Need some food ideas for feeding a large group? Here’s what I’ve been working on recently!
I’ve been prepping to feed our York College soccer teams several times during our pre-season this fall, so I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to! (My husband is one of the women’s coaches so we are blessed to be heavily involved with the teams. Plus our third son, Elias, will be the fourth Coppinger to be on the YC men’s team!)
If you think I’m crazy for taking this on while chasing our busy 6-year-old and two 1-year-old toddlers, I’d probably agree with you. BUT, all I can say is that I had a strong desire to do this. God said yes. I love food, I love feeding people, and I especially love feeding our YC soccer teams as they transition back into a school year and a new season.
We are praising God that we can have a soccer season and an on-campus school year at this point. We are taking all the precautions to stay safe and the fact that we can have such a beautiful opportunity to enjoy community in this way is such a joy to us. We are SO THANKFUL.
How I can feed a large group while chasing babies
Even if I wasn’t chasing babies, I still have to do the following to make this work:
- I have to be very organized.
- I have to keep my menus very simple.
- I have to ask for help.
- I have to get as much food prepped ahead of time as possible.
So I’ve detailed my meal ideas. I’ve made thorough grocery lists (Wal-mart grocery pickup for the WIN!). I have lists of tasks others can take off my plate when they come into the kitchen and say, “What can I do to help?” And I started baking five weeks ago!
The plan right now is that I will feed:
- The guy’s team one evening in our yard.
- The girl’s team the next evening in our yard.
- Both teams during an entire weekend retreat (6 meals)
I’ve been feeding big crowds (and chasing littles) for many years now, so I’ve definitely learned a lot about what works well and what doesn’t. I used to go all out and make everything from scratch. Phew, not anymore! I still do what I can, but wow have I simplified compared to making homemade ice cream sandwiches for everyone like I used to!
Food Ideas When Feeding a Large Group
Here’s a simple list of what I’m planning to feed everyone (about 80 people) during the weekend retreat. I’ll share more details below.
Friday Evening: Crock Pot Beef and Chicken Fajitas with Fixins, Watermelon, Butterscotch Bars
Saturday Morning: Egg Casseroles, Quick Breads, Fruit
Saturday Lunch: Dips with Chips, Dips with Veggies, Dips with Fruit, Brownies
Saturday Dinner: Lasagna, Salad, French Bread, Green Beans, Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Sunday Morning: Cereal, Fruit, Yogurt, Leftover Quick Bread
Sunday Lunch: Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Chips, Baked Beans, Leftover Veggies and Fruits and Dips
During the weeks leading up to the retreat, I have cooked or baked a little bit each day to put food in the freezer to get ahead and prepared for the retreat.
Here’s my countertop one morning after I started cooking Fajita Meat in two crockpots,
Stick of Butter Rice in my Instant Pot,
and pulled three loaves of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread from my oven.
What Can Be Made Ahead of Time and Frozen
- Chicken Fajita Meat (15 pounds)
- Beef Fajita Meat (made just like the Chicken Fajita recipe – 6 pounds)
- Rice for Fajitas (x8)
- Easy Breakfast Casseroles (9 dozen eggs worth)
- Lasagna (x10)
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (3 loaves)
- Zucchini Bread (3 loaves)
- Banana Bread (3 loaves)
- Orange Poppyseed Bread (5 loaves)
- Chocolate Chip Bread (3 loaves)
- Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread (3 loaves)
- Pulled Pork (20 pounds)
- Brownies (x8)
- Butterscotch Bars (x4)
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (x4)
What Can Be Made Ahead of Time and Refrigerated
In Case You’re Curious:
- Fajita Fixin’s: tortillas, prepared meat, rice, black beans, shredded cheese, salsa, sliced olives, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sour cream
What I Can Ask Others to Help With
It’s helpful for me to have a list made for ways others can help simply because while I’m in the middle of cooking before a big meal starts, my brain can’t always think of what to say when someone offers, “What can I do to help?”
During the retreat, soccer team members will be coming into the kitchen to help me (or grabbing babies to take them outside to play while I cook!). So here’s what I plan to turn over to the students:
- Prep Fruit – Apples, Bananas, Peaches, Strawberries, Grapes
- Prep Veggies – Carrots, Broccoli, Cucumbers
- Slice Quick Breads
- Shred Cheese
- Wash Dishes! ;)
Meals in our Yard
The week after the retreat we’ll feed each team once at our house. I haven’t done any prep work for these yet, but I plan to make the same meal both nights for both teams to save effort and my brain energy. :)
- Simple Pizza Chicken Bake (this is so easy to put together!)
- Tossed Salad
- Italian Bread
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
What are your go-to meals when feeding large crowds?