Have a large crowd to feed? We have over 39 great ideas to help you keep it simple!
I frequently feed crowds of 20 or more. I’ve truly gotten to a place where I can say, “Oh, it’s easy.” How? I keep these meals very simple! And my best tip of all:
The side dishes I serve are made up of fresh fruits and vegetables. Nothing fancy or difficult! I simply wash strawberries and put them in a big bowl. I dump baby carrots onto a tray, slice some cucumbers, and set out some ranch dip. I steam several pounds of frozen green beans, peas, or corn.
My buffets always look so pretty and inviting because of these fruits and veggies! People love this! But I’ve gone to very little trouble. It’s a great win-win!
Tips for Feeding a Large Crowd
- Do as much food prep ahead of time as possible. Here are my best tips about working ahead before company arrives.
- Don’t be afraid to say yes to help! If someone asks, “What can I do to help?” give them a job!
- Create a menu with one simple main dish (ideas below) and as mentioned above, set out simple fruit and veggie side dishes to accompany the meal.
- Watch for French and Italian bread on the mark-down trays at your grocery stores. Slice them in half length-wise, butter them, and warm them in the oven for an additional, filling simple side dish.
- If you’re going to make mashed potatoes (for a crowd or just for your family) you must follow this simple mashed potato making method!
- Serve water. Other fun drinks are great if you have time. But when I have a houseful of teens or college students, I usually set out jars of water and a stack of solo cups. It’s easy and well, spilled water isn’t a concern like spilled grape juice. Oy!
- Smile often. Smile while you prepare the food and while you’re serving it. Let your guests know you are glad they are there!
- Good home design can also play a factor in making your kitchen more functional for large groups. If you are building a home or remodeling your current kitchen, consider an open plan with an island or plenty of countertop space for buffet-style entertaining. Staying up-to-date with the best home décor ideas from sites like DesignIdeasGuide can spark your creativity.
Meals to Feed to a Large Crowd
Setting up a buffet in which people line up and fix their plate according to their preference is the easiest all the way around. This also ensures that people with food allergies or those who are picky can fill their plate the way they need and like. Here are my best ideas for simple main dishes that can be made in bulk and fed easily to a large crowd:
- Build-Your-Own Burrito Bar
- Breakfast Burrito Buffet (great any time of the day!)
- Nacho or Taco Bar (This meaty cheese dip recipe is our favorite! It’s easy to make in bulk and is always a crowd pleaser.)
- Baked Potato Bar (Bake potatoes in a crock pot or large roaster to make it easy. Set out diced meat or chili, grated cheese, chopped veggies, sour cream, and olives for toppings.)
- Sub Sandwich Bar (Set out hoagie rolls, a variety of lunch meat and sliced cheese, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, olives, and any other favorite sandwich fixins.)
- Chef Salad Bar
- Pasta Salad Bar
- Simple Spanish Rice Bowls
- Sloppy Joes
- Chili (served with toppings like Fritos, shredded cheese, sour cream, and olives)
- Burgers and Dogs on the Grill (great for spring and summer!)
- Simple Grilled Chicken
How about casseroles that are easy to make in bulk to feed to a large crowd?
After all, if you’re going to make one, you might as well make…more than one. Each of these feeds 8-12, so double or quadruple accordingly!
- Lasagna (Use this method to make it easy to build several Lasagnas at once. This is always a huge crowd pleaser!)
- Easy Breakfast Casserole (served with a variety of homemade muffins – recipes below – and fresh fruit)
- Simple Crock Pot Taco Pasta
- Simple Pizza Chicken Bake
- Simple Lasagna Casserole (For Instant Pot or Crock Pot)
- Simple Hashbrown Casserole (For Instant Pot, Crock Pot or Oven!)
- Simple Crock Pot Pizza Casserole
- Layered Cheesy Salsa Enchiladas
- Beefy Enchilada Bake
- Cheesy Beef and Rice
- Pizza Casserole
- Italian Pasta Bake
Easy Meat Dishes that are Great to Feed to a Crowd
You’ve got to love how the word “Simple” is in each of these. These recipes each take just a few minutes of prep!
- Simple Barbecue Beef Roast
- Simple Overnight Saucy Crock Pot Chicken
- Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast
- Simple Oven Fried Chicken
- Simple Honey Mustard Chicken Legs
- Simple Roasted Rotiserie Chicken
- Simple Hawaiian Beef Roast
- Simple Garlic Parmesan Chicken Legs
Soups and Stews That Are Great to Feed a Large Crowd
Make a big pot or two of these. Serve with fresh fruits and veggies, maybe bread, muffins, or corn chips. So easy and good!
- Calico Beans
- The Simplest White Chicken Chili
- Simple Hamburger Soup
- Simple Crock Pot Chicken Soup with a Kick
- Last-Minute Lentil Chili
- 20-Minute Taco Soup
- Potato Soup
Pssst! If you like keeping life in the kitchen simple, while still putting nourishing and delicious food on the table for your family, you should consider becoming a Simple Meals Member! We cut down on your time and effort, save you money, and provide you with all that you need to make great and simple meals all week long!
Desserts that are Great to Feed to a Large Crowd
I typically choose to make cookies into bars when I am feeding a crowd. This cuts down on my time investment!
- Butterscotch Bars (my most requested dessert recipe when I’m feeding a crowd!)
- Monster Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
- Build a Brownie Sundae Bar
- Peanut Butter Apple Cookie Bars
- Build a Fruit Salad Bar
Easy Bread and Muffin Recipes to Feed a Large Crowd
- Four Varieties of Cheesecake Muffins
- Peanut Butter Muffins (naturally grain, gluten, and dairy free!)
- Twenty-Three Wholesome and Delicious Muffin Recipes
- Whole Wheat Stir-and-Pour Bread (unbelievably easy!)
Wow! About the only thing I could add to the list is spaghetti with salad and french bread.
Sheri Finta says
The last couple of years, when called upon to make a dish for a crowd, I have done my version of baked Ziti – this recipe makes 2 9×13 pans. I have made it cheaply using jarred sauce, pasta and cheese bought with coupons.
1 lb. box of ziti or penne pasta, cooked al dente
Heat 3 jars of Zesty Ragu w/ garlic and onion – or whatever flavor you have.
Into the sauce add: 1 lg. onion chopped and sauteed.
Brown and drain 1 lb. ground beef and 1 lb. mild Italian sausage. If you don’t have a Q for the sausage, it is usually cheaper by the lb. in the butcher’s case than pre packaged. Add meat to sauce, and mix in with onion and cooked pasta. Pour into casserole dishes.
Cut a block of mozzarella cheese into cubes and place at intervals all over the top of the casserole, then poke the cheese down inside the pasta with a small spoon – this makes melty cheese all through the pasta. Then cover tops of pasta dishes with addtional shredded cheese.
If all ingrediens are still hot, it only takes about 20 minutes @ 350* to get cheese bubbly. If the dishes are cold,heat longer. Enjoy!
Once I was fed (with a large crowd) chicken pile up, or so they called it. It was shredded chicken, rice, and any toppings imaginable. Topping like cheese pineapple, salsa, crusher up choose, coconut, etc etc. Then each person topped what they wanted on their chicken. I loved it, easy fun different. :) So fun that you have that many people come through your doors to minister to.
I have had this before too and it was great! It was a lot of fun to pick out different toppings and everyone could find some combo they liked. Great for picky eaters!
We have this all the time but call them hawaiin haystacks. They are so yummy!! We make a really great gravy and put the shredded chicken in that. some of our toppings are tomotaoes, mandarin oranges, greeen onion, brocolli, celery, carrots, etc
Kris Mays says
Sweet and sour meatballs or a pasta bar.
I make my big batch meatballs. http://plumnearly.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/big-batch-meatballs/ For the sauce, you can use half grape jelly half BBQ sauce heated together. Serve over rice.
For pasta bar: I put out cooked pasta, tossed with some olive oil, a few different sauces (pesto, white, red) and toppings (parm, olives, artichoke hearts, cooked chicken sausage, etc.) and let my family make whatever they like with it.
Soup made out of what ever leftovers you have on hand! With bread and a salad you have a meal!
You have to do a burrito night for sure, all it takes is ground meat, potatoes, onions and the toppings, we are in the SW so we have to have chile and salsa, guacamole and sour cream. You can also do chicken and rice bake or tuna noodle casserole with a salad make a nice and easy dinner. Indiana chili works out nice too with some french bread for dipping. OR beans with ground sausage,and corn bread on the side, of corse we have to have green chile on that too but what ever works for you is good! Have a blast cooking!
Natasha D says
I host Sunday dinner every week. It is usually pot luch but I always open my door for whatever family from our small church that wishes to come. Some nights I have as many as 40-45 people (including kiddos) in my 1900 sq ft home. Crowded? Yes! But we always have plenty of food and a great time. Thanks for this post, I now have a larger inventory of recipes and ideas.
1 can each of garbonzo beans, chili beans, kidney beans, green beans, corn and diced tomatoes. Drain (if using cans) all except the tomatoes. Add 1 lb ground meat seasoned with taco seasoning. This makes a fairly large pot. Serve over Fritos and top with sour cream. It’s sooo tasty and easy!
Abby H says
french dips or western(burger) dips! You have a great list though, I kept thinking of things and would notice you already have it!
Rebecca B says
Miranda’s suggestion is like mine–Hawaiian Haystacks. The traditional version is a chicken/white sauce served over rice, with all kinds of toppings–we love cooked peas, pineapple, and chow mein noodles, but you can also do coconut, almonds, celery, tomatoes, olives, cheese, etc. Now I do a vegan sauce with a cashew base and chopped tofu, over brown rice. A crowd pleaser because you can make it like you want, plus the sauce can be made ahead and frozen, then reheated. Now I’m going to make my family menu for the week and this will be on it! :)
I love some of the things Robin of Big Red Kitchen comes up with. Anyway, here are a couple that I think might be crowd pleasers, minimal labor, and affordable:
If they don’t work for the soccer girls, they certainly would work for the youth group.
We usually make Aunt Betsy’s. I think some people call these Mexican Haystacks or something similar. It’s very easy and is great for leftovers, if there are any!
I’ll just list ingredients and you can decide how much of each to make :)
This is how they are stacked on the plate.
Corn chips (we use Fritos)
Hamburger (browned with picante sauce heated with it)
Additional toppings if wanted: sour cream, salsa, guacomole
This is a lot like tacos, but without the tortillas to mess with and it delicious! Probably one of my favorite meals growing up and still tastes great to me!
sounds like walking tacos!
Fried Rice – I have a big rice cooker so it helps in make the rice ahead of time. I use this recipe as my basis – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/fried-rice-recipe2/index.html – and usually use whatever meat (typically pork) I have on hand.
Kymberly L says
Why not pancakes for dinner!Maybe with different fruit topping made from frozen fruits and/or flavored pancake syrups.
Chili and corn bread/crackers/corn chips.
Chicken divan is an option… its easy to prep ahead, cooks all in one dish, and is a crowd pleaser.
I make my own “cream of” soups, but you could buy it if necessary. If not, then make up a batch of cream of celery or mushroom soup ahead of time.
And here’s how I make chicken divan…
Pour a bag of frozen veggies in the bottom of a glass pyrex casserole dish. Broccoli/cauliflower/carrot combo is my fav to use for this, but most any veg works.
Then pour your cream of celery or mushroom soup over top of the veg. I use a pint homemade for a 13×9 dish.
Then spinkle some shredded cheese.
Then top with chicken breasts… you can buy a bigg bag of frozen chix. breasts at Trader Joes for a decent price.
Then salt and pepper everything. You can also sprinkle with some bread crumbs/butter.
Prep it all ahead if you want… i’ve even prepped it all w/ frozen ingredients and popped back in the freezer till the party or whatever.
You can cook right from frozen, or thawed. 375 oven for about an hour… unless its all frozen, then you might have to cook 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
Like Gina I make a taco soup also. Mine is a little different though. I use two pounds of cooked beef, a cooked onion, 6 Tbsp. Heavenly Homemakers taco mix, 1 qt. pizza sauce, 1 qt. water. You can also add black beans but I don’t. I throw all the ingredients into my crock pot and cook it on low 3-4 hours. Then you top each individual bowl with chips, mozz. cheese, and sour cream. The recipe says it serves 8-10 so I guess you would need a couple crock pots. ;)
To feed the masses, I like to do spaghetti salad…..I add diced ham, pepperoni, or chicken (or a mix of those) and cheese chunks to get the protein in.
This is my go to recipe but it needs some changing because it isn’t very healthy. This is what I am going to tackle in the fall and winter to make it a really good recipe. But here it is:
Patsy’s Soup (named this because a lady from my church gave this to me for a wedding present. All the ingredients in my new crock pot. Such a great wedding present as well.)
4 cans chicken (4 diced cooked chicken breasts)
1 can chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken
2 cans black beans
2 sm. cans shoepeg corn
12 oz. Jar picante sauce
1 can rotel
1 jar cheez whiz (or 15oz Velvetta)
Add all ingredients to crockpot & heat until ready
Serve with tortilla chips or over rice
For breakfast, brunch or if I am doing a breakfast for dinner night….I make scrambled eggs,To stretch this I make a huge pan of gravy with biscuits this is always made from our vennison breakfast sausage we make. to stretch further home fried potatoes. I usually allow one egg per person as some people go past the eggs to the B&G, my personel favorite.
I make the gravy the night before, I make extra whole baking potatoes in the oven the night before for dinner, I use the left over potatoes for the home fries the next day. cube them up in big chunks, season, I brown them in my cast iron and transfer them to a stone baking sheet to finish in the oven with the biscuits. Scramble eggs easy, let people top with cheese if they want……. My other go to is TURKEY sandwishes with cranberry sauce. Roast off a huge turkey slice, add cranberry sauce, letuuce what ever else serve with potat
wedges or potato salad!
Some of the things I make have already been mentioned. Others are a Chicken & Dumpling casserole (I’ll make 2-3 9×13 pans) and a new one is one that was made for me and it would be easy to make for a large crowd. It was called chicken tortilla soup but basically it is chicken and rice soup & taco seasoning served over tortilla chips. You can also have avocado and cilantro to sprinkle on top.
My first response to your list was, I’M ON MY WAY with an appetite! =)
My usual dinner for a crowd is Taco Rice Casserole ~
browned beef with onion and taco seasoning
cooked brown rice
homemade thick gravy in place of the cream/shroom soup
diced green pepper
Heat and top with shredded cheddar and crushed tortilla chips.
Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, salsa
[option ~ add a can of black beans]
For breakfast it’s egg/potato/sausage/cheese/etc casserole or breakfast pizza (biscuit crust, scrambled eggs with the works and cheese)
For our dd’s recent graduation open house (Your turn is coming soon, Laura!) we served BBQ beef roast ~ I left one crock pot of meat without sauce. Chips & salsa, dill pickles. Frozen fruit cup. Homemade dipped chocolates ~ ie, peanut butter bon bons, etc. ALL made weeks ahead of time ~ yay!
I’m sure your groups would both love calzones or pizza pockets.
…or just regular homemade pizza.
You could bake up the pizza crusts ahead of time and freeze. Maybe? LOTsa piza!
When I have a large crowd over I make my huge roaster with chili, and a couple pans of cornbread with creamed corn and green chilies baked in. I have fed up to crowds of 50 people with it. :) Otherwise, GREAT IDEAS!!! :)
I also wanted to echo Melanie’s reply–my other immediate go-to is homemade pizza. Goes really fast and feeds a lot! :)
As a Mom of three college kids I can tell you all that college kids get SICK of pizza! All thde college dining halls serve it at most lunch and dinner times and it is what they eat when they don’t see anything else they want . They don’t care whether it is homemade or not because they just eat so much of it.
I’ve been out of college for two years, and I definitely agree with Lana. That is what we ate if there was nothing better.
-chicken pot pie with either biscuit or pie crust topping
-big pot of jambalaya recipe for 16: cook chopped onions (1 large), (4-5 cloves minced)garlic, (5 or 6 ribs, chopped)celery and (1 small chopped)green bell pepper in (1/2 stick)butter til softened. Add chopped (3 packs of 1)kielbasa or spicy smoked sausage (chopped into 1-inch disks some can be chopped finely to incorporate through everything) and let brown some. Add rice (4 cups) and let it get coated with butter thoroughly. Add 1-2 small cans rotel diced tomatoes and stir. Add (12 cups) liquid, combination of fresh homemade chicken broth and plain water if needed for some hydration. Season to taste with oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, salt, paprika and a dash of turmeric for color. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer and stir occasionally while rice cooks to keep rice from burning on the bottom of the pan. When rice is almost done stir in chopped chicken (1/2 chicken pulled off of a whole roasted chicken) let chicken heat thoroughly and serve.
Jackie Brown says
I agree with you-keep the food low. I’m a mom on a mission for feeding the poor and needy. We feed the homeless shelter (40) every month. I use less meat and add beans and healthy veges. A popular easy recipe I make is no cook black bean lasagna, http://momonamission.me/?p=748 I have four or five women make a 9×13 casserole and we can easily feed a crowd on a dime. Everything we make is freezer friendly-gotta love that. I have others listed in the “no cook ministry meals category.” Thank you for your ideas, I’m always looking for more.
I make chicken tacos. Just like regular ground-beef tacos, except use diced or shredded cooked chicken. Simmer with taco seasoning (in a crock-pot?). Serve on corn tortillas and provide the toppings. Great with a cabbage salad or coleslaw. Sounds like a fun time!
I did the food for the conference that my husband’s student group put together for a few years, they still do the conference but with 2 that are 2 & under and our almost 11 year old who is on the Autism spectrum I just can’t do it anymore. The last year I attempted it I was pregnant with our 2 year old and had just been told by the Dr the day before that I needed to go on modified bed rest. They were happy that I did it while I could though because food cost them about 10% of what it costs them to have food brought in now.
I made food for 150 people, breakfast, lunch and a snack for three days. For breakfasts it was fruit with cinnamon rolls, bagels, muffins or granola bars. Lunches were sandwiches, baked spaghetti, bean and cheese enchiladas and fruit/veggies. Snacks were fruit/veggies, cookies, brownies and cheesecake brownies.
I love cooking for large groups of people. I worked in a chow hall when I was a teenager and loved it, but I just don’t have the time or energy to cook for large groups like that anymore.
Lori W. says
Here are my standards, chicken and beef lasagnas, from my recipe blog: http://3cherrycokes.blogspot.com/2011/02/chicken-lasagna-for-group-serves-24.html
quiet observer says
Great post & great follow-up comments….my first thought however was when feeding a group that large there is bound to be at least one vegitarian or vegan in the group so I would suggest that no matter what you are making to include at least one vegan side dish.
Yes, I know of at least two vegetarians on the soccer team. I always be sure to have options for them! Thanks for reminding me! :)
*Black beans and rice with cornbread-yum-or red beans and rice
*I like to take a porkloin roast and rub it generously with taco seasoning and cook in the crock pot all day. Shred and serve over rice with cornbread (you can tell we are Southerners!)
*Sloppy chicken or turkey sandwiches which is shredded chicken or turkey mixed with my homemade cream of chicken soup and served on buns-different, but every body likes these
*If you can get a good price on a whole ham that is easy to do with macaroni and cheese or scalloped potatoes on the side–or do a huge pan of scalloped potatoes with ham in them or mac and cheese with ham in it
*I have been seeing alot of articles about hot dog bars in magazines this summer-hot dogs with lots of toppings to choose from-the Sunday night crowd would probably really go for that!
*Also for the Sunday night crowd would be a baked potato bar-clean all those potatoes in the top rack of an empty dishwasher-run a rinse and hold cycle but don’t let it run dry cycle-no soap-super easy for a crowd
I don’t have any more meal suggestions, you have a great list already:) I just wanted to tell you how much you will be blessed by opening your home to these young people each week. My husband and I hosted our youth (and we tried to include parents too) on many occasions, it’s a great way to model hospitality for your children as well “bond” with these kids. Thank you for doing this:)
Where did you find the plastic plates – my mom was looking for some the other day. Thanks.
Rhonda Reese says
Watch Walmart at Season change. Right now (September), our Walmart has their red, white & blue plastic plates on clearance. December, they’ll have the autumn colored plates, etc..
When I feed the wrestlers at the end of Christmas break, I not only have to cook for a large group, I have to keep in mind that they will need to make weight at their next meet. So carbs are off the menu – no pizza, no spaghetti, no lasagne. Wrestlers have to be as, or more, weight conscious as any Jenny Craig member.) So I break out the crock-pots and fix double or triple batches of 2 types of soup (homemade chicken noodle and fiesta tomato). Easy to make for large groups, not too expensive (the largest cost is the chickens), and great for the weight minded.
Oh, and a question:) Where did you get the plastic plates? I’d love to find a good sale on these to use outside and around the pool area.
A really great salad to use along with all the other things: Chinese Cabbage Salad. It makes a HUGE bowlful and is wonderful. Basic recipe: Combine 1 head cabbage, shredded, 1 bunch green onion, chopped small, in a large bowl. In skillet, melt 1/3 C butter, adding handful sesame seeds, handful sliced almonds, 2 packages ramen noodles (crushed). Mix to coat all items, then cool, add to cabbage. Just before serving add dressing: 1/4 C sugar, 2 tsp soysauce, 1/4 C wine vinegar, 1/2 C oil. To this through the years I have added carrots, green and red pepper, cauliflower, broccoli, sunflower seeds, and just about anything. I also decrease the sugar a bit and use apple cider vinegar and olive oil. For many years I wasn’t allowed at church functions unless I brought my salad. Definitely a crowd pleaser. Sounds like another good year of hosting and eating. Blessings on all of you.
Jessica Rhines says
For feeding a crowd I go to Southwestern Chicken tacos with homemade tortillas and dark meat organic chicken, Vegetable Samosas, Perogies or Empanadas with homemade black beans and brown rice. Another good idea is my potato and corn chowder. I have an endless list. It’s fun cooking for a crowd.
I just made two briskets this weekend to feed the guests at our yearly pool party. I can always find a brisket or two on sale around the holidays and I freeze them for the occasion. I cook them on a low temp so the house isn’t blazing hot in the middle of summer. It feeds a crowd and everyone has a full belly. I serve along with potato salad and a vinegar-based coleslaw. Delish!
How about Crockpot Pizza… there are several variations that can be made, but kids and adults both love it… serve with a salad and french/garlic bread.
Charlotte Moore says
I think you have enough suggestions for all your meals coming up. When I feed a crowd, (nothing to the max you are feeding though) we almost always grill out. I always have a big salad with extra veggies for the ones that like a big variety. I do baked beans and sometimes baked potatoes.
Also a salad with taco meat and all the frills would be a good crowd pleaser.
GOD BLESS all our efforts. It is a big job.
What a wonderful thing you get to do! The team will love it.
You have a great list going. These are my suggestions:
* Ham & Beans with cornbread
* Peperoncini Beef Sandwiches are fantastic on hoagies with provolone or pepper jack cheese and could not be easier http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2011/01/peperoncini-beef-sandwiches-slow-cooker.html
* Chicken & Dumplings
* Quiche (can be prepared ahead and easy to have some with meat, some without)
I saw on your list BBQ pulled pork sandwhiches. I thought i’d add a variation to the classic. Usually I do mine in the crockpot: pork roast, onions, bbq sauce. At the end of cooking time add in fresh or frozen bell peppers, serve in tortillas with cheese: i call them BBQ pulled pork fajitas!
I should clarify that the bell peppers need to cook in the crock pot with the pork for about a half an hour… until they are warm and softened.
best side dish ever for a crowd- easy to make, made in advance, super declicious!!
2 Loaves french bread, cubed into 1 inch cubes
4 bell peppers chopped, red, yellow and orange are the best!
2-3 english cucumbers chopped
1-2 red onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup chopped basil
Good optional add ins: black olives, cubes fresh mozzerella, cherry tomatos
Drizzle olive oil over bread cubes liberally and bake in the oven at 350 until VERY crispy. Combine bread with chopped veggies and basil. Coat with dressing, toss, and let sit at LEASt 4 hours. Be careful not to overdress- the flavors will intensify the longer it sits.
dressing: Combine 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, 1 clove fresh garlic minced, 3 tbs white wine vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. slowly wisk in 1/2 cup good quality olive oil.
I’d suggest a big roaster of jambalaya. Or a trio of big bowls of tuna salad, egg salad and chicken salad so the girls can make sandwiches. I’ve made some big pans of scalloped corn (got the recipe from Pioneer Woman blog) and it’s heavenly delicious. Quite awhile ago someone here posted a recipe for spaghetti pie and the recipe makes a lot and I’ve given it away to many families and everyone has raved about it.
You have a terrific list going already! My favorite crowd pleaser is to set up a pizza bar. We would have 2 toaster ovens at the end of a long table and we would use English Muffins and top them with whater we wanted :) so Yummy my Husband loves it because his stomach is sensitive to Tomato sauce so he can make his own with Alfredo :)
A go to meal for us (being Cajuns) is gumbo. It spreads a mile when you add rice and potato salad. I usually find chicken leg quarters and sausage on sale and that’s always what I do with it. It’s hearty and warm. Perfect for winter (although my hubby pleads for it in high summer too)! It’s essentially a soup made with a dark roux. Yummy!
Lisa M says
Wow, I am seeing good ideas from both your list and the comments to add to my own planning list.
I usually make beef/or ckn and noodles with mashed potatoes, salad, and grn beans. Shredded beef or crock pot lasagna is on my list too.
Did anyone mention shredded chicken sandwiches? You know the one that has crushed crackers and is served in the crock pot. Also my friend Deb makes the best quiche for events. One with meat and one with veggies and one with no crust for GF folks.
A Chinese food night sounds yummy too. Rice, ckn or beef with a variety of mix ins. Serve with egg rolls (easy to make) and a simple wonton or egg drop soup.
I am suddenly feeling hungry :)
[email protected] says
Pot Roast w/ veggies (in crock pots???)
Seasoned potato wedges
Mashed potatoes with chili and cheese
Baked beans, pasta salad, pickled eggs & beets, watermelon, cookies
soup in bread bowls
tuna or salmon patties
chinese chicken fried rice
italian seasoned shredded beef w/ onion & peppers sandwiches
pizza joes (meat in sauce w/ mozzarella for sandwiches)
pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, dumplings
egg salad sandwiches
sausage gravy over biscuits, home fries, fruit
creamed chicken over biscuits
sweet potato pie
I’d better stop now. This is making me way too hungry. Please excuse me while I go bake some pie.
In your “free” time maybe you can check out some of these great USDA recipes for schools:
This wouldn’t necessarily be the EASIEST, but we did it once in my youth group and I loved it! Make up a bunch on pizza dough and do personal grilled pizzas. Plop a small round of dough on the grill and cover for 4 minutes or so, then flip onto a plate, throw it at a teenager and have them add sauce, cheese and whatever toppings they want. Put it back on the grill for another few minutes and you have the best pizza ever!
Oh I love feeding a crowd…. Living in Texas we tend to feed folks Brisket, potato salad, baked beans or red beans, and cornbread when we have a big crowd!
I however have had excellent luck with Chicken Spagehtti! It makes a big recipe and can be made ahead of time and frozen!
I also like to make Golden Mushroom Meatballs with mashed potatos, homemade bread and salad.
For Golden Mushroom Meatballs…you make a basic onion flavored meatball…roll in flour and brown on all sides. Place in crock pot, 9 by 13, electric skillet…just any deep dish with lid…and cover with Golden Mushroom Soup/Sauce. Cook till meat is throughly cooked…normally about 45 mins in a 350 degree oven. I used to use the can variety of golden Mushroom Soup before converting to all homemade…and have found several recipes online for homemade Golden Mushroom SAUCE that works great!
Good luck and have fun cooking for your crew!
Tortilla Casserole, http://www.favediets.com/Casserole-Recipes/Tortilla-Casserole#. I haven’t made it for a large crowd but I have made a large quantity to freeze. It’s what all new mommies get when I take them a meal. I add black beans and I don’t layer the tortillas, I just add the tortilla chips and cheese on top. Add a salad and you’re set.
I love making Taco Chili! Everyone has loved it.
You make your ground meat like you would taco seasoned meat, onions and garlic, with chili seasoning also. Add Rotel (tomatoes w/ green chilies) some red pepper flakes, already cooked black beans, and corn (I use frozen). Top with the same things you would a taco and or chili. We like ours with sour cream, black olives, fritos or tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and for me… LOTS of fresh cilantro! It works on a plate or if you add more tomatoes/sauce- in a bowl. :)
This is so tweakable, it’s amazing.
Other things I like to make is Lasagna. I put chopped up brocolli in with the cottage cheese, works really well together.
I have also done a few parties with “Make Your Own Pizzas” set up. I make the pizza crusts ahead of time, personal size. Line up the ingredients, (meat having been kept warm) have the oven pretty hot and throw in just enough to heat it all together and melt cheese.
If it’s winter I have made mega pots of cream of tomato basil soup and/or butternut squash soup with ham cheese sandwhichettes made with hearty bread. People still rave about my tomatoe soup which is ironic cause I really have never had any other tomato soup I liked.
Linda Baese says
I would love to have your tomato basil and butternut squash soup recipes. Thank you so much and God Bless!
thank you for posting. I start a new job next week managing the cafeteria at a college university and it’s something I’ve never done. I’ve worked in food service my whole life, and I’ve managed a successful Restaurant, but this will be different. I will have to make a menu and be creative with food while staying on a budget. So, any advice is great for me!!
I’ll take all the help I can get,
And I know you are a Diva of Desserts, but one that can go far is homemade strawberry shortcake. I make a lemond pound cake, cut it thin, thawed frozen strawberries, cool whip! It’s easy to portion control…. well, unless you’re the cook. HA!
Micki Hawkins says
My favorite “big-group” meal is Hawaiian Haystacks – easy – everyone can add what they like and leave off what they don’t like! Set out all the fixins and let ’em go! (don’t be afraid of the pineapple and coconut – sweet/salty – YUM!!!)
Rice, chicken gravy, crushed pineapple, shredded coconut, sliced almonds, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, black olives, green onions, soy sauce… whatever else you think might be good!
so you just put all of those things out separately? I’ve never heard of a Hawaiian Haystack
Cathy B. says
I’ve never fed a crowd as large as you will be feeding, but one thing I like to make when feeding a group during warm weather is Chinese chicken salad. If you want to make it ahead, you can use shredded cabbage; otherwise, romaine works great. I make a salad dressing that’s a knockoff of a restaurant dressing for a similar salad, and then to the greens I add chopped chicken, toasted sesame seeds, oranges (fresh or canned mandarin oranges), toasted almonds (can put these in a bowl on the side in case of allergies), and green onions. It’s fresh, full of flavor, a little chicken can be stretched further this way, and cabbage is inexpensive. It’s great served with a quick bread or rolls. If the weather is cool, I like to make white chicken chili and serve it with sourdough rolls and a green salad. Yum!
Justin Hunter-Jones says
i have been online for hours looking for ideas of how to feed a large group, and you were the only helpful person that I have come across.THANKS!!! keep up the good work! Peace
heather rinker says
beans beans……and more beans!!! They are cheap and OH SO good!!! That’s how I feed a crowd!
I am sure I may repeat some ideas, but I am going to just list my go-to crowd meals. I’ve done quite a bit of crowd cooking for church and family functions serving 30-200.
*Baked potato bar (chives, bacon, sour cream, cheese, chili, salsa, etc.)
*taco soup with tortilla chips, corn muffins/bread, fritos
*mini meatloaves, mashed potatoes, veggie
*kielbasa, cheesy potatoes, salad
*any kind of soup with salad and bread
*baked chicken drums, dressing, veggie
*macaroni and cheese
*oven baked beef stew, bread
*breakfast casseroles, fruit
*burger and dog bar (summer months)
*stuffed shells (Italian style or taco)
*baked chicken fingers
No wonder those girls love your homemade cooking. Sounds yummy! I just have 2 ideas-
Meatball Sandwiches – Make mini meatballs in advanced and when the time comes for dinner, heat them in tomato sauce in a crockpot – Serve sauce an 3-4 mini meatballs in a bun-type bread (maybe costco hot dog buns would work) sprinkle a little parm or mozzarella.
Waffle Night with several fresh fruit toppings and garnishes (chopped nuts, whipped cream, peanut butter, honey, etc)-yum! Maybe too much sugar though, haha
I can’t wait to see what you serve. Also, if you could do an estimate of the cost – I know you are getting reimbursed, but just to see how affordable it can be to serve 50 people. :)
We have a group of missionaries who have come the past 2 summers that I have been blessed to feed 3 meals a day as they work on our church building. I make a oven baked blueberry french toast with homemade blueberry syrup that is always a hit. Lasagna and taco bar is always a hit, so is the icecream bar for desert. Enjoy your time with them, I always do. I will pray that you get a day to sleep in when it is over, I am still behind on my sleep.
How about breakfast for dinner? Baked oatmeal, quiche, muffins, sausage/bacon, breakfast burritos, fresh fruit, yogurt & granola. Humm, make your own breakfast burritos?
You can’t beat meatballs for a crowd! I LOVE this recipe, and so does everyone I’ve ever fed them to. They go great with rice, noodles, potatoes, veggies, or pretty much anything!
Pork tenderloin and sauerkraut. Lay sauerkraut in bottom of pan, top with the pork roast, season and cover, bake til cooked. Other options are topping with bratwurst or even dinner franks. I’m not a fan of sauerkraut but baked like this (and almost crispified) makes it taste much better :)
Hi! I have been searching for some good BPA-free plates to use that are also dishwasher safe! Are yours and do you like them so far? If so, where did you get them? I love your blog, and appreciate all you write about! Thank you! Have a wonderful Monday!
Yes, they are BPA free. I got them on the clearance aisle of Walmart! :)
We have started opening our home on Sundays after church (and thus feeding about 20 people) our pastor always encourages us to go and break bread together after the service and we have 3 small kids who nap and don’t do well at restaurants, not to mention that we don’t like eating overpriced “junk”. We have been able to feed everyone who comes for about 35.00 per week (feeding a family of 5 at a sit down restaurant normally comes to about that) some of our menus have been:
Pizza (dough was resting on counter when everyone arrived and we stretched them together and cooked them as the crowd finished “making” them, toppings we pre chopped and in jars we ate as they came out and all were fed in 1 hour) desert was brownies
-vegetable beef soup. (Huge stockpot made beforehand and put on stove while everyone arrived) desert was salty chocolate Carmel bar (not healthy at all but a crowd pleaser!)
Stuffed peppers (made night before and put in oven on warm during church) I doubled the rice and 1 lb of beef fed 13 people! Desert was cake.
Hope that helps!
Pam Reynolds says
I help to organize the meals for our high school show choir. I suggest meal ideas for the host families and then help to get parents to donate food either cooked or not. I found your ideas very helpful. We try to include a vegetarian alternative along with a meat choice. One of the meals that I have served or suggested and is a big hit… is a combination of mac and cheese and meatball sandwiches. Then we have a meat choice and a vegetarian choice. Both ideas were mentioned above, but not together in one meal. They go well together and feed a lot of people. We also fed the Iowa Luther College Band students while they were on tour in our town, and they loved it because it was different and wasn’t their usual pasta dish.
Marie Gennaro says
I fed 25 kids for $50.
50 of them. Spread out in casserole pans, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle heavily with granulated garlic and LOTS of paprika. Toss them around in it. Add some more. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.
5 pounds (5-16 oz bags)
Cook down, season with salt, pepper garlic etc. I use Tones Garlic Pepper Seasoning (from Sam’s)
After they’ve cooked down, drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with raw sugar, stir it in.
Macaroni & Cheese:
Prepare as the Velvetta box says.
A lot of our foods are “snacks”. This is a “meal”.
Loved this! Going to try for softball team this afternoon!
Dotti Hartman says
I have feed my sons football team three meals and two snacks for a week during camp. One meal that the boys really liked was Teryaki chicken. I bought the chicken at a restaraunt supply store fairly cheap. Then poured Teryaki sauce, purchased at Sam’s, over the chicken and baked. With that I made a large box of minute rice. When it was cooked I added a bag of frozen peas and carrots along with some of the Teryaki sauce and stirred together. I served the rice with chicken on top along with canned corn(water mostly drained with butter) and canned green beans(drain water and replace with beef broth) and rolls.
Joyce Dreger says
I serve 35 senior people a chicken breast dinner. I used 6 oz breasts (about 22) cut in half. Make a bread stuffing (similar as in stuffing for a turkey), moisten with chicken broth, layer in large foil pan, in which I serve the chicken. No dishes to do after. The breasts are seasoned in a creamy ranch dressing and then in fine bread crumbs. Layered on the stuffing, and put in the oven for about an hour. I had many compliments on this dish
Deanna Perez says
Hi there Joyce. This sounds easy and tasty. Do you alternate layering stuffing and chicken or do you put all the stuffing on the bottom and all the chicken on top?
Was there ever a reply for Joyce’s chicken/stuffing? Sounds great!
Thanks you for sharing this simple idea, Deanna. I am feeding 20 men at a shelter and this sounds easy enough for me and delicious for them.
Joyce, the chicken breast sounds great. I am feeding a crowd for a funeral . Would like a recipe if you could . Really need soon
Mary Keeter Nichols says
I would love the recipe also. It sounds great.
There’s some great suggestions on here! I have somehow found myself in need of making two meals that will feed approx. one thousand people each for a giant church function! My budget is $3500. Any suggestions?
In the past we’ve done jumbalya, meatball sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, things like that, but I’ve never cooked for anything nearly this large before. Also, food that won’t make a huge mess and can be eaten without utensils would be ideal.
Any help would be appreciated.
Kris Mays says
I would some kind of a taco bar, where people can assemble their own meal. This is always a hit for us, especially with the guys.
Our church does awesome spaghetti dinners, and it’s fairly inexpensive for a large crowd. Salad, spaghetti (with meatballs if you want), garlic bread, and a sheet cake for dessert (if you want dessert). We had salads at the tables, lines for spaghetti, and served cake to the tables. It works out well :)
I noticed one breakfast idea. How about another? :->
*Crust-less Quiche (make ahead)
*Mrs M’s Grits – Waterless Grits (make ahead)
or Roasted Potatoes (can prep ahead)
*Fresh Salsa (make ahead)
*Sliced fruit (make ahead)
Using the Deep Dish Quiche Lorraine Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, I make as many recipes of this in rectangular 9×13 pans. I DO NOT make a crust. Why work harder??? The beauty of this is it can be made up to three days prior to the event, refrigerate and after chilled, cut into squares.
Prior to event: place squares on a greased cookie sheet, and rewarm in a 350 degree oven, for ~10-15 minutes (depending on your oven), prior to serving.
8 ounces bacon, preferably thick-cut cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
2 medium onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole-milk
8 large eggs, PLUS
1 large yolk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
6 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
1. FOR THE DOUGH: Process flour and salt together in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until butter is size of large peas, about ten 1-second pulses.
2. Mix sour cream and 1/4 cup ice water in small bowl until combined. Add half sour cream mixture to flour mixture; pulse for three 1-second pulses. Repeat with remaining sour cream mixture. Pinch dough with fingers; if dough is floury, dry, and does not hold together, add 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water and process until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, three to five 1-second pulses.
3. Turn dough out onto work surface and flatten into 6-inch disk; cover disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm but not hard, 1 to 2 hours, before rolling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Let thoroughly chilled dough stand at room temperature 15 minutes before rolling.)
4. Cut two 16-inch lengths of foil. Arrange foil pieces in round 9 x 2-inch cake pan so they are perpendicular, pushing them into corners and up sides of pan; press overhang against outside of pan. Spray foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
5. Roll out disk of dough on generously floured work surface to 15-inch circle (about 1/4-inch-thick). Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into cake pan. Working around circumference, ease dough into pan by gently lifting edge of dough with 1 hand while pressing into pan bottom with other. Trim any dough that extends more than 1 inch over edge of pan. Patch any cracks or holes with dough scraps as needed. Refrigerate any remaining dough scraps. Refrigerate dough-lined pan until firm, about 30 minutes, and then freeze for 20 minutes.
6. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375°F. Line dough with parchment or foil and fill completely with pie weights or dried beans, gently pressing weights into corners of shell. Bake on rimmed baking sheet until exposed edges of dough are beginning to brown but bottom is still light in color, 30 to 40 minutes. Carefully remove parchment and pie weights. If any new holes or cracks have formed in dough, patch with reserved scraps. Return shell to oven and bake until bottom is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove shell from oven and brush interior with egg white. Set aside while preparing filling. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
7. FOR THE CUSTARD: Cook bacon in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and discard all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat from skillet. Return to medium heat, add onions, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Set onions aside to cool slightly.
8. Place cornstarch in large bowl; add 3 tablespoons milk and whisk to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in remaining milk, eggs, yolk, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne until mixture is smooth.
9. Scatter onions, bacon, and Gruyère evenly over crust. Gently pour custard mixture over filling. Using fork, push filling ingredients down into custard and drag gently through custard to dislodge air bubbles. Gently tap pan on countertop to dislodge any remaining air bubbles.
10. Bake until top of quiche is lightly browned, toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, and center registers 170°F on instant-read thermometer, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to wire rack and let stand until cool to touch, about 2 hours.
11. When ready to serve, use sharp paring knife to remove any crust that extends beyond edge of pan. Lift foil overhang from sides of pan and remove quiche from pan; gently slide thin-bladed spatula between quiche and foil to loosen, then slide quiche onto serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve.
Makes one 9-inch quiche serving 8 to 10
To prevent the crust from sagging during blind baking, make sure it overhangs the pan’s edge and use plenty of pie weights (about 3 to 4 cups). The cooled quiche can be served warm or at room temperature, or refrigerated for up to 3 days and reheated. To reheat the whole quiche, place it on a rimmed baking sheet on the middle rack of a 325-degree oven for 20 minutes. Reheat slices at 375°F for 10 minutes.
Why this recipe works:
The success of our streamlined deep-dish quiche Lorraine recipe depended on the right ratio of eggs to liquid, plus gentle, even heat. To add the quiche’s fillings without affecting our perfect custard, we whisked a little cornstarch into the dairy component of our custard. This kept it glossy and rich and allowed us to bake our quiche Lorraine recipe longer, which firmed our custard. Finally, we found three ways to add insurance against leaks and tears in the crust of our quiche Lorraine.
Source: Cook’s Illustrated #105, Jul/Aug 2010
Author: America’s Test Kitchen
Mrs M’s Grits *Waterless Grits (make ahead)
This is the single recipe, I usu triple/quadruple it for a crowd. It is also great for sauteed shrimp, roasted pork or other meats.
1 stick unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/4 cups 5-minute grits
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
1. In microwave or in a separate pan, warm the chicken broth.
2. Melt butter in stock pot over medium heat.
3. Add minced garlic and stir continuing to cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 90 seconds (if you cook garlic at a higher temperature, the garlic will burn and taste bitter. Garlic is normally sweet). I have used Garlic powder when I didn’t happen to have fresh garlic but I don’t measure the amount :-/ Sorry
4. Measure grits into stock pot and stir to warm and coat the grits.
5. Pour near boiling chicken broth into stock pot containing the butter coated grits and stir
6. Increase heat while continuing to stir until it seems too thick. Add the heavy cream now, turn off heat and stir.
Grits can be served at this point, however, for a large crowd, I would stir in three large whole beaten eggs until they are evenly distributed in the mixture.
Grease a large, rimmed cookie sheet (you may need more than one rimmed sheet depending on the size of your sheet) and spread the hot grits mixture onto it. Refrigerate until firm.
To reheat: Cut congealed grits into rectangles (squares do not reheat as well as rectangles), place on a greased cookie sheet, and reheat in a 350 degree oven for ~10-15 minutes
The day ahead, wash and cut potatoes into same sized cubes and put in iced water into refrigerator.
When ready to cook:
Toss with some olive oil, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper to taste, onto a rimmed cookie sheet. Make sure the potatoes are in a single layer.
Cook in 450 degree oven (do not use convection mode for this recipe) for 15 minutes, tossing halfway through.
*Fresh Salsa (make ahead)Use your favorite recipe and store in GLASS, days ahead of your event. On day of event, pour into pretty NON-METALIC dish and serve
These fruits work best ie. Granny smith apples, blueberries, blackberries, oranges, grapefruit, pears, not quite ripe peaches and plums. These, in my experience, tend to get mushy if made >24 hours ahead; strawberries, bananas, raspberries, ripe peaches.
Make ahead and put in GLASS, not plastic nor metal, gallon container.
Cover the fruit in the glass containers with orange juice. The orange juice keeps the fruit from oxidizing and the orange juice will be extra fruity when you strain it off the fruit.
Serve both separately, chilled :->
Thanks for your site! I have a “not so small” small group that meets at our home. Love to cook for a crowd and was searching for some new ideas when I stumbled upon your site. Thanks!!!
In my searching for more ideas, I came across the US Armed Quartermaster File http://www.quartermaster.army.mil/jccoe/publications/recipes/cover.pdf (You will need a PDF reader to access this).
Soooo, if the idea of the US Military Recipe Index exites you… here’s the link http://www.combatindex.com/recipes/recipes_home.html
Personally, I can’t wait to try some of these out!
That’s a great list, but…you’ve obviously never ate in a chow hall….lol Just kidding. I never thought of looking this up! Thanks.
Mindy Scott says
My group serves as many as 250! One favorite is “King Ranch Chicken”, recipe found on the Ro-tel tomato site. It is layers of corn tortillas, a stir together sauce of cream of chicken/Ro-tel tomatoes/cumin/onions, cheese, and boned deli chicken. Deli chickens only cost a dollar or two more tan raw chickens, but you can save money roasting whole chickens or chicken leg quarters yourself. We like to sub sour cream for some of the soup, and add some cilantro or parsley.
Anne of Alamo says
we do 100-150 crowds once a month at our home after revival service
1.fried chicken (from walmart), baked beans and homemade coleslaw
2. pulled pork sands
3. chili, rice and cornbread
5. chicken pasta salad (with speghetti sauce and tortillin noodles)
6. enchilada (both green and red) can be done ahead and are actually better reheated
7. little hamburger sliders on tiny buns with 2 pickles! (my kids say the pickles make it)
thank you for your fun brainstorming and I love the combat site for cooking large batches!
Hi Laura I am getting married on Sunday, I a m having the rehearsal dinner at my house and am cooking for 30 people. I thought the taco bar was a great idea, but can’t seem to find the recipe. Please help! I am so overwhelmed with last minute preparations and I really need an easy inexpensive meal.
Congrats! There’s really no recipe – I just prepare a buffet of chips, taco meat, cheese, and all the taco fixin’s. People can go through the line and fix their plates however they like!
Very helpful, thanks. I’m planning a dinner for 40 vball players. 2 are vegetarians, one has a gluten allergy and one is allergic to milk…so I am going to do a baked potato and salad bar.
We did one last year and provided large baked potatoes, cheese, broccoli, scallions, sour cream, butter, chili, ham, gravy, etc. It was a big hit and everyone put whatever they wanted on it.
I was so excited to find your blog and this page! My husband and I host a young adult group in our home every Tuesday night and I am ALWAYS looking for some new recipes. Poppy seed chicken is a great hit at our house, as well as Pizza Spaghetti and the Pioneer Woman’s lasagna. I also watch for pork tenderloins to go on sale and we grill about 7. I usually serve with green beans (canned cooked with ham bouillon in the crock pot all day . . .lots of pepper and a little olive oil) and hash brown casserole. I also make a Big Wheel Sandwich – large sandwich made on round Hawaiian bread, baked and then sliced into pie wedges. Another huge crowd pleaser is oriental slaw. I have many of these recipes on my blog and have started trying to highlight a recipe every Saturday. Your blog gave me some new ideas!
Karin stegner says
Mac and cheese for 50??
I regularly cook large church dinners for anywhere from 75 to 130 people and also cook for our youth group.
Tri tip is popular and not too expensive at costco or sams club. How about lasagna or chili and cornbread? The chili is a great meal that is pretty cheap to make and very filling.
Hi!! I am so glad to “meet” you!! I have never met someone/a family that functions so closely to ours!! I love it! My husband is a youth pastor and a high school varsity basketball coach! I feel 30+ teens 2 or 3 times a week. People think we are crazy but I love it. Strangely I have not made the breakfast casserole yet even tho they are a favorite.
I want to share 2 favorite recipes. One and old family secret – Kalua pig (hawaiian style barbque). You need a large pork butt. A bottle of liquid smoke 4 whole bananas and sea salt. Trim the fat off the pork, put it in the crock pot. poke it a bunch with a fork. Pour the liquid smoke all over it. Liberally Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of salt Over it. Lay the WHOLE BANANAS minus the stickers – on top of the meat. Cover with the lid. Cook on high 45 min per half a pound. When it’s time to eat take the whole (gross now brown colored) bananas out and throw them away. Remove and bones as you shred the meat.
Super with rice!!!!
Second- 5-6 lbs of thawed chicken breast into the crock pot. Pour a large jar of the GREEN salsa. Cook on high till easy to shred and serve like tacos on tortillas or chips!!
Your recipes sound so good. I may try the pork one at home. I don’t cook pork at church suppers as there are some of our members who won’t eat pork. My next meal is going to be enchiladas but I may have to adapt your chicken recipe. It looks so nice and easy to do.
Alice Cowgill says
When I have to feed a crowd I like to make shredded chicken sandwiches, cole slaw and throw in a couple of different kinds of chips for them to choose from.
If we are having a family get together that requires a pot luck then I usually make a chicken casserole, which consists of chicken cooked and cut into chunks or shredded, homemade dressing/stuffing(i have used stove top) and noodles of your liking all mixed together and warmed in the oven till warmed through and top is browned in a 350 degree oven. I usually have it in the oven for about an hour or so.
Sandy Taylor says
I don’t feed huge groups that often, but with all these great ideas I may start. People love getting together and aren’t really fussy about the food. A big part of our group is seniors that don’t get up and down all that well. Any suggestions for letting them fix their own at the table without passing large containers around?
Thanks (to everybody) for all the great ideas.
Hello. What a blessing to be able to serve seniors. I do this at my church. What we do is set up buffet style and have them come down the line. We have servers to give them what they want and also to help carry plates if need be. Our seniors are a wonderful bunch and like to get their food themselves.
Kathy Bradley says
My husband and I generally don’t serve food to large groups but we do have a couple of standby recipes that can be made ahead, frozen and then thawed. One of them includes Paula Deen’s Taco Soup recipe (found on Food Network) that my sister tried in desperation one night and now the whole family fixes. My husband tweaks this by adding a can or two of garbanzo beans (chickpeas). The original recipe serves 12-16; we always double it and cook it in our big electric roaster, serve half and freeze the rest.
Another recipe that is a favorite of my mother’s to keep on hand: twice baked mashed potatoes. She will wash then poke holes in 20 pounds of large baking potatoes. She bakes them (DO NOT need to wrap in foil) at 350 until done. She pulls the potatoes out of the oven and scoops the insides out of the shells into a large(!!) bowl. Mash the potatoes with sour cream and evaporated milk, seasoning to taste. She then puts the mashed potatoes into casserole dishes, sprinkle liberally with shredded cheese, cover with foil and freeze. To serve, thaw, and bake in 350 oven until warmed through and the cheese has melted. This serves about 15-20 kids so adjust as needed.
All the comments mention using chicken – try getting a couple of boneless turkey breasts and roasting those. Turkey breast will substitute straight across for chicken in casseroles, tacos, etc.
Tips for those who serve meals to people with gluten and milk allergies: There is now some very good gluten-free pasta available that will hold up to recipes such as macaroni and cheese. You might want to make a special dish of whatever you are serving just for those dealing with allergies since that pasta is a bit on the pricey side. Also, I have discovered that cooking with Lactaid (brand name) is very similar to cooking with regular milk so it adapts really well to sauces. In addition, Kraft cheese (shredded and block, but not Velveeta) are lactose free. There again, a little pricey but if you make it up in a separate casserole for those who need to use it, you should be able to keep costs down.
Just as a caution: Find out what type of gluten and dairy allergies these players are dealing with. My daughter is lactose intolerant but others are allergic to other enzymes in milk so other types of products (such as almond milk) will need to be used. Same with gluten.
Very cool to run across you on Facebook , the first thing I saw was York college which is where my parents went to college and my great uncle mabrey and aunt Madge Miller ministered for years. Love your ideas! We do a soup kitchen once a month at our church and also have home groups once a month and even family gatherings are 20-70 people so these will help a lot. Thanks
Oh Mabrey and Madge. Loved them and miss them so much!
For a crowd I like to do a pasta bake that isn’t quite lasagna but has some of the same flavors. I use Penne pasta, a sauce that uses Italian sausage to flavor, and a parmesan béchamel to pour between the layers laced with Basil. I layer and top with a Mozzarella/Parmesan cheese mixture. It is seems much easier than “real lasagna” to assemble.
Kielbasa and beans with rice… its so easy and feeds everyone and they will be wanting You to make it often..
I feed ten on this recipe
2 packages of kielbasa or any sausage You like I suppose, cut into coins or half coins depending on the mouths You feed..
two large cans of baked beans.. any kind you like works, but baked beans work best
one bottle of bbq sauce/or 2 cups of homemade.
sautee the sausage coins till they are heated thoroughly, then add the beans.. simmer and add the sauce , simmer a little more till its all hot.
serve on a white rice
An easy way to save money is to eat fewer meals out and make more meals at home. Plus you’ll have greater control to create healthy, delicious meals. Your health and your pocketbook will thank you by making some of our healthy budget-friendly recipes for dinner. Each of these recipes can be made for $3 or less per serving, and we’ve included a variety of cheap dinner options, including budget-friendly chicken recipes, budget-friendly vegetarian recipes and more easy budget-friendly recipes.
I prepare meals for church suppers and feed on average 100-165 people.
My latest meal was pot roast. This recipe is so easy. Take chuck roast, along with a package of dry ranch dressing and one envelope of onion soup mix. Put these in a roaster/crock pot and let cool all day. It will make some liquid on its own however I will add beef stock (NO sodium) to increase liquid to use as au jus, or for gravy.
I had to do a double-take as I began reading your story. I found it while searching for good meal options to feed my husband’s university women’s soccer team! I cook for them several times throughout the year, and it is a lot of work. But I love it. Thanks for the good ideas :)
Im confused. Both of the recipes i looked at fed no where near fifty people. Sloppy joes didnt give serving numbers but only used two lbs of meat. Cheesy beef and rice recipe was for four servings! Where are the recipes and directions for feedng fifty? Im lookng for ideas to feed 100 at the local homeless shelter that arent pasta-based.
Sorry for the confusion! The recipe links on this post are simply to give you ideas of food that works well to make in large quantity for big crowds. You’d need to multiply the recipes several times to make them feed your numbers, but I’ve listed recipes that work well for this!
Caroline kelly says
I’m cooking for 100 on a tight budget and the following are ideas: Thai vegetable curry Cottage pie / shepherds pie, Chicken hot pot with savoury scones, lasagne, sausage toad in the hole, chilli, I will serve 2/3 of these with salad and baked potatoes!
I cook at my church during the school yr. Each wed we have a family night which includes a meal for a minimal amnt. One of the favorites is potatoes soup I make a turkey roaster full then provide toppings like shredded cheese chopped green onions or chives sour creme and if budget allows bacon bits with inexpensive bread and tossed salad we feed 60 -80 for about 30 bucks!
Chicken pot pie is very easy and affordable cooks in one pan very little clean up and a salad and bread complete meal. Old fashion goulash that’s also a one pother wonder, Paul Deens receipe is one of the best if you have never made this add a pan of Mexican cornbread it’s wonderful.
At our family reunion i hosted one dinner for 48. I made goulash and cornbread… You make this as big as you want or as small.
Ground beef browned
Onion chopped (added to browning beef)
Canned or frozen or fresh. I do not drain anything!
Last 15 minutes or so
Seasoning to taste
2 cans each makes a lot. I put in gallon ice cream buckets and freeze until the day i need it. Then all i have to do is defrost n heat and make cornbread
Hi Laura. Do you have an e-book with this and the tips those that replied with ideas? I would love one!
Mary Nichols says
I need these recipes to feed people at Wed. night, thank you for sharing them
I cook for camps annually. And I think the favorite meal of all (which I plate, because it looks nicer) are wet burritos. Roll up beans, cheese and a little canned sauce, into flour tortillas.
Place on a cookie sheet and slather more sauce and cheese on top.
Serve on a plate with shredded lettuce and chopped tomato, chips, salsa, sour cream, guacamole. Easy peasey and they ask for it every single year.
You can make red or green or both. Most people want red.
One camp I cook for is a music camp with college students. I try to stay as far away as I can from dorm food. So, I tend not to make burgers and hot dogs, etc. They love lasagna, meatloaf, which I serve with mac and cheese, potato bar, and Italian soda bar (super easy and they LOVE this) and they like to make things. So we’ve made pies in a jar with ice cream on top. (pie filling, small canning jars, ready made pie crust, bake til baked). And last year they went crazy over french dips. I threw that in as a last thought. And they loved it.
I’m always looking for something new.Thanks for your post!
Bethany Lotulelei says
Yum! What a great way to feed a large group of people!
-Bethany (Laura’s assistant)
I prepare lunch for 20 once a month for local seniors. Meatball Casserole is a favorite, as are Ham and cheese sliders with ‘magic sauce’. Both can be found on Pinterest. Chicken Salad and BLT Wraps are great as well! I love to bake, so I like to dig up new recipes from Pinterest like the chocolate Texas Sheet cookies. You only want one, theyre soooo rich. Homemade cinnamon rolls are my specialty, and ive learned to whip 2 dozen in a hot 3 hours! Woot woot!
Denise f Sloan says
I tried the simple hashbrown casserole recipe and i was really impressed with it. I made it for my church gathering and it went over big. It was easy and affordable and it was just wonderful…..it also really helped me with my budget……I love that!!!!!