Author Topic: Meal for large group  (Read 11139 times)

themagicman

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Meal for large group
« on: November 16, 2014, 07:21:09 PM »
What are some good ideas to make for a family dinner for about 16 people? We are not wanting to spend a ton of money on it but not wanting the cheapest things like hamburgers or hotdogs. We are planning on doing it in mid December so not wanting to do turkey either since it will be a couple of weeks from thanksgiving and christmas. What are some good main dishes to feed about 16 people that is pretty easy to make and not too expensive. Any advice is appreciated!!

Murr

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2014, 07:25:42 PM »
A big pot of chili served over rice with corn bread on the side. We've made this a handful of times for large groups and always a hit and easy.

thecornercat

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2014, 07:33:17 PM »
Potato dishes for sure (roast potatoes or mashed potatoes or potato salad). Mac and cheese. Bean salads or lentil stews (or vice versa)!



Carrie

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2014, 07:37:47 PM »
We've done a big pork roast (in a Dutch oven all day) for pulled pork, served with black beans, mashed Chipotle sweet potatoes, vinegar slaw ( or citrus slaw), mango-pineapple salsa.  (Jamaican theme)
We've also done the chili with lots of toppings ,  spicy & mild crock pots full, maybe a vegetarian option.
Taco bar would be fun too.


geekette

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2014, 07:40:03 PM »
A big ole spaghetti dinner!

Mrs. PoP

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2014, 07:40:57 PM »
I second the taco bar - great for laid back meals especially as it looks impressive and casual at the same time. 

I did stuffed shells once - not too expensive if you can get a good deal on the cheeses and the recipe I used made a big pan, which I ended up doubling to make one batch vegetarian and the other with ground turkey in it.  Then just salad and garlic bread complete it nicely. 

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2014, 07:51:40 PM »
Bake some bread, its delicious and very impressive!  Yet ingredients are as cheap as they come... Rosemary bread is just flour, water, yeast & herbs.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2014, 07:54:51 PM by DCJrMustachian »

bogart

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2014, 08:10:11 PM »
Inexpensive stew beef thrown in a crockpot with a can of cream of mushroom soup (approx. one can per 2 lbs. of beef) and cooked on low until it is squishy soft, then served with a bread that can be used to sop up the juice from the stew is really, really tasty and so easy to cook.  Baked potatoes on the side could serve the "bar" function (provide a few topping options -- butter, sour cream, bacon bits, chives, broccoli) and a salad and you're good to go. 

I'm definitely also a fan of spaghetti for such occasions, especially if any of your guests are vegetarian (though the baked potato part of the above can cover that situation, also).

Zikoris

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2014, 08:28:03 PM »
A giant dinner pot pie or three. Nice flaky pastry, and the traditional filling items - potatoes, celery, carrots, random meat - are really cheap without looking like you're trying to cheap out. And everyone likes pie. It would be easy to cater to different preferences by making one pie without meat, or whatever.

I make my own pie crust, but I'm sure premade stuff would be fine if you have ham hands or don't feel like making it. I just simmer the filling in gravy or thickened soup stock until everything's soft, dump it in the bottom crust, throw on the top crust, slice in some holes so it doesn't explode, and bake it for 45 minutes at 375.

homehandymum

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2014, 11:04:02 PM »
Indian. 

One or two main curry dishes, a dahl dish, a huge bowl of rice, and naans.  Also all the little side salad/condiments/raita things are fun and can be done economically.  You can mix it up with hotness to cater for the tolerance of different family members - make the main dish mild and make sure you label a hot dish well, or just have a chilli sauce available for those who like it hot.

Have it buffet style if you have the room so everyone gets access to all the food options.

And you can make a moderate amount of meat go a long way in a curry, which makes it really economical, and nobody really notices that they don't have half a pound of meat each.  You can also easily cater for vegetarian or vegan guests with no big dramas.

1967mama

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2014, 12:18:01 AM »
I like to do a taco bar when I have a large group. That way, guests can assemble their own meal to their liking. I put out a plate stacked high with burrito wraps, a hot crockpot full of rice/ground beef taco seasoned goodness, homemade refried beans, a big bowl of shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, a big bowl of shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream and homemade guac.

I think its important to put out LOTS of food when you're feeding a crowd in this style, otherwise the first guests through the line may feel they need to take tiny portions to leave enough for everyone else.

We have served this fairly often over the years, especially now. If I have all my kids, a couple of SO's and grandparents, we have 16-18 people for dinner. I always find this meal works perfectly! And there's always enough food...and often enough for a few people to take leftovers to work the next day!

Gimesalot

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2014, 07:56:23 AM »
I always to red beans and rice for big parties.  I used canned beans, because I like cream style red beans.  I would buy about 3 pounds of good smoked sausage, a head of garlic, and 4 onions.  Slice the sausage and cook in a pan, then  drain most of the fat.  Cook the onions and garlic in the fat until browned.  Put sausage, onions, garlic and red beans in crock pot with a little water.  Stew til warm.  Make a lot of rice on the stove.  Leave out hot sauce, cayanne, chopped green onions, and chopped tomato.

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2014, 08:31:48 AM »
Spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread.

dude

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2014, 08:36:36 AM »
Lasagna is one of my go-to feed-a-crowd dishes.  If you want to make it real cheap, skip the meat (I use italian sausage and ground beef) and just make it cheese (I use a combo of mozarella, ricotta and parmesan), but the meat+cheese is nice and filling.

nereo

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2014, 08:50:28 AM »
I like dude's suggestion of Lasagna - actually cooks up better if you make it a day or two ahead of time and then keep it in the fridge.

add to that some a side and a salad and you've got a complete meal that feels luxurious but didn't take a lot of time or coin.
Sides/Starches:
hearty soups (potato, carrot-ginger, tomato-basil, cheddar-broccoli) made in a slow-cooker and kept on low
Corn Bread, home-made bread (can be turned into garlic bread)
baked beans (slow cooker), rice pilaf

salads:
coleslaw seems to be the absolute cheapest and keeps for days, but also carrot salad or mixed-green salads work great too

Think like a restaurant - have a veggie, starch and a main-course, most of which can be made ahead of time.


Threshkin

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2014, 08:54:25 AM »
This time of year turkey is a very cheap protein.


netskyblue

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2014, 09:57:18 AM »
Lasagna is the last big meal I served - a 9x13 pan makes about 12 pieces, so you might want to make a 9x13 and an 8x8 (or even 2 9x13's if your guests like second helpings).  But it's an easy one to make ahead and just pop in the oven 45 minutes before dinnertime.


I served Lasagna, cottage cheese on the side (you can add it to the lasagna, but I favor it on the side), lettuce salad, homemade garlic toast (we have a bread machine) and some "red hot" pears that I canned in September.  It was my birthday so I even had brownies & ice cream for dessert.  We don't usually do dessert.

Chili & cornbread is another hearty, cheap, fill-you-up meal.

pbkmaine

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Meal for large group
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2014, 10:08:37 AM »
Chili works great, and if you make it mild but have hot sauce on hand for the fire eaters, everyone loves it. I make a vat of chili with ground beef or ground turkey, lots of beans, chili mix from the warehouse store, and tomatoes from the canned goods sale. Sometimes I add corn or other veggies. I serve it with a green salad and bags of corn chips. You can even do it vegan with meat and cheese on the side if some of your friends are so inclined.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2014, 10:23:11 AM by pbkmaine »

KES

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2014, 10:10:38 AM »
+1 on spaghetti. I like to do regular spaghetti and spaghetti squash for those avoiding pasta.

rubybeth

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2014, 10:16:10 AM »
Is a pot luck not an option? Pretty much all my extended family gatherings are pot luck style. If people are coming from out of town, bringing or picking up drinks/rolls/pies/deli side dishes is easy for those traveling. Then you can provide one or two 'main dishes' like the suggested chili or pasta, and if people want something in particular, they can bring it.

Pigeon

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2014, 10:21:18 AM »
Lasagna is my go-too for a group about this size.  Depending on the eating habits of the group, I'd probably do one with meat and one with roasted red peppers and mushrooms.  Garlic bread, salad and cookies and you're done.

galliver

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #21 on: November 17, 2014, 10:27:01 AM »
Sounds like good suggestions, and I second the roast idea (look up maple mustard pork roast on allrecipes, I recommend). Make sure you plan sides that don't require the oven! Salads, mashed potatoes, etc.

I also wanted to suggest rethinking the entire structure of the meal. When my family (parents) invite friends, the meal is typically mainly salads/sides. Potato salad, bean salad, fresh veggie salad, mushroom salad, etc. we also put out pickled foods (cukes, mushrooms, fish, bell peppers...) which is kind of a cultural thing, but  easy to serve, and we'll frequently have cheese, salami, and bread. Basically just a smorgasbord with a lot of variety abd the expectation that not everyone will eat everything.

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2014, 12:57:11 PM »
I second a taco dinner.  It always goes over very well with all guests, tastes and diets.  We do one crockpost with beef or pork roast in adobo sauce, one with beans and one with Spanish rice.  We make homemade tortillas and have some garnished like salsa, guacamole, limes and fresh cabbage.

be

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #23 on: November 18, 2014, 01:27:05 PM »
How about lasagna in the crock pot and a veg soup also in the crock pot?  For the veg soup, I do maybe 4 cans of veg (incl liquid,) 1 big can of tomatoes (incl liquid), and maybe 4 cans of broth.  Also include beans and maybe orzo and even barley.  Add additional broth or canned veg as needed.  I include some cooked ground beef.  It's really a pour and heat type of soup.

The advantage of the crock pot is you can start early and have it cook while you do other things. 

If you need a crock pot dessert what about a fruit cobbler in... you guessed it -- the crock pot.  Dump a few cans of fruit pie filling on the bottom and pour dry white or yellow cake mix on top.  Pour melted butter over and heat.  You can make this in the oven too if you run out of crock pots.


Pennsylvanian

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2014, 05:48:33 PM »
Great suggestions here. If you are considering any of the pulled pork suggestions, this is a great side to accompany pork that makes plenty for a crowd and is always a hit:

New Fashioned Apple and Raisin Slaw

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/new-fashioned-apple-raisin-slaw

The white balsamic vinegar and golden raisins cost a bit, but they also won't go to waste since they keep well. The nice thing is that this is unexpectedly tasty and low calorie next to a (usually) higher calorie sandwich like pulled pork.

BlueHouse

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #25 on: November 18, 2014, 06:29:55 PM »
Baked Ziti - I make it ahead of time.  It's great for the first serving and leftovers keep for days. 
Turkey & White bean Chili -- keep it in a crockpot all day.
jerk Chicken for tacos / salads / sandwiches.

lbdance

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #26 on: November 19, 2014, 12:41:10 AM »
Some great ideas here
I second (possibly third) the lasagne. That is one of my faves for a large group. I make a cheese sauce so it spreads the flavour without using too much cheese.
I serve with garlic bread, and coleslaw / salad

At this time of year (in the southern hemisphere) we would be doing bbq which is easy again.

I also like the curry option, plenty of flavours to choose from here and some you can bulk out with veges like you would a stew.

Pooperman

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #27 on: November 19, 2014, 05:10:09 AM »
Lasagna, pulled/roast pork are great suggestions. Here's another if you can do it: paella. Basically a giant one dish meal of rice and chicken/pork/rabbit/whatver ya got.

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #28 on: November 19, 2014, 06:44:30 AM »
+1 on spaghetti dinner. My mother used to do this for my friends and I in high school, and we loved it (also, teenagers eat mad amounts of food). 

I don't know what the make-up of the 16 people is, but you could even do small pots of 2-3 different kinds of sauce--meat, regular marinara, and one chock full of veggies (I LOVE grilled veggies in spaghetti sauce). Get in-season veggies and the meat on sale, and your costs should stay low. If you don't make your own bread, buy a fresh baguette from your grocery store, slice it in half, butter it and add a little garlic salt, maybe rosemary, and toast it in the oven. Voila! Garlic bread.

If possible, potluck it up: make some of the 16 people coming bring a salad. And dessert. And the wine.

MandalayVA

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #29 on: November 19, 2014, 08:03:45 AM »
Chili is always a good group feed.  Get tortilla chips or Fritos for impromptu nachos.

epipenguin

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #30 on: November 19, 2014, 09:30:07 AM »
Indian. 

One or two main curry dishes, a dahl dish, a huge bowl of rice, and naans.  Also all the little side salad/condiments/raita things are fun and can be done economically.  You can mix it up with hotness to cater for the tolerance of different family members - make the main dish mild and make sure you label a hot dish well, or just have a chilli sauce available for those who like it hot.

Have it buffet style if you have the room so everyone gets access to all the food options.

And you can make a moderate amount of meat go a long way in a curry, which makes it really economical, and nobody really notices that they don't have half a pound of meat each.  You can also easily cater for vegetarian or vegan guests with no big dramas.

This is what we do in my family. A few different dishes cater to different tastes/requirements, rice, and condiments go a long way. Some can be prepared ahead of time, and some like my cousin's famous curried shrimp, can be done at the last minute. We usually do a big chickpea-based dahl type thing, and often a potato-based dish too, which help to keep the cost down. As several family members are gluten free, there's not much need for naan bread, but someone usually will pick up a package of naan from a local store, which keeps the bread-eaters happy.

FarmerPete

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #31 on: November 19, 2014, 09:50:01 AM »
My family does burgers and hotdog "bars".  You can buy a box of burgers for pretty cheap, and most people will only eat 2.  Cooked out on the grill of course.

Last time that I did a big meal, I made pulled pork.  You can get pork shoulders for ~$2lb today (it used to be so much cheaper...stupid meat prices!!!).  Last time I smoked three shoulders for a grand total of 27lbs of pork.  We ate half of it to feed 12 adults and 8 kids with leftovers.  The rest got individually bagged and frozen for my small family to have 6-8 meals.

This time of year though, I second/third the turkey.  You can get a turkey for $0.54 a lb here.  Sure, you might be turkey'ed out, but that doesn't mean you can't use the turkey as your base meat.  Just get more creative.  Make a pulled turkey or a turkey chilli.  Get creative with it!  For me, getting a little creative is worth saving $2.50 a lb in meat costs!!!!

themagicman

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #32 on: November 19, 2014, 02:56:09 PM »
Wow! Some great suggestions! Thank you all for your help!

justajane

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Re: Meal for large group
« Reply #33 on: November 19, 2014, 03:11:42 PM »
Baked potatoes/sweet potatoes with lots and lots of toppings - bacon, cheese, shredded chicken, broccoli, cheese sauce, etc.

Toss a big salad as well, and you have a meal.

Also, breakfast for dinner is fun. You can do it all ahead of time as casseroles - egg, potato, french toast, sausage, etc.

Throw some frozen biscuits in the oven at the last minute and chop up some fruit and you have an impressive spread.