective. Adding extra produce can increase the nutritional value of a meal. Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables can sometimes be more cost effective than buying fresh. Our Avocado Black Bean Enchiladas or Healthy Beef and Veggie Mac are great choices.
7. Wrap Up Leftovers
When cooking for a large group it can be easy to forget about food sitting out on the buffet table. Throw away perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles, left at room temperature longer than two hours or within one hour if it’s warmer than 90°F. Refrigerate or freeze other leftovers in shallow, air-tight containers and label with a date. Use refrigerated leftovers within three to four days by reheating to an internal temperature of 165°F.