As I was considering the topic of cooking for a crowd I realized that some would consider our normal dinner preparation as cooking for a crowd. I generally think of groups larger than our regular 12 when I think of a crowd, but certainly when we have company it would qualify as a “crowd”. So for this post I’ll share a recipe for an inexpensive family favorite, some tips for planning a menu for company a crowd and two of our favorite ‘company’ recipes.
Be sure to see what the other moms of many are cooking up. Oh and don’t forget that you can add your own favorite ‘cooking for a crowd’ recipe at the bottom of this post and check out many others!
This recipe is one of our family favorites. It fits nicely into our budget and I can make our money go farther if I use all lentils instead of the beef. Our whole family LOVES lentil chili so I have to make a HUGE batch to satisfy everyone. I can also make it stretch by serving it over rice, especially nice if we have company drop by unexpectedly.
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp. cumin
10 c. water
1 lb. dry lentils
2 tsp. salt
2 c. salsa
29 oz. canned tomatoes, crushed
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. chili powder
Brown ground beef with the onion, drain. Add lentils and water. Simmer 1 1/2 hours. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.
Variations: Omit meat and double the amount of lentils for a vegetarian dish. Serve over rice. Top with cheese and/or sour cream.
I double or triple this recipe to feed our family of 12.
Menu planning for company
Here are some things that I’ve learned to make hospitality easier and more relaxing for us and hopefully more enjoyable for our guests. A side benefit is that we can easily have company 3 times a week (when I’m not pregnant) and not feel too overwhelmed or disrupt our regular schedule.
- I have a much looser food budget when we have company so that we can have nicer meals with easier preparation.
- I keep my recipe choices more traditional. (There are a lot of picky eaters in this world.) I almost always serve a meat or pasta dish rather than beans and rice, fish or more ethnic choices.
- I choose recipes that I can prepare ahead of time and keep warm (or cook) in the crock pot. This allows for the preparation to be done when it’s most convenient for me and the kitchen mess can be cleaned up well before company arrives. When guests arrive we simply sit down and eat. Dinner is warm (and not burned) when we’re ready to eat whether our guests are early or late.
- I like to have several sides available. I generally serve two vegetables with an everyday dinner, but with company I will add one extra side. This helps make the main dish go farther, ensures that everyone finds at least one vegetable that they like and no one leaves the table hungry.
- I like to always have homemade bread available. It’s another great filler.
Of course hospitality is much broader than having another family over for a sit-down dinner, but that is a whole different post.
Here are some of our favorite company recipes:
Cranberry Pork Roast
This is a nice traditional meat and potatoes meal with a unique twist of cranberry, so that your company has probably never had it before, unless they’ve been in our home.
4-5 lb. boneless pork loin
16 oz. jellied cranberry sauce
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cranberry juice
1 tsp. dried mustard
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Put the pork loin into the crock pot. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over roast. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Use the juices from the roast to make an AMAZING gravy. We always serve this with mashed potatoes because it would be a shame to waste this gravy.
This recipe will feed 15-20.
Ground Beef Stroganoff
A less expensive dinner option for a larger crowd. I am particular to recipes that are served over pasta and/or rice when having company because it’s very easy to stretch to feed more people if your husband invites another family or two over at the last minute. When that happens I just make more pasta and/or rice and heap the plates high.
2 lb ground beef
2 med. onions, chopped
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced (you may do more or less)
2 T. butter, melted
2- 10 3/4 can cream of mushroom soup (substitute ‘from scratch’ varieties)
16 oz. sour cream
Brown ground beef, drain. Add onion and cook until onion is tender. Add mushrooms and butter, cook until mushrooms are tender. Stir in flour, garlic salt and pepper until mixed. Mix in soup and place in crock pot. Cook on low until a half hour before eating, then stir in sour cream. (Everything is cooked when you add it to the crock pot, so there is no need to leave it in the crock pot all day.)
Now it’s your turn, what are your favorite ‘feed a crowd’ recipes? Link them up here and your link will show up on all four of the 4 Moms blogs.
Please enter your recipe name in addition to the name of your blog, so that people can find the recipes they are most interested in. Remember to link to the specific post with your recipe and please, provide a link back here so your readers can share in the fun! (links that don’t follow these guidelines will be removed)