Cooking for LARGE Groups

Updated on June 02, 2010
M.M. asks from Wheaton, IL
17 answers

My sister has asked me to assist her with cooking for a homeless shelter. She would like me to make some sort of salad/side dish for 80 people. I like to cook but have never cooked for this many at once. Can you offer up some tasty yet economical suggestions/recipes that compliment pulled pork sandwiches and baked ham?

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So What Happened?

Thank you to everyone for your suggestions. It turned out that my sister didn't need any additional side dishes and asked me to bring 3 - 5 quart containers of ice cream instead. What a relief!

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answers from Dallas on They have great recipes, but the beauty part is, you can change the number of servings and it recalulates everything for you. With that menu - you have got to make cole slaw! It's a tradition with pulled pork sandwhiches. Plus it's very cheap and perfect for summer. I'll copy in basic version that I calculated for 80.

Jayme's Cole Slaw
Submitted By: Jayme
Photo By: Shalaine_1
Prep Time: 15 Minutes Ready In: 15 Minutes
Servings: 80

"Shredded cabbage is tossed in a tangy dressing in this quick five-ingredient coleslaw."
5 cups brown sugar
5 cups apple cider vinegar
5 cups mayonnaise 3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon celery
40 cups chopped cabbage

You have scaled this recipe's ingredients to yield a new amount (80). The directions below still refer to the original recipe yield (8).
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, mayonnaise, and celery seed. Add cabbage and toss to coat.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Baked Mac and Cheese would be good with both of those too! If you get the cheese on sale you could do a lot of it for pretty cheap.

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answers from Seattle on

- Caesar Salad or Spinach Salad
- Au Gratin Potatoes (I always make my own to save $- just sliced potatoes, milk, cheese, onion, salt & pepper and bake... but you can also just get the giant box at costco.)

It's also worth it to buy the giant tinfoil containers. I find Turkey tinfoil roasters hold the most. For 80 people you'd need between 2-4 of them.

When I was homeless years and years ago, I would have STRONGLY preferred greens over carbs. Getting fresh greens you could actually feel the nutrients leeching into your body, and they're hard to get/ very expensive when you're on the street. Even the worthless iceberg in a whopper seemed like great nutrition at the time. And iceberg really is the fake cheeze of the veggie world.

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answers from Dallas on

Baked beans are pretty cheap and easy to cook in the disposable baking dishes.

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answers from Anchorage on

Potato salad. All you need is potatoes, eggs, onion, mayo and mustard. It is filling, tastes good, and cheap to make.

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answers from Dayton on

You could do cheesy potato casserole. That will be cheap and easy.

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answers from Dallas on

mmm, yeah, baked beans sound good with that!!!

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi there! One thing I love to make is a green salad with tomatoes, but then add shredded cheese, sliced olives and pinto beans and toss it with ranch or a catalina/ranch mixture. At the end, right before serving, add Fritos on top. It's a little like a taco salad, but without meat. Yummy! Good luck!

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answers from Austin on

You can easily multiply this recipe.. Remember nothing with mayonnaise, should be made or served out of a metal container, so get a big plastic bucket container to chill this in.

Macaroni Salad
• 2 cups dry elbow macaroni, cooked, rinsed, and drained
• 1/3 cup diced celery
• 1/4 cup minced red onion
• 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
• 1/2 cup diced vine-ripened tomato (optional)
• 1/2 cup prepared mayonnaise
• 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard (or 1 tsp. yellow mustard)
• 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
• 3 tablespoons sour cream
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt , plus more to taste
• ¼ tsp celery salt (optional)
• Freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl combine the macaroni, celery, onion, parsley and tomato, if using. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sour cream and salt. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve. Store covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.

If cucumbers are on sale, I add cucumber too.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Mashed potatoes..mmmmmmmm. BTW what a good thing you are doing!

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answers from Chicago on

I second baked beans!

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answers from Jacksonville on

Cole Slaw - Grab a couple bags in the store premade or cut the cabbage and carrots yourself, and mix it with the slaw mix.

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answers from Sacramento on

Orzo. I would do several batches and then toss them together.

1 box orzo, cooked per directions. Add salt to the water if desired. Once done, drain. Add a little olive oil and some garlic and stir in.

In another bowl, slice up some cucumbers. Sprinkle with dried dill and mint. salt and pepper if desired. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar and redwine vinegar to taste.

Plump some golden raisens (put in small amount of warm water and gently simmer until plump. Reserve the water...there should just be a tiny bit left anyway.

Add all the componants together and mix. Add some feta or parmasan as a final touch. You can get feta at Costco for an amazing price.


Cook orzo as directed. Drain. Add butter, shredded cheese, a bit of milk and a dolup of sour cream. Stir adding milk until creamy. add garlic if desired. Makes sort of a cheesy pilaf kind of thing.

Both of these are quick, easy, and should be relatively inexpensive.

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answers from Cincinnati on

if you go to you can adjust the servings counter so it will let you know how much you need of each ingredient
some thoughts:
* mashed potatoes (e.g. simple with potato, butter, milk (I use fat free half and half for extra cream potatoes OR
* baked beans
* Three Cheese Garlic Scalloped Potatoes (
* roasted veggies
* Green Bean Casserole (e.g.

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answers from New York on

I think some type of potatoe dish would be good. You could just make a potato salad, or scalloped potatoes.

Coleslaw would work well, but that seems like a lot of work.



answers from Washington DC on

Easy - cook up a bunch of bite sized pasta, let it cool, mix some mayo, dill, frozen peas, onion salt, pepper, and chopped red peppers (optional).

You can also do the same thing but use olive oil instead of mayo so it won't spoil. I sometimes add shredded cheddar cheese with this but if you are going on the less costly side, it's goo without it.



answers from Tulsa on

Go to Taste of Home cookbooks and look for the section called "Cooking for a Crowd", these recipes are usually for 45-100+ people. Most of the dinners I cook at Church Activities are for over 100 and I always use their recipes. My absolute favorite ham recipe is from their. It has Apricot Preserves mixed with Dry Mustard coating it then brown sugar pressed on top of that goo, then add cloves poked into the ham, cover with foil then baked for a few hours on a very low oven. It tastes so NOT normal. It has a unique flavor that just is yummy to me.

I always trust Taste of Home.

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