While inviting a large group over for lunch or dinner can have many benefits, and be quite enjoyable, from the perspective of a cook, it can quickly turn into a nightmare if you don’t know what you are doing. Certain questions, such as how much should I cook, and what about vegetarians and vegans, must be addressed early in the process of selecting the menu. Following are a few tips that will help you prepare a great meal for your large group.
This is not the opportunity to thumb through your “recipes I must try” list. Because of the time and cost associated with preparing this meal, you want to select a tried and true recipe that you have nailed multiple times. When it comes to new recipes, it is always best to give them a couple of test runs before serving them to groups.
Unless you know that you have group of adventurous taste testers on your hands, you should stick with dishes that you know most people will enjoy. In other words, this is not the time to pull out the quail eggs, or some other unusual dish. Since it is difficult to know everyone’s preferences, add variety.
Because cooking for larges groups can be quite taxing, you should include some foods that you can cook ahead of the actual date. Dishes like lasagna, roast and soups, can be prepared ahead and reheated on the day of the event.
The amount of food that you will have to make will vary depending on the type of guests. For instance, you will prepare less for a group of 11-year-olds than your son’s highschool football team. The more items that you are serving, the less you will need of each. For each person, you should have one ½ pound of meat and four to five ounces of sides and vegetables.
To cut back on food prep time, buy some of the items from the grocery store pre-made. Buying some of the food pre-made will accommodate for the lack of prep space and cooking space.
If you are having a formal affair, plated meals are ideal; however, buffets work great for informal engagements. With everyone serving themselves, a great deal of the work will be lifted from the host.
The more organized that you are at the beginning of the process, the less stress you will experience throughout. Make sure that you make a list of everything that you need.
When you place too much food in your oven at one time, it can result in uneven cooking. Keep in mind that recommended cooking temperatures do not take into consideration the existence of other dishes in the oven at the same time.
The last thing that you want is your event being remembered for guests getting sick, so make sure to clean all surfaces with antibacterial cleaner.