Tips & Tricks

What You Need to Know Before Cooking for a Crowd

Nov 29, 2021
Coline Richard

Making food for large groups can be a blast, but it can also be stressful. When it’s time to make a giant meal for a special occasion, stick to these guidelines for success.

Set a Budget for Crowd-Friendly Cooking

Whenever you’re cooking for a big group of people, sticking to a budget for groceries can help to keep you from breaking the bank. Grocery costs can add up even when you’re cooking for just a few people, so budgeting can help you keep the cooking as stress-free as possible! 


In addition to budgeting, making a grocery list before going to pick up your ingredients can be extremely helpful. Making a list and only grabbing the items you planned on getting can keep your costs from getting any higher than you’d planned. That’s where we can help! We’ll optimize your grocery cart for exactly the number of people that you’re serving and even arrange for you to pick up your groceries or have them delivered. It’s just one more thing that you won’t have to worry about. 


Keep It Simple

The simplest, quickest meals are also sometimes some of the tastiest. Finding a recipe with minimal ingredients, a short prep time, and low-maintenance cooking can make feeding a large group of people a breeze! 


For example, this recipe for Grandma’s Rice Made Simple has an insanely short prep time – just three minutes – and it takes only 15 minutes to cook. It’s a stick-to-your-ribs meal that will satisfy a large group. 


Need another super-simple recipe to feed a crowd? Try our lentil and pepper curry. It’s a perfect recipe for dinner in the fall or winter, and it’s 100% plant-based! Plus, with a two minute prep time and a 25 minute cook time, you’ll have food on the table at lightning speed!


Accommodate Special Diets

Whenever lots of people are coming over for a meal, it’s always smart to check in with your guests and see if anyone has any dietary restrictions. These could be elective lifestyles like plant-based eating or keto, but they might also be allergies or intolerances. Either way, you can be a great host by accommodating any of your guests who have dietary restrictions. 


Here’s a little cheat sheet for restrictive diets:


  • Keto: This diet is extremely low in carbohydrates. You’ll need a dish that contains little to no grains, fruits, starchy veggies, or other sources of carbs. Instead, opt for a meal based on non-starchy veggies, healthy sources of fat like avocados and nuts, and meat.


  • Vegan: The vegan diet, also known as plant-based eating, excludes any animal products. That includes meat, dairy, eggs, and even honey.


  • Vegetarian: Vegetarians don’t eat meat, but most are comfortable with eggs, dairy, and honey.


  • Paleo: The paleo diet encourages adherents to avoid modern processed foods, as well as grains and dairy. This way of eating prioritizes veggies, meat, and other whole foods that our ancient ancestors ate.


  • Gluten-free: Anyone with a gluten allergy or intolerance can’t have any wheat-based foods, including bread, pasta, and many desserts. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make these foods with certified gluten-free flour!


Recruit Friends to Help You Cook

Cooking for a large group of people can be stressful – but it’s much easier when you’re not alone!


If you’ve got friends who love cooking as much as you do, invite them over and take on the task of making a big meal as a team. Splitting up the responsibilities can help you avoid stress and make big batches of food as efficiently as possible.


Host a Potluck

Potluck dinners help to keep the pressure off of one person to make food for everyone else. For a potluck, everyone invited brings an entree, side, drink, or dessert to share, leaving you with a massive, eclectic feast.


If you’re having a lot of people over for a meal, hosting a potluck can add to the variety of food on the table, which keeps things exciting. Plus, a potluck gives everyone the chance to show off their cooking skills and sample each other’s best recipes. 

Factor in Alcohol Costs

Providing booze for a large group can make your grocery bill skyrocket. If you’re hosting a big dinner, it can be helpful to enact a “BYOB” mandate, inviting your friends to bring their favorite wine, beer, or liquor to share with everyone else. That’ll take the pressure off you to pick up enough drinks for everyone, allowing you to focus on the cooking! 


Never Underestimate Your Slow Cooker

When there are lots of people coming over for dinner, your slow cooker is your best friend. Some slow cookers can hold up to five quarts of food, which is more than enough to feed a dozen people. If you’ve got tons of guests, doubling up a recipe and borrowing a crockpot from a friend can be a lifesaver. 


Get All Hands on Deck for Cleanup

Cleaning up after a big dinner party can be a chore, but it’s much easier when all of your guests help out a bit! Even something as simple as getting everyone to wash their own dishes can save you tons of time and energy.


While it might be tempting to pull out the disposable plates, cups, and silverware when cooking for a big group, using plasticware can downgrade the presentation of your meal. Instead, take all the help you can get with washing dishes, wiping down surfaces, putting away chairs, and anything else you need accomplished.

A Meal for All Seasons

Not sure what to make for your big dinner party next week? We can help you out! 


When you visit our website, you’ll find a plethora of recipes that are perfect for any time of year. Whether you’re hosting a wintertime get-together and want the perfect stew to share or want to make a crisp, refreshing salad, we’ve got you covered. 


Happy cooking!

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