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!