Entertaining 50 Guests
Cooking for a crowd is not the easiest part of entertaining unless you have experience in cooking for a large number of people. One thing that can be confusing is when you need to determine the amount of food needed. Also cooks will try to just multiply the recipe ingredients to feed larger crowds, not always the best approach, try batch cooking instead. So if you need to determine how many pounds of meat, how many potatoes, or how much pasta will be needed for a group of 50, this is where you can start. Here even experienced cooks can use some basic cooking skills help.
First, start with a simple menu where most if not all the dishes can be made in advance. There is just not enough time in the day to prepare everything the same day unless you have others helping and a very large kitchen. Any entrée that can be cooked the day before the party and then reheated the day of the party will help. If it is a buffet style where guests may be balancing the plate with one hand while standing, choose food that can be dished up in bite sized proportions and does not require cutting or handling with two hands.
Amount of Food for Quanity Cooking
The amount of food necessary when cooking for a crowd will depend upon the food being served, the occasion and the guests. However there are some guidelines that can help. Catering companies deal with this every day and you can use some of the same guidelines at home. How to have a large group people entertained in your own home for a party? Below are some general ideas for a single person serving that can be multiplied times the number of guests.
- Appetizers: 6 – 8 bite size pieces
- Soup: 1 cup if a starter or 2 – 3 cups if a main dish
- Salad: 3 oz or 1 cup
- Dressing: 2 ½ oz
- Chicken, beef, fish or port: 6 – 7 oz
- Potato, pasta or rice: 5 oz
- Dessert: 1 – 2 pieces
- Hamburgers and hotdogs: 1 ½ pieces
- Shrimp: 4 – 5 oz of raw unpeeled pieces
- Punch: 12 – 16 oz
- Cocktails: 2 – 3 drinks
*1 cup = 8 oz, 1 quart = 32 oz, 1 pound = 16 oz
However, the complete menu will help determine the quantities of each individual dish. Servings can be less for a five course meal than a three course meal, less for a noon luncheon than an evening dinner and less if not serving young adults. Also if there are two main dishes, the individual quantities can be cut in half for each dish, three oz of chicken and three oz of fish for example.
When preparing large quantities of food or quantity cooking, it is recommended to just use endless multiplications of ingredients for larger dishes. Some recipes have limits on how much they can be expanded. There would be no problem with doubling or tripling a mashed potato recipe. However as a general rule it is better to make multiple separate dishes of the same recipe or batch cooking. If you have a recipe for four and you need it to serve sixteen, the recommended method would be to double the recipe for eight and then prepare two separate batches of eight for a total of sixteen. For many desserts it is best to make a single batch repeatedly.
When cooking for a crowd, you will need adequate cookware, ample storage containers, sufficient refrigerator space, plenty of serving platters/bowls and sufficient ways to keep some foods hot. Once you have the guest list and the menu, go over exactly how and what is needed to prepare and serve each dish. You may need to enlist the help of someone else’s kitchen or even a caterer to do part of the preparation.
If entertaining 50 guests, everyone will not like everything you provide, so don’t worry about it. However you should provide your guests with different selections. Not everyone likes chicken or fish. When serving a crowd, buffet style is highly recommended. With a buffet style there should be several dish options for selection, especially for 25 or more guests, which means people will take smaller portions of multiple dishes.
One last thing to remember is food safety. Pay special attention to perishable foods that need to be refrigerated until being cooked and served. For large buffets, have a couple batches of each dish that can be put out at different times to keep the servings fresh.