Find yourself needing to cook for a crowd on a budget and not sure how to do so successfully? These tips will have you cooking for a crowd in no time and with no financial hangover afterwards.
Choose Recipes That Can Easily Be Doubled, Tripled, Etc. And Consist of Reasonably Priced Ingredients
Well, what are those types of recipes?
- Soups-These are the easiest recipes to make in bulk. Choose vegetable soups made with seasonal ingredients whenever possible. For example, in the fall/winter, soups such as butternut squash, broccoli cheese, cauliflower cheese, french onion, mushroom, potato, pumpkin, and vegetarian chili are delicious, economical choices.
For the meat lovers in the crowd, go for soups in which other ingredients help the meat stretch a long way. For example, try bean and bacon, chicken and rice, chicken noodle, chicken tortilla, chili, and turkey rice soup.
- Pasta-No wonder spaghetti is such a popular menu feature at church and club gatherings. It can cheaply be stretched to feed a crowd in a hurry. For variation, also try dishes in which pasta is the star such as chili mac, fettuccine alfredo and lasagna.
- Top Your Own-Feeding lots of people without major expense is feasible with put on your own toppings recipes. Examples include potato, nacho, and taco bars. Being able to buy the toppings in bulk can save a chunk of change. These meals are the type that can be served several times, as well, because people can change up the topping that they use for some variety.
Go Heavy on the Appetizers and Snacks
Letting people partially fill up on bite size eats before the main meal is not a bad thing. With the main course generally being more expensive this can be a smart, money saving and food stretching strategy. Popcorn, chips and dip, crackers and cheese spread and veggie trays give you a lot of bang for your buck.
Make Ahead Where Possible
By preparing the dishes that you can ahead of time, this reduces the temptation to grab expensive convenience foods at the last minute. Many casseroles and soups can be made in advance. Also, vegetables can be chopped and stored in the fridge. Desserts especially lend themselves to advanced prep.
Potluck It When You Can
Many hands definitely make for lighter work and fuller wallets. If you are having a gathering with other people that live in the same area that you do, divy up the dish bringing. Not only will this give you recipe variety, but make your life much easier.
Recipe Calculator-This calculator from Chef Ben’s Kitchen will help you both upsize or downsize recipe ingredient amounts quickly.
Big Batch Tips-Ellen’s Kitchen site is full of additional helpful intel for cooking for a crowd.
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