125 answers

Fast, Economical Lunch for 40

I know this question has been asked about a million times, but I need it answered again! Please bear with me! Anyway, my daughter's 2nd birthday is in a couple weeks and we have a large family. Just the immediate family is invited to the party, and that ends up being about 40 people. I need ideas for a simple lunch that won't break the bank. We did sandwiches last year so I don't want to go that route. Any ideas for a meal that won't take forever and a day to prepare and is somewhat budget-friendly?
Thanks for your help!

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WOW! I am pleasantly surprised at all your awesome responses. It is great to know that I have a great group of moms to turn to with all my questions.
We have decided to go with a hot dog lunch. We found 30 packs of hot dogs at Sams's for $4 so we really can't go wrong! Thanks so much for all of your help, I am sure my daughter's party will be wonderful.

Featured Answers

I just had my daughters 3rd B-day at the end of January and was looking for something just like you, fast and affordable. I made 3 9x13 pans of mostacholi casserole two weeks before, put them in the freezer and then two days before put them in the frig to thaw. If you want the recipe that I made just let me know. Then I had family make a few salads and I made garlic bread. I also had them bring some appetizers since everyone came over early. I come from an all italian family so pasta is always a hit!

5 moms found this helpful

Roaster ideas
How about a indoor hot dog roast...
Ask certain families to bring the condiments,buns,side salads,cheese-celery sticks-carrot sticks etc pickles, vegetable cold or and hot, plates chips,dips, plates,cups, napkins and drinks.

Loose meat called maid rites with/wo cheese on bun.
Ask certain families to bring the condiments,buns,side salads,cheese-celery sticks-carrot sticks etc pickles, vegetable cold or and hot, plates chips,dips, plates,cups, napkins and drinks.

Roasted meat/s, chicken,etc.
Ask certain families to bring the condiments,buns,side salads,cheese-celery sticks-carrot sticks etc pickles, vegetable cold or and hot, plates chips,dips, plates,cups, napkins and drinks.

Spaghetti
Ask certain families to bring the condiments,buns,side salads,cheese-celery sticks-carrot sticks etc pickles, vegetable cold or and hot, plates chips,dips, plates,cups, napkins and drinks.

How about chicken wraps, Tex Mex, chicken strips,chicken ,tacos,pop corn chicken, children love chicken animals shape
peices and children and animal frozen fries,fries,broasted chicken and or fries.
Ask certain families to bring the condiments,buns,side salads,cheese-celery sticks-carrot sticks etc pickles, vegetable cold or and hot, plates chips,dips, plates,cups, napkins and drinks.
=====================================
Or cold cuts
Or Chicken salad in taco shells ,or in pita sleeves
Ask certain families to bring the condiments,buns,side salads,cheese-celery sticks-carrot sticks etc pickles, vegetable cold or and hot, plates chips,dips, plates,cups, napkins and drinks.
================================
Desert ideas
How about a cake and also jello jigglers or and cup cakes or cake baked in a cone the kids can decorate with cake spinkle toppings- cool whip etc.
A good desert idea the other children can do and bring as part of their shareing and helping.
===================================
D. let me know how it goes please. Hope these ideas help

4 moms found this helpful

I did a baked potato bar for my son's baptism and it worked out great. You can bake the potatoes ahead of time, and then put them in an empty cooler to keep them hot. Then you just have the fixin's and a salad. I also had tortilla chips because with cheese and chili for the potatoes you can also make nachos. Hope this helps, it was super easy, and it went over really well for us.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

L.,

TACOS! We have done this lots of times, for everywhere from 40-200! Everyone seems to like the things (except me and my mother, who is 84...)so we are really popular when we serve them. It is a "build your own" taco bar - a LOT less work for you and run about $1.25 per serving and that's buying everything at the local supermarket, not a membership club. All you have to do is cook up the hamburger w/taco seasoning, cut up the tomatoes, and maybe the lettuce if you can't find it already shredded. You just set everything out and your guests make it their own way - remember to have both soft flour and hard corn shells. They can also crunch up the hard shells for a taco salad if that is their bag.

Sorry I'm so late getting to you on this, but we have had some health issues this past week with my hubby (the cook)in the hospital. Between work and hospital visits, I have not had time to get on the computer. If you already have something else planned, keep this in mind for another time. It seems to be enjoyed by all age groups. Add a bit of fruit and bars for dessert and you have it all. Need qty of stuff to fix, send email to ____@____.com

8 moms found this helpful

Three of my best cost-effective party menus also serve as part of the entertainment since folks seem to love "Do It Yourself" menus. These can all be made to look like very expensive meals - presentation is everything.

Taco Bar
Taco Shells, Flour Tortillas, Taco Seasoned Hamburger, Bean Dip (layer 2 cans refried beans + about 3 cups salsa and top with shredded cheddar, heat for about 30 minutes at 350), Shredded Cheese, Shredded Lettuce, Chunky Salsa (more cost-effective than chopped tomatoes), Sour Cream, Taco Sauce and French Dressing for those who like theirs "Minnesota Mild". Add other favorite toppings as your budget will allow. Have lots of salsa, chips and extra fix'ns for the bean dip, as some will use it to make bean burritos and the rest will love it with tortilla chips.

Baked Potato Bar
Serve various sizes of Baked Potatoes in a big basket with a handle. Put out a crockpot of thick Chili, one of Hamburger Stroganoff and one Cheese Soup. (Ask if you want the recipes.) Again put out, Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese, Chopped Onions, Crumbled Bacon, Chopped Ham, get creative. Serve with a big lettuce salad and/or garlic toast. You may want to have a stack of foam, throw away bowls next to the Chili and the Cheese Soup. Some will prefer just a bowl of soup and Garlic Toast.

Sundae Bar
Self-explanatory? Bananas, Chocolate, Butterscotch, Caramel, frozen Strawberries, Pineapple (?), Chopped Peanuts, Sunny Meats, Mini Chocolate Chips, M & M's, Confetti Sprinkles, even Colored Miniature Marshmallows (your 2 year old will love them :-). Make your own Hot Fudge and Caramel to save money. Then splurge on canned "squirty cream" (Reddi-Whip)in a can. Have an afternoon party and serve just this with Birthday Cake. Buying banana split boats from a food service or even a local DQ type place will make it even more fun.

These are just three out of LOTS of our regularly used menus that economically stretch to fit the size crowd. Ask if you want more.

7 moms found this helpful

My daughter just turned 5. There were 38 people there and we made large meatballs and a huge pan of cheesy potato (hashbrown) casserole. It was a HIT! I had to e-mail the meatball recipe to my entire family after the party! I also had some baby carrots and grapes on the side. I was able to make everything the night before and put it in 2 large aluminum casserole dishes (the size you would bake a turkey in) and throw them in the oven 2 hours before we ate...so I enjoyed the party too! Here's the meatball recipe. I doubled it.

Meatballs & Sauce

2 # ground beef
1 # ground pork
2 cups soda cracker crumbs
1 cup finely diced onion
1 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp. chili powder

Sauce:
2 cups ketchup
2 T. liquid smoke
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together and shape into large
balls.  (usually you can make 40 meatballs per recipe)
Put all meatballs into two cake pans and bake in a
single layer for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Then drain off any grease and combine all the meatballs into one pan and pour on the sauce. Bake for 1 hour longer at same
temperature.

7 moms found this helpful

http://homecooking.about.com/library/weekly/aa022299.htm

http://www.razzledazzlerecipes.com/quantity/

here are a couple of sites for you to check out. I just googled "cooking for a crowd" there are dozens of sites.

doubling or tripling recipes can be tricky. it's best to find a recipe that's designed for the quantity you need.

to keep costs down, i'd be tempted to look for something like a casserole or egg brunch dish, but that's not too appealing to a 2 yr old.....

6 moms found this helpful

Tacos-in-a-Bag are fun and you don't need extra plates as they are made in and eaten directly from the Fritos chip bag.

Fritos corn chips mini-bags. Chili. Cheese. Sour cream. Guacamole. Chopped, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, green onions. Or anything else you put on taco salad (a.k.a. "haystacks").

Serve a drink and a self-contained dessert (popscicles, go-gurt or grapes on the stem) and you've got a low hassle, low clean-up meal.

6 moms found this helpful

we do "walking taco's"... make taco meat and all the fixin's, intead of shells, go to costco or sams and get individual bags of nacho chips, before opening crush the chips, then with scissors cut the top across (about 1/4)so you have a pouch, add a spponful of meat and whatever else (we do buffet style), we also use plastic tableware no mess, takes about half hour to prepare, and even better..... NO CLEAAAN UP.... just throw your "bag away. it also takes less of everything cuz you can only get about a spoonful of everything in you chip pouch. My family love them.

6 moms found this helpful

How about Barbeque muffins?
Make up barbecue (browned hamburger and either your own bbq recipe or mix). I use Grands bicuits and quarter them, and then flatten them (stretch out a little). Then you put the biscuit in the bottom of muffin tin, try to get it to cover the bottom and go up the sides a little as well. But the bbq in the muffin tin, and then top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 º til cheese is melted and muffins are light brown. Easy to serve cuz they come out ina nice little muffin!

6 moms found this helpful

I just had my daughters 3rd B-day at the end of January and was looking for something just like you, fast and affordable. I made 3 9x13 pans of mostacholi casserole two weeks before, put them in the freezer and then two days before put them in the frig to thaw. If you want the recipe that I made just let me know. Then I had family make a few salads and I made garlic bread. I also had them bring some appetizers since everyone came over early. I come from an all italian family so pasta is always a hit!

5 moms found this helpful

I had the best budget conscious lunch for my daughter's bday. We did Hot Dogs, but we did an under the water theme and turned the hot dogs into an Octopus. Before cooking, cut the dogs lengthwise (a couple times), so there are four strips, leaving 1 inch whole at the top (the head of the Octopus). When you boil the hot dogs, the legs (or tentacles) curl up a bit, making it look like a real ctobpus.

We scooped a spoonful of macaroni and cheese (with a drop or two of green food dye mixed in to represent a bed of seaweed) onto a plate and placed the hot dog on top of it with the "head" standing up on top. Add two dots of mustard for eyes and voila, you have the cutest lunch plate ever for kids to eat. It was a huge hit and dirt cheap. The adults loved it too. Super simple.

Have fun!

5 moms found this helpful

We did baked ziti, salad & french bread for my son's fourth. In the morning I browned 2 lb hamburger and a tube of Italian sausage in a chili pot, then added 3-4 tall cans of Hunts traditional tomato sauce, 2 small cans tom. paste, 3 cans diced tomatoes, and 3 envelopes of McCormick's thick & zesty spaghetti sauce seasoning. I cooked 3 or 4 boxes of ziti, mixed it all up in the chili pot that the sauce was in, and dumped the whole thing into an x-large disposable baking pan. I just stuck that in the fridge until about a half hour before party time, then I baked it for 30-45 ____@____.com last 15 minutes I covered it w/ mozarella, and put a sliced, buttered loaf of french bread wrapped in foil in with it. Then I just dumped a few bags of pre-made salad in a mixing bowl, tossed in some dressing and croutons and called it good. Best part- I just threw away the baking pan after the party! You could pick up a fruit or veggie tray at the store to stretch it out a bit. Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful

L.,
What fun! We have 4 children ourselves so I know about creating fabulous meals for a large group on a budget and quickly! :-)
Go to our Tastefully Simple website, www.tastefullysimple.com/web/jotte there are over 2000 recipes there from appetizers to desserts!In most cases you can double the recipe and still use the same amount of TS products! They are sooo yummy and good! Everyone will ask you what you did and all the recipes are sooo easy too! Feel free to email directly if you have any questions or want specific ideas at ____@____.com. Simply, J.

5 moms found this helpful

Two ideas - I have done both before. Idea one: taco bar. All you have to do is cook the taco meat, chop a few tomatoes and onions and set it all out with shells, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, black olives, salsa, etc. You can put the meat in a crock pot to keep it warm, and provide tortilla chips for those who would rather have a taco salad. Easy, and not terribly expensive per person. Idea two: baked potato bar. Toss the spuds in the oven to bake, and set up a fixin's bar with sour cream, butter, chopped broccoli (buy frozen and thaw in fridge), bacon bits, chives, onion, cheese, etc. Both ideas are pretty economical and offer people some variety and choice and are foods most people eat.
Good luck - have fun!

4 moms found this helpful

Roaster ideas
How about a indoor hot dog roast...
Ask certain families to bring the condiments,buns,side salads,cheese-celery sticks-carrot sticks etc pickles, vegetable cold or and hot, plates chips,dips, plates,cups, napkins and drinks.

Loose meat called maid rites with/wo cheese on bun.
Ask certain families to bring the condiments,buns,side salads,cheese-celery sticks-carrot sticks etc pickles, vegetable cold or and hot, plates chips,dips, plates,cups, napkins and drinks.

Roasted meat/s, chicken,etc.
Ask certain families to bring the condiments,buns,side salads,cheese-celery sticks-carrot sticks etc pickles, vegetable cold or and hot, plates chips,dips, plates,cups, napkins and drinks.

Spaghetti
Ask certain families to bring the condiments,buns,side salads,cheese-celery sticks-carrot sticks etc pickles, vegetable cold or and hot, plates chips,dips, plates,cups, napkins and drinks.

How about chicken wraps, Tex Mex, chicken strips,chicken ,tacos,pop corn chicken, children love chicken animals shape
peices and children and animal frozen fries,fries,broasted chicken and or fries.
Ask certain families to bring the condiments,buns,side salads,cheese-celery sticks-carrot sticks etc pickles, vegetable cold or and hot, plates chips,dips, plates,cups, napkins and drinks.
=====================================
Or cold cuts
Or Chicken salad in taco shells ,or in pita sleeves
Ask certain families to bring the condiments,buns,side salads,cheese-celery sticks-carrot sticks etc pickles, vegetable cold or and hot, plates chips,dips, plates,cups, napkins and drinks.
================================
Desert ideas
How about a cake and also jello jigglers or and cup cakes or cake baked in a cone the kids can decorate with cake spinkle toppings- cool whip etc.
A good desert idea the other children can do and bring as part of their shareing and helping.
===================================
D. let me know how it goes please. Hope these ideas help

4 moms found this helpful

Everyone loves pizza! If you have a Little Ceasers near you-large pepperoni and large cheese pizzas are only $5 each. I think Dominoes does that too some places.

Otherwise-throw some mini corn dogs, chicken nuggets (dinosaur shaped), and tator tots in the oven. You can get large bags of these at your grocery store or if you or someone you know has a Costco membership-I'd suggest using it. Punch is always a better idea than pop-you can get some juice in it, and 2-liters are less expensive than cans. Buy a bushel of grapes or cans of pineapple (in its own juice)and you're ready to party.

Punch: frozen Passion fruit juice concentrate with sprite or Ginger Ale is simple and good-throw some frozen strawberries in for color.

That's what we did for our sons 3rd b-day and everyone thought it was perfect for a kids party-after all-you don't want to serve caviar at a kid's b-day, right? :)

A.

4 moms found this helpful

I did this one year for my sons b/day. Have you heard of 'walking tacos'?

- crush a handful or two of fritos and put in a plastic cup or 12 oz. styrophome bowl.
- take a couple scoops of ground beef (already cooked, seasoned & drained) and put over the fritos.
- top with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, onions, sour cream... (all the above optional).
- stick a fork in the cup and serve.

Make this fun for kids, buy the small individual bags of fritos so each child has thier own frito bag filled with above ingrediences.

* Don't forget to crush the fritos. ENJOY!

4 moms found this helpful

What about a chili? I have a great recipe that uses 4 pounds of meat.... It could easily be doubled. Plus, you could make it the day before and just heat it up the next day. A little cheese, sour cream and crackers or cornbread for sides and you're set! Good luck! If you want my recipe, email me at ____@____.com and I'd be happy to share it!

4 moms found this helpful

This is a great time in your childs life to start encouraging good nutrition. Read the ingredients in the hotdogs. I knew I had a problem when I told my kids not to feed the hotdog to my dog as it would not be good for him. WOW! what a statement. I had to step back and think -What was I saying no hotdogs for my dog but letting my kids eat them. So now no one in our family eats them. I suggest a great variety of fruits and veggie tray. Check out askdrsears.com for more food suggestions. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But the diet that we feed our kids today will determine their health tomorrow.

3 moms found this helpful

Hi L., For my daughters graduation parties I did crock pots filled with sloppy joes then chips & veggies, a taco bar with crock pot full of meat & the counter filled with taco shells, corn chips & lettuce so it could be made into a taco salad if desired & then toppings like salsa, sour cream etc... I've also seen turkeys pre-cooked & then served warm from the crock pot with rolls for sandwiches then a veggie tray & chips. All these are easy to make ahead & then be sure & get sturdy throw away dishes to ease the cleanup & this allows you to spend time with the guests & not in the kitchen. Have fun at the party & congratulations on the wedding!

3 moms found this helpful

How about a Chili supper? I add ground turkey to my ground beef to make it stretch further. I also cook my chili in a large Crock Pot or slow cooker. If you have any zucchini, grate it or grind it and add it. No one will ever know its in there. Serve with soup crackers and corn tortilla chips, some celery and carrot sticks and you have a meal. Easy and economical!

3 moms found this helpful

I make dinner for 40-60 people every Wed night at church and here are some of the favorites. Usually i can make them for under $60. Also don't be afraid to have bring something if they volunteer.
Pulled Pork sandwiches w/ chips a salad and carrots w/ dip.
Tacos- softshell w/ chips if they want to make a taco salad.
Pasta - noodles(penne), sauce, brown some burger some cheese, breadsticks and a salad.
Homemade mac and cheese w/ salad and buns.
Hotdog/chillidog bar
If you need anymore ideas let me know. I usually hit Sams for most items.
Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful

Another mother and myself hosted a 5thgrade class party last year. We entertained and feed the whole class. Our meal was taco-in-a-bag and rootbeer floats. Simple and not too expensive. Just your mini bags of Doritos (cheap at sams club) taco meat, lettuce, cheese and we also did tomato and sour cream but you could save and not do that. You can usually find pails of ice cream and 2 liters of root beer on sale. We had a blast and kids and adults loved it.

3 moms found this helpful

Try a hot dog buffet - there are 100's of toppings for a hotdog - chili, cheese, sourkraut, ketsup, mustard, pickles, a mixture of several of these, French onion chip dip, tomatoe relish, BBQ sauce, onions, etc....
You can even creativily decorate your table
http://www.creativecreativity.com/2007/02/liven_up_your_h...
Remember it's not the food that makes the occasion its the conversation - keep it simple!

3 moms found this helpful

I did a baked potato bar for my son's baptism and it worked out great. You can bake the potatoes ahead of time, and then put them in an empty cooler to keep them hot. Then you just have the fixin's and a salad. I also had tortilla chips because with cheese and chili for the potatoes you can also make nachos. Hope this helps, it was super easy, and it went over really well for us.

2 moms found this helpful

Try a nacho bar: tortilla chips, taco meat, cheese, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, onions... Everyone gets to make their meal the way they like it. I would put the taco meat in a crockpot. This takes very little preparation. Most things can be prepared in advance. Our family has used this several times with large groups. It has always been a hit.

Good-luck,
D.

2 moms found this helpful

I don't know what kind of sandwiches you did last year...but i have done turkey sandwiches. What you do is buy a couple turkeys(frozen). And thaw them out....cook them up the night or day before. Make sure there is plenty of liquids in the roaster so it doesn't dry out. And de-bone the whole turkey. And with the meat you want to shred it and add turkey gravy--i usually buy the gravy in the jar that is already done. You put all of this in a slow-cooker and heat it all up. Add salt and pepper. And it makes great sandwiches---and everyone loves it. And you could serve it with chips and a noodle salad.

2 moms found this helpful

Congratulations on your wedding! Fun! What we just did in January for our kids 5 and 2, was pizza! Just plain ole Tombstone topped with extra cheese (of course), salad, pop (2 liters), juice and cake. It worked out really well actually! We just cooked 2 at a time, so there was always hot pizza and everyone loved it! Even the kids! They are on sale at Coborns right now, buy 2 get 2 free!

2 moms found this helpful

Ask your family to bring something to share and make it a potluck dinner. You supply the main dish " slow cooked roast, baked ham, turkey," and if yo think you will need it ask someone else to make another main and bring if they can. My husbands family is also large and we have about 30 at the IL's house when we do partys for our girls. My MIL makes bked ham, 2 salads and asks everyone else to bring pop/drink they want, a veggie platter, fruit platter, and 2 side dishes. Its alot of work but everyone always has had alot of fun. But this yr we didnt go to their home we did our own thing with the girls and still had fun. Good luck and Happy Birthday to your lil girl.

2 moms found this helpful

Soup, salad, and appetizers. Easy to prepare ahead of time so you can enjoy the party too. You could make potato soup and have topping options on the side (serve in cup size bowls so that it will fit on the plate). A basic salad with 2-3 dressing favorites. For the kids you could do appetizer portion pizzas ( Trader Joes has some great 2" R cheese pizza quick, easy and affordable). Fruit platter and a cheese and cracker platter will complete the meal nicely. This is simple and should satisfy everyone's palette.

2 moms found this helpful

I would recommend Spaghetti! You can make the pasta 1 day ahead, and seal it in large zip lock baggies. The trick to making sure it doesnt stick together is to put a little olive oil in the pasta after its cooked and drained. On the day of your event place the pasta in a roaster to heat and the sauce in a crockpot or another roaster. Everyone can help themselves. If you feel like it you could throw some garlic bread in the oven but it wouldnt be necessary. A good sauce to use that you dont need any meat with is Prego Chunky Garden Combo. You wont even miss the meat! Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

L.,

I don't think there is anything wrong with just sloppy joes and Doritos. You could supply cheap soda in a cooler (like Sam's Choice or Shasta, or some other regular brand), or make a large jug of Kool-aid. My hubby always makes this incredible sloppy joe recipe with hamburger (how ever many pounds you need) and a jar of salsa--you pick your favorite. Plus, we've found these really, really, good buns at the Walmart deli (there's like 10 or 12 per bag @ $2 and some change a bag). You have to cut them yourself, but they're really good and cheaper than any other hammie bun we've found otherwise. You can always round out the meal with veggies and dip (a bag of baby carrots, a head of broccoli and/or cauliflower--cut them yourself--and a bottle of dressing). Good luck! And have fun!

2 moms found this helpful

Pasta dishes are inexpensive and easy to do! You could do spaghetti, or our personal favorite....pizza noodles! We atke rotini, mix in shaghetti sauce, mozzerella, and any other pizza toppings you like (pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, onions, etc!) Bagged salad or veggie sgo well with it!

2 moms found this helpful

Pulled Beef - or Pork. I do this for Chanukah or Passover each year when we have a big family gathering. Just stick a pot roast in the crockpot the night before, frozen! Add seasonings, and dump a bottle or 2 of BBQ sauce on it. It will be falling apart by dinner! If you need it for lunch, use a thawed roast. I had Worchester sause, paprika, sea salt, and pepper for seasonings. Serve with fresh veggies, rolls, and fruit. It is a hit every year!

2 moms found this helpful

a pork roast, a beef roast, a liter of ginger ale, and two bottles of Heinz Kickrs (spicy ketchup). Roast at 350 degrees for 8 hours day before. Shred with two forks. stick in crock pot next day and serve with buns. People love it.

2 moms found this helpful

Have you thought about chili? Tacos are also an easy thing because, like sandwiches, people can assemble them to their liking. Chili is easy because you can just have it in the crockpot. Either way, I'm sure it will be a lot of fun and everyone will enjoy whatever you make!

2 moms found this helpful

How about "indian" tacos or walking tacos. Both are fun and not too spendy. For the "Indian" tacos you just need the fry bread and your taco meat and such and for the walking tacos you need individaul bags of Dorito chips, crunched up, cut the bag along the side, add you taco fixings sitck a fork in it and they walk off with it. I have done these with brownies as dessert and never have leftovers.

2 moms found this helpful

We just had my sons first birthday party and ordered Pizza Mia pizzas. I too have a large family (about 30 were present) and didn't want to do anything too expensive or time-consuming. Everyone loved the pizza and they are only $5 each if you order three or more. We ordered twelve and only used six pizzas for all those people. I also made a veggie tray and it was practically gone. The meal was very economical and yummy! You can never go wrong with pizza! Best of luck!

2 moms found this helpful

Going with a practical party, try making BBQ sandwiches and supply buns. Ask family to help by doing a pot luck for the rest of the meal. That way you spend for meat, buns, cake, and punch. Easy punch recipe: 2 liter of 7 Up, 1 pack of sugar free kool-aide, rasberry sherbert.
Make pack of kool-aide and freeze some night before, day of party put in frozen kool-aide, rest of kool-aide, 7 up, and scoop in half sherbert, mix and serve. If you use diet 7 up anyone with diabetes may drink it as well. Good luck and enjoy your daughter's big day.

2 moms found this helpful

We have huge birthday parties for our daughter, we have found a taco bar or spagetti are great since the prep work is minimal especially if you get shredded cheese from Sam's. Have fun!

1 mom found this helpful

We always make up a big batch of barbeque when we have a party. You can make it up ahead of time and plug it in when you want to warm it up. We set up a large table with barbeque, buns, chips & dip, fruit and cake. Everyone goes through the line when they want to eat and you don't have to do anything. It gives you alot more time to visit with everyone instead of serving food. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

Why not try pasta this year? You could have a tossed salad, breadsticks, and some time of pasta.
If you are good with lasagna, two large pans would be plenty - one with meat and one vegetarian option. Then, if your daughter and younger relatives are anything like my picky eaters...have some plain spaghetti noodles ready to go!
If lasagna is not your thing, why not go with spaghetti,linguine or even fettucine alfredo. Jarred sauces are huge time savers and taste great with a bit of extra seasoning.
You can get ready-to-warm breadsticks in just about every store bakery area. Save time with bagged salads or toss up your own.
Good luck and have fun!

1 mom found this helpful

We have a big family gathering every summer, & each section of family is responsible for 1 meal. We have to feed 50-60 people usually. Last year we did tacos in a bag with all the fixin's (salsa & Ranch dressing, toppings, etc) & fruit salsa with cinnamon chips. Buying most items in bulk it cost about $1.80/person. Another year we did ham, corn, & scalloped potatoes. Each went in their own crockpot so minimal preparation. Again, we bought in bulk (the big cans of corn & industrial-sized boxes of scalloped potatoes). It cost less than $1/person! That meal was fleshed out with salads, fruits, & sweets that others provided though too.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.!

We do this same type of thing for my daughter's birthday's. What we do every year and what works really well, is this. We have a Birthday Barbecue, we provide the meat, drinks and cake and then asks guest to bring a side dish to share. When money is good we have done chicken and burgers, when money is tight we have done hot dogs =) For drinks, you can buy 2-liters of soda or even a large drink cooler of lemonade or kool-aid. My mom always makes the cake because that is something really special for her to do for the girls. Most people don't mind bringing a side dish, and they can make it really simple, veggies and dip, chips. I usually leave it really open, and if they can't bring anything, it's not a problem. Family love the parties because they get a chance to see each other and the kids have a blast. I hope this helps!?

1 mom found this helpful

For my daughter's 1st birthday, we did a baked potato bar. The taters went in the oven a couple hours ahead of time and then we had different toppings like cheese, sour cream, onions, bacon bits, steamed veggies, salsa, taco meat, etc. We also did a chicken, but no one really ate much of that. It was very filling and fun for people to pick out their own toppings.

1 mom found this helpful

I love the "Under the Sea" theme and had seen the octopus idea on a bed of spaghetti noodles in a Quick Cookin' magazine I received a couple of years ago. I like the mac 'n cheese idea even better! Our daughter will turn 4 in December, so we might do an indoor "Under the Sea" party. Thanks for the idea!

One little tidbit in response to the nutritional issue surrounding hot dogs. There are several different brands that make turkey dogs. We've tried the majority and seem to like Bar-S the best and they're not as pricey as some of the other brands. Also, Hebrew National are a more healthy, Kosher hot dog. They're a little more costly, but a flavorful, more healthy hot dog.

1 mom found this helpful

While I appreciate your budgetary concerns, I'm on a tight one myself, please think about it.... 30 hotdogs for $4.00. One has to wonder about the quality of those dogs. You are probably not aware that conventional, idustry meat ones are filled with hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, silage sludge and even cow crap?! I wasn't. Sorry, but I'm just had to write you to please do your family right by doing the research. So many people get sick from low quality meat, short and long term. I'm sure you'll not want to be feeding your beautiful daughter such horrid 'food' in the future. I was unaware till I was told and then did my own research and was absolutely appalled by what they put in our food.
Yes, we now only eat organic meat and milk. Strawberries, peaches, peppers too are drenched with carcinogenic pesticides too. I'm sorry to rain on your party but maybe in the future, do your health a favor and get informed. I'm not the least bit sorry I did and was grateful to my friends. Sorry to preach, I'm not the best with words, but I do care.
I would also suggest a potluck with that many people. That's a lot to feed!

1 mom found this helpful

sloppy joes is easy or if you stick a couple roasts in the crock pot the night before, you can shred it and add barbeque sauce and eat roast beef sandwiches. We always grill burgers but that gets spendy for a large group. You could also plan the party after lunch and save yourself the extra stress. I find that you are able to be more social with family when you don't have to run around mad in the kitchen. What about cold salads? Lastly, you could arrange for it to be a pot luck or have a few close family members bring something. Hope this helps

1 mom found this helpful

I think BBQ's are an easy, inexpensive way to feed a large group of people and maybe some of your family memebers wouldn't mind bringing a dish to pass. But remember not to worry so much about the food, it is about the company and conversation with the people you love.

1 mom found this helpful

We did hot dogs at my sons party and had a small crock pot of chili for adults, it was inexpensive and was a hit! We did chips, lemonade, jello jigglers, and a pastsa salad! Hope this works or helps...have a great party and good luck with your wedding!

1 mom found this helpful

I would go with a Taco/ Burrito Bar. 90% of the prep can be done well before hand (the night before). Just heat hard and soft shells. Fry up some ground beef (leave the spice out in case people don't like it spicy...) and shredded chicken...put these into crock pots. Maybe heat up a can of re-fried beans. Then slice/ dice lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers. Put out a couple of jars of taco sauce.

1 mom found this helpful

Ready made meatballs in Famous Dave's BBQ sauce, cooked up in a crockpot are always a hit! I get the best price on ingredients at Sam's Club. Another easy one is Taquitos served with salsa (also at Sam's).

SAHM of seven - done a lot of dedications,graduations and showers.

1 mom found this helpful

We are having hot dogs for my kids party. I plan on boiling them and putting them in the bun before the party. I will wrap them in foil and leave them in the oven on warm and when it is time to eat just put them out nice and warm. That way the bun gets soft. I also bought those mini bags of chips at Costco. They come 50 to a pack for a little over 8.00. I will probably buy a big container of potato salad more for the parents.

In response to the previous poster about Hot Dogs being bad for you. What is really bad for you in a hot dog is the nitrates. But that is easily avoided by purchasing natural all beef hot dogs. I don't buy any thing else. Trader Joes has an excellent one and I just noticed that Costco sells a natural one in a 3 pack for about 8.00.

1 mom found this helpful

I think walking tacos or loose meat sandwiches always works nicely. You can keep the meat in a crockpot and it stays warm. It's also nice to have something warm at this time of year. My daughter turns 1 at the end of the month and I'll probably end up doing something like this for her party. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I have heard of hot ham and cheese sandwiches with chips and dip or hot dogs on a bun with chips and dip. You can put both in crock pots!!! Or even BBQ's in the crock pot! None of those take long at all and are fairly in expensive! Hope this helps and have a great time!!

we've done sloppy joes for large groups. We pick up the ground beef when it's on sale and freeze it till it's ready. THen we prepare it the night before or morning of and put it in a slow cooker/crock pot to keep it warm all day.

L.,
Have you thought about maybe going with a pot luck. You could maybe do a couple of meat options and the cake and ice cream and ask your family members to bring salads, veggie tray, breads,chips,drinks, etc...that way you will have more time to enjoy the party and spend time with everyone at the party if you aren't worrying about the food. This option also will help keep you from emptying your bank account. Your family should be more than happy to pitch in to make it a happy birthday for your daughter and a great get together for the whole family. Or you could just go with cake and ice cream and not worry about feeding everyone a full meal. Hope you have a great party.

L.

Spagetti and meat sauce, a simple salad, garlic bread is a nice economical meal for a large family.

Spaghetti a salad and garlic bread. It goes a long way! Otherwise a more spendy meal is roast beef or roast prork with mashed potatoes etc. Tacos and enchiladas but that gets expesive with the veggies that you buy but everything can be made prior to that day. Chili or chicken noodleor dumpling soup are big hits too. Everyone always has sandwiches so I try different things. Good luck.

What about a big pot of Chili or some spagetti? Those are two meals with cheap ingredients. Have you also thought about having a potluck? I wouldn't be afraid of asking people to bring some sides at least...If they have ever entertained, they will understand and be willing to help.

I don't see anything wrong with having the party a little later in the day, and just having cake!! I have done that plenty of times, and it has worked out great..

Ham is always a great crowd pleaser. You could serve with a pasta salad and some dinner rolls. Or chicken (legs are always inexpensive) with rice-a-roni and cream of chicken soup and baked makes a great meal too. My last suggestion would be to make homemade pizzas. Best of luck to you.

Hi, L.
I have the same problem, large family. I have done sloppy joe's in a crockpot, chips, pickels ect.
Good Luck!
S.

Taco bars are fun. You can cook and season meat ahead of time and get prepackaged cheese, lettuce.... I've also used Qdoba which was delicious. Another altnerative is to do appetizers. Go to Sams, get mini pizza's, cheese and crackers, chips and dip, whatever looks good. It's a fun alternative and you can have rotatating hot plates - one thing at a time.... Plus, people can bring sides like potatoe salad or beans...

How about soups? Chili is quick and easy.

I suggest making a couple soups and having a nice bread to eat with it. A potato cheese soup is extremely inexpensive, most kids love it and adults too.

why don't you do a potluck, have everyone bring their favorite dish, that way you have a great variety and your not breaking the bank... I have two girls and we do this for their birthdays all the time and it's always been a hit... that way the burden doesn't fall all on your shoulders, sounds like you have enough on your plate, well good luck....

Hi L.: I've served Tacos for birthday parties and it works out great. Hard and soft shell and make a line on the counter/lazy susan with all the fixins'. Good luck. D.

BBQ Pork Sandwiches. They are very simple to make and really not very expensive. You can get a few cheap pork shoulder roasts and cook them in the crock pot and then just put them in the fridge until you need to use them then just warm them up, shred them with a fork, put it back in the crock pot and pour BBQ sauce over it and just keep it warm in the crock pot. Then you can go to the bread outlet and get buns or Rotellas and get buns very cheap. It really is easy. Just start looking in the ads for sales on roasts.

Or just go to Bag-n-Save and get fried chicken. They have the best.

I have the same problem. My husband and I have a large family and we try to come up with things that are different, but very interesting at the same time. We did a potato bar.
Had different things to put on your potato from butter to chili. Everyone just loved the idea. Anything can go on a potato just let your imagination run wild. Just think of hungry hobo they have everything for a potato.

What about having everyone bring a dish and make like a BBQ make sure that everyone brings something for every part of the meal and then you only have to worry about the dessert.

What about chili? I've served it for a family get together and also another large gathering. It holds people over well. I also served a simple punch and a sandwich bar (they do their own). It went over well both times and I had less than a cup of leftovers both times!

Good Luck!

What about a Taco Bar? or Sloppy Joe's or making some pans of lasagna and getting french bread? Pizza's from Papa Murphey's is a good route too.

GOOD LUCK!

I've done tacos before. It's pretty cheap and best of all, not a whole lot of prep time. Hope that helps!

Forty is definitely a lot of people to try and fix a fast, econonimcal lunch for and when I started my advice I was not thinking about the number, but easy, so I was thinking ham, scalloped potatoes, vegetable, salad and rolls. Not hard at all, but I'm not sure it would be too economical.

After considering the size of your group my suggestion would be a pasta. Spaghetti or Lasagna with a salad and bread would be fast and economical. Maybe have a relish tray, crackers and cheese, if you would like something extra.

Good luck!

I have gatherings often and decided the best time to have them is in the middle of ths afternoon like 2 P.M......then people have already had lunch and appetizers are perfect like chips/crackers and dips, veggie tray, cocktail weenies, and then desert like cake. A few different beverages helps too. Barely costs anything as often times you already have some chips/crackers in the house along with other ramdom stuff you can throw out. Hope that helps! S.

You can order pizza from Casey's try and find some friends that have the free coupons that come on the front of the large boxes. Maybe you can get enough of those to eat for free or even have a few for free.

What about a soup lunch, with say 3 different choices, a variety of breads and fruits and crudite?? We did this for my mom's 60th birthday party and the food was plentiful, people were pleased and it went very well. Good luck!

I have alot of family also, so I can understand where you are coming from. If there are going to be alot of people like that, there is no real reason why you have to go out on a limb. It is perfectly fine if you have just simple ice cream and cake. Or if you do want a little something else, you could also have simple snack trays also. I always have veggie trays out since its better for the kids ( and grown ups) to eat. Also it doesn't hurt to have chips and dip or gardettos. They always go well. If you do want to cook up a little something, then maybe a pasta salad or something similar would work.

Hot dogs and mac & cheese is a good choice. It's cheap, also. This is a great idea if you have a lot of kids coming. You can through baked beans and chips in there. Cucumbers and carrots seem to go fast.

HI~

Planning for 40 people at a birthday party and planning a wedding sounds expensive. I would suggest, if its not too late to have the party after lunch time (1-3, 2-4) so that you can just serve appiztiers. That is what I do, even if its a small party because there are presents to buy, cake, gift bags and party supplies. That alone can go over $100-$150. Here are a few ideas you can serve: salsa with chips, nuts, celery with peanut butter, bunny crackers, goat cheese with crackers, BBQ meatballs or links, and so on. Just pick a few and remember there will be ice cream and cake afterwards. Or if you really prefer to do a lunch, I would suggest a pasta type of lunch.

BBQ's or Taco in a bag! Good Luck!

How about a taco buffet with all the fixings? Hard shell, soft shell, stuff to make burritos, salsa, sour cream, refried beans, rice, etc....then you can make a couple kinds of salads, have a few bags of chips, a veggie tray, and you're done!

We have done marinated chicken breasts and grilled them. You can then keep them warm in the oven. Serve some salads (pasta, veggie, etc) and beverages.

Since the majority of your family will be adults I suggest tacos. You just put the ingreds in their own bowls and let the people make their own. It is very econmical. Have some mini buns , bought from a day old bakery , for those who just prefer a sandwich with the taco mixture. The taco shells are not expensive and would not take alot of work to get this meal ready. Have a couple of dishes of jello ready, plus your cake and ice cream and you have a great meal.

Hi,
I'm also from a larger family. You may not want to do sandwiches, but, they are the most time effiecent and economical. Try Hot Beef. You can make it days ahead, it freezes well, and you can warm it up in a crock pot. I have a very easy, recipe for this. Another suggestion, jello salads or a large lettuce salad. Again, not expensive and quick fixes. For a hot side, cheesy hash browns or baked beans.
S. Stone

We have had hot ham and cheese sandwiches....you put sliced ham in a crock pot with water and maybe some pineapple slices and then have a crock pot with melted cheese in it..they are always a favorite!! We just did a hotdog/bratwurst bar with a ton of fix'ins....and everyone loved it and it was cheap as well....good luck!!

I myself like to do sloppy joes for a crowd that size, I realize it's another sandwich, but a "hot" sandwich. It's something that you can keep in a crock pot and easy to do ahead of time. We do them quite often for b-days!

Hi L.
What about soup or chili? You can feed an army for a little price!!!
Just a thought
Good Luck
K.

I don't know what your family likes, but at family reunions, we sometimes have chile or a type of soup.

Pizza, pizza, pizza and a big salad. Gather up coupons and look for specials.

make some chicken quesadillas, they are fast ease and cheap,

When we have mixed ages - we always do hamb & hotdogs - we cook them on the grill the morning of the party and keep them in a nesco. With our 40 + parties I do sloppy joes -- then we ask for Immediate family - our siblings/parents to add a fruit/pasta dish.
I go get a huge batch of Hic stuff to make the drinks.

It doesn't have to be big -- infact if you have the party at an "inbetween lunch/dinner" and just have snacks.

boil up two different kinds of pasta, and have a red sauce and a white sauce. Make some garlic bread, tossed salad and dessert and you're all set!

You can also have cut up toppings for people to add...pre-cooked, cubed chicked, cooked meatballs, avacados, peppers, cheeses, anything for a little italitan buffet.

Hi my name is C.
Sloppy Joes are a WINNER everytime with chips (not expensive )

Hi L.-

My name is M.. We just had my daughters first birthday party in December and I made BBQ for dinner with some cheesy hashbrown potatoes, baked beans, and potato chips. I also made a noodle salad just in case someone didn't like potatoes. I hope this helps, M.

Sloppy Joes are usually a pretty economical way to go. . .

Lasagna,Spaghetti,TacoBar,Subs,Pizza

Sloppy joes! :) I did that one year for a party and it was a huge hit. All you need is a crock pot or two. OR.. have the birthday party at a time when you don't need to serve a meal. Say 2:30 in the afternoon. People won't expect a lunch at that time of day. Especially with 40 people, I would go that route.

L.,
I'm in the same boat - my dauther will be 2 on Saturday. We'll probably only have about 25 at our party, but the same group of family was just at another 2-year-old party last week where they served sloppy joes and potato salad. I of course, want to do something "different". We've decided we are going to do chicken in the slow-cooker. I found a recipe that seems interesting... using thawed, frozen lemonade concentrate, and brown sugar - kind of a sweet and sour taste I imagine. Anyway, we are going to use chicken thighs I think, because of the smaller size than breasts. I'm going to make a cheesy potato dish and I think a fruit salad.

Hope this gives you some ideas.

J.

I did a taco bar with plain old seasoned hamburger meat in a crock pot, then put out all the fixings and shells. Worked well.

Build-your-own tacos: meat in crock pot, hard shells and soft shells, cheese, toppings. You can make spanish rice from the box to go with it. Chips and salsa.

We did BBQs/Sloppy Joes for my son's birthday last year. Then we had chips, a fruit salad, veggies, cheese and crackers. It didn't cost me much at all and it can feed a lot.

I would make sloppy joes(old fashion family recipe that doesn't use Manwich)and assorted veggies or just ask the closest ones to bring a dish to pass. It should not be at your expense to provide for all of this. Years ago it was more feasible to provide, but everything costs a lot more. So in our family we ask everyone to bring something to pass. It ends up being a lot more festive and that way every one ends up taking part in the celebration.

For my daughters last b-day we did a taco bar. It is easy and affordable. I cooked the hamburger the day before and put it in a crockpot in the morning. We had both hard and soft shells. I also did a side of spanish rice and nachos for the kids. The best part is most of it can be made ahead of time! I can give you a great recipe for the rice if you want it.

I would go with either hot dogs or tacos. Then you can lay out a variety of toppings that poeple can put on.

My husband's family always does potlucks for big get togethers. You get a variety of food and you only have to pay for one dish.

What about Soup? Chili or something and a loaf of bread is easy.

Try a potato bar, bake some potatoes, provide different "toppings" for them to add to their plate. You can have chili, cheese, onions, broccoli, etc. They will be filled up and have fun in the process!

Another thing you can do is Tacos...have all the fixin's cut up...ready to go.

Hotdishes are always nice too, try spaghetti.

Taco bar or "walking tacos" (individuals make them in a nachos bag).

I guess I should have read the other answers before I wrote you, as I'm sure someone has already suggested this, but we have a big family as well, usually ends up being around 40 people for immediate family (fun, but a lot of work!) I usually do some sort of pasta, spaghetti, pesto pasta, etc, very cheap, when I do spaghetti I will make 2 batches, one with meat and one with lots of veggies and just go get those disposable pans you can get at the grocery store so you don't have to worry about clean up. You can buy 3 or 4 loaves of french bread and cut it up and a couple bags of salad, you're good to go! It usually ends up being about $40-$50 for the whole thing, which is really nice. It's even cheaper if you do pesto pasta because you can buy the pesto in a jar and you don't have to worry about meat. Hope that helps!

L., we have the same situation in our family...what we do is the hosting family provides the meat for the meal and the rest of the family brings potluck. Each member always has a special dish they like to make and share. It helps finacially, we get a nice variety of food and enjoy the company of our family for the special occasion. Hope this helps. R.

I have done spaghetti for this kind of event. You can cook the hamburger ahead of time and then just reheat on stove top or crock pot with the sauce and a big pot of noodles only takes 20 minutes to get ready. You don't have to make garlic bread just buy french bread loaves and set out with a thing of spreadable margarine for people to fix it them selves if they want bread. Kids and adults love spaghetti! Congrats on the big wedding day coming up too!

Pasta! Either Spaghetti or Lasagna with a green salad and garlic bread. I have done this several times for my daughters parties. You can also serve with it a bowl of grapes and/or cut up oranges. Fast/easy and shouldn't break the bank. Good luck with whatever you prepare. Remember, they really won't be focussed on the food, just the fun. Keep it as simple for yourself as possible.

L.,

Have you ever thought about a potluck? Everyone brings something and you can enjoy other people's dishes.

L. :)

I LOVE crockpot ideas for gatherings because they're almost serving free for the hostess. Soup or Chili is good and makes alot. A little more money and you could do pulled pork or roast beef sandwiches too, with or without BBQ, or server BBQ on the side. I'd do a a crockpot of hotdogs too for people who choose that, especially for the little ones at the party. Then, I'd go with chips, veggies, etc, breadsticks if you do soup/chili, etc. This way, people can help themselves when they're ready to eat...like grazing. :)

The first thing that comes to my mind is Sloppy Joes or as some people refer to them as BBQ Sandwiches. Maybe served with Potato Chips, Coleslaw etc.
Good Luck!!

i also have a husband with a larg family we do sloppy joes and i ask people with they dont mind if they would bring a small side to pass and most of them dont mind

Pans of lasagna is quick and easy. Serve with a salad and good crusty bread.

I am having a family birthday party for one of my boys this weekend and am having a taco bar. I have 3 step-sons and 3 boys of my own, so we have a lot of birthday parties around here. I too run out of ideas for meals. The taco bar is one that I have done in the past and everyone enjoyed. I make a crockpot full of taco meat, put soft shells in the micro and set out a bunch of little dishes with toppings. Have a great party!

Sloppy Joes - ground chuck is on sale at cub in 5lb rolls this week. Make it ahead of time and put in crock pot. (Or you can have a big taco party too.) Then Country Hearth bread outlet is Hwy 55 in Plymouth. Saturday is 10 percent off - the buns are like a $1 a pack or less. Go to an Aldi's or Sam's for fruit. Aldi's has strawberries $2 a pack this week. Good buys usually on fruit. Sam's cake is relatively inexpensive and good too. I always just serve mini carrots and dip, no one else eats the other veggies enough. Hope this helps - P. F

You could do a taco bar. Just prepare the meet and keep it warm in a slow cooker and then line up all the fixings and everyone can just walk through! Simple, easy and very inexpensive!

How about a pasta bar? You could do two or three different sauces and a couple different kinds of pasta and a salad and bread.

How about bar-b-q's.........sloppy joes? It can be made in advance, then kept in a slow cooker for the party. Adding other "finger foods" as well as chips and dip...birthday cake, and it is a party!! The left over can be frozen for a later date? Depending on the head count of the "adults" decides what the bulk of the finger food can be. Deviled eggs, FINGER jello, raw veggies, crackers/cheese? After doing birthday parties for years, I realized the more simple the food, things that can "be done" the day before, makes it a party for "Mom" as well

I LOVE Patty's idea! And this is the perfect time of the year for chili!

Another thought - what if you did a Taco Bar?

Build your own tacos! Have all the fixins ready to go with chips and salsa. Maybe even do a Mexican themed party - pinata and all!

If you really don't have the room to set up everything - I'd grab coupons and head to Papa Murphy's for some inexpensive pizzas that you make yourself.

Have a great time and good luck!

D. in milwaukee

We also get together with the whole family for birthdays and what we do is have each person/family who is coming bring something. Doesn't really matter what they bring. With that many people you usually get a big variety of things anyway. Or we have done all snacks and appetizers. People tend to prefer that anyway so they can choose what they want. Veggie pizzas, chips and dip, cheese and sausage, brownies etc.........

Hot Dogs and Chili. People could have a hot dog, chili dog, or just chili. It's easy to cook ahead and can be put in crock pots. We have done in 2 years in a row and it went over well! Kids love the hot dogs and the adults love the chili. Good combo!
Good luck!

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