Buying and Cooking For a Crowd

Do you find yourself shying away from hosting a family gathering because you just don’t know how to plan and prepare for a crowd? It can be overwhelming when you sit down to make a grocery list and try to determine how much food to buy and cook when you are feeding more than your normal family. Should¬†you estimate high? Is it better to¬†estimate low? Here are some tips on buying and cooking for a crowd, whether it is for a family reunion this summer or a scout campout in the fall.

1. Get a count of how many adults and kids are attending your party. It does make a difference on the age and size of the person, because children and women will normally eat less than an adult male. If you can’t get an exact count, estimate as close as possible.

2. Write out your menu. Whether this is a one-time family picnic reunion style or if it is a weekend of camping with ten kids, you need a plan before you go in the store. List out all of the items you need to buy, which might include extras you hadn’t thought of, like condiments, aluminum foil, bowls, serving spoons, etc.

3. Estimate amounts. What will you be cooking? For example, if you are grilling hot dogs, it is safe to plan for two per person. However, when you grill hamburgers, many people won’t eat two. It’s good to multiply 1.5 per person, then you have a few extras to eat. If you are having side dishes and desserts, then it is easy for people to get full.

4. Consider the side dishes. When other people are each contributing a side dish, it makes meal planning easy. But if you are the lucky duck in charge and people are just contributing money, you need some more skills. Bags of chips and boxes (or plates of homemade) cookies are always a great way to balance out a meal. If there is more adults than kids, then you can think about purchasing large containers of potato salad, taco salad, pasta salad or even tuna salad. The more side dishes there are, the less main meat you will need to plan on too.

5. Don’t forget the paper! Plates, silverware, napkins and cups. Hot days require lots of cups, since you need to keep people hydrated.

You can always consult with a friend or two to throw ideas off of each other for how much to buy. And it is better to estimate a little high, because you don’t want to run out of food! A little extra never hurts anything when it comes to being prepared.

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