Whether taking over kitchen duty and meal planning for a retreat or preparing a large meal for a group of people at a community event or a pot luck at a house of worship, cooking for large groups can present a challenge. Fortunately, there are several things that can be done to prepare larger quantities of food and make the task relatively painless. Here are a few tips to help you be successful when cooking for large groups.
Your first concern when cooking for large groups is how to go about obtaining recipes. Fortunately, there are many cookbooks published by churches and other organizations that feature recipes that include specific instructions for creating meals that will feed in excess of fifty people. There are also recipes of this type found online at many different cooking sites. When it is possible to locate recipes that are within the scope of your culinary skills and are formulated to produce enough food for a large crowd, this saves you the trouble of having to convert a recipe in order to accommodate a larger number of people.
However, it is possible to convert a recipe for use when cooking for large groups. Many recipes lend themselves well to simply multiplying the amount of each ingredient so that the prepared food will be sufficient for a larger crowd. However, it should be noted that not all recipes will translate well. For example, bread recipes may not produce the desired result if a smaller recipe is converted into a larger recipe. When this is the case, preparing the dish in a series of increments that follow the original recipe to the letter will accomplish the desired result.
The type of foods selected should be items that can be prepared in advance. For example, a spaghetti supper for a hundred people could be handled by making the meat sauce several days in advance and storing the sauce in a freezer. When the day for the supper arrives, the sauce is removed from the freezer, and placed in a large pot to thaw and simmer. In like manner, cut up raw vegetables for a garden salad to accompany the spaghetti and place the vegetables in the refrigerator several hours in advance. This leaves time to cook the pasta, prepare the garlic toast and toss the salad just a couple of hours before the supper is due to begin.
Another tip that helps with cooking for large groups is to make use of short cuts whenever possible. Restaurant supply stores often have mixes that are sold in bulk, which will help to cut down on measuring time. Large bags of shredded lettuce saves time when making salad for lots of people. Instead of chopping food by hand, make use of food processors to dice, chop and mince ingredients. Any steps that will shorten the preparation time and still make it possible to produce a tasty meal will take a lot of the headaches out of preparing food for large groups.
Cooking for large groups takes place in a number of settings. Entertaining for holidays, hosting parties for special occasions or preparing entrees for potlucks often required thinking in terms of using or converting recipes for large groups. With a little planning, some advance work, and using a bit of creativity, the task of cooking for large groups can be relatively painless.