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At A Mission To Serve

Each month, my husband and I, along with family and friends, make and serve dinner for the residents at the Seattle Union Gospel Mission’s Women and Children’s Shelter.

When I first took on the task of being the “chef” for the evening, I was pretty clueless as to how many guests to expect, what they will enjoy, how much it was going to cost and how fast my “crew” and I could pull a meal together for 60+ people. After careful planning and recipe testing and with the help of great sous chefs these nights have been truly successful.

For this dinner, I made Chicken Enchiladas, Cheesy Re-fried Beans, and Cinnamon and Sugar Crustos for dessert.

When cooking for a large group, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

– Plan your menu well in advance.

-When planning your menu, think of recipes that will work with your guests, any time constraints, and your level of expertise.

-Recipe test all menu items prior to the event.

-Make sure you have enough refrigerator and freezer space to hold all of your ingredients.

– If you’re cooking in a kitchen other than your own, make sure you will have the correct equipment, e.g. a deep fryer, large pots and pans.

-Make a list of things that can be done ahead of time and do as much as possible in advance.

-If items need to be thawed put them in the lower part of your refrigerator for 24 hours to thaw safely and correctly.

-Check the cooking times on your recipes and make a “cooking times” list. Put the items that take the longest to prep and cook at the top.

-Grocery shop at least 2 days in advance.

-Before you start cooking, make sure you have every ingredient for each recipe.


I use these tips every time I make a meal for a large group or our monthly dinners at the shelter. Making a meal for a group doesn’t have to be hard; with these tips your event should go off without a hitch!


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