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!)