How Do I Cook for 70 People When I Can Barely Cook for 4?!

Updated on May 27, 2009
M.C. asks from Joliet, IL
6 answers

Okay - so I always do chicken and beef for my parties and I'm so tired of doing the same thing all the time. We'll do the chicken because everyone loves it but I wanted to do something different. I was thinking of doing trays of baked mostaccoli or something but how do I know how much to make and does anyone have any good recipes? I'm not set on baked mostaccoli so if you have any other ideas, it would be appreciated. I've gotten some amazing recipes from my fellow Mamasource Mommies so I thought I'd reach out to you again!

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answers from Chicago on

Seventy?! Wow, that's a lot. But I like your challenge - I love trying to come up with ideas that are easy and inexpensive.

- choose a non-meal time and serve appetizers (i.e., 2:00 in the afternoon, 8:00 p.m.)

- if you do a meal, pay close attention to timing and oven/stovetop space. Don't pick things where everything has to be in the oven at once. Con't pick things that have to be assembled at the last minute. Potluck or cater part of it to save time.

- Tacos. This is one of our classic big-group meals on the cheap, and kids all love it. Make a giant spanish rice (or buy in a big tray from a mexican restaurant) buy tortillas at a mexican market, cook up a bunch of refried beans, and cook fajita mix that you can also buy at the grocery store or mexican market butcher counter. Put everything out with condiments and sour cream so people can make their own tacos, also canned corn, nacho chips, guacamole. We get homemade tamales from the local market, steam them in our rice cooker, and then cut into small pieces (about 1.5") with frilly toothpicks as appetizers.

- There is also a fabulous taco dish I had at a party. I don't know the exact recipe, but it was ground beef and onions, potatoes and carrots cubed, slow-cooked with chipotle canned in adobo and water. Awesomely yummy - maybe someone else here has a recipe?

- Ham is easy. Buy bakery bread and make coleslaw. I make my own dressing because coleslaw dressing's so pricey. 2 parts helmanns mayo, 1 part sour cream, season with light-colored vinegar (cider or rice is good), sugar, salt, pepper, dried or fresh tarragon, fresh chives, a bit of chili powder.

- If you do the mostaccioli idea, I make yummy and easy, "cheesy bake." Start with cooked pasta. Add jarred sauce and some (not too much) grated mozzarella and cheddar (or an "italian blend") and parmesan. Pour it in your baking pan and then plop in a few teaspoons of cream cheese here and there in the pan - not too much - about 1/3 or 1/2 of a cream cheese rectangle for a whole 9 x 13 pan. Top off with a very minimal layer of mozzarella to look pretty (not too much or it gets too cheesy.)

- Another idea for a one-dish meal is Jambalaya. You can make ahead of time and heat in a crock pot. If you make it mild, kids love it and you can put whatever meat in it you want (we never use seafood, just chicken and kielbasa, and we also make it vegetarian.) It's inexpensive because it's mostly rice and tomatoes with meat accents.

Have fun! Be sure to post an update with whatever you decided to make.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I have found it useful to google 'recipes for cooking for a crowd'.



answers from Chicago on

If you do decide to cook, is a wonderful website with reviews and tips for every recipe out there. I always turn to that website for ideas and recipes. One thing I typically make is hot chicken salad. It's easy to prepare ahead of time and bake the day of the party. You can also do a honey baked ham. Boston Market does catering for a little bit cheaper than most. Also, I love Portillo's for catering at a reasonable price. The taco bar someone else mentioned is very popular from what I have heard from other mom's as well. Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

Well I've read your other really good responses, then come back to your original question:
How do I cook for 70 when I can barely cook for 4?!?

I'm a mom of two young kids and my husband is a chef, so I watch what he prepares when we have our rare parties. He almost always makes trays and just makes simple things that taste good. He loves antipasti platters with roaster red and yellow peppers, artichoke heart, good Italian soft cheese, and then makes crostinis (slice baguettes and toast slightly in the oven. Everyone loves this stuff. He also makes cheese platters and just picks really good cheese. He just puts it on pretty lettuces and places a bunch of grapes next to a wedge of brie. We love to make hummus or guacamole. If you really want to serve meat, little meatballs are good or a great sub sandwich and cut into 2" cuts. Just ask yourself if you really want to make a main course and why are you putting yourself through so much work for a mingle party. Choose one mixed drink (unless you don't drink at all), get the blender going, and have Pina coladas or Mojitas. This should be one person's sole job. Buy a great cheesecake and slice it or make your own boxed brownies but melt good quality chocolate and ice them.

Unless this is a major event and everyone is sitting down, feeding people a main course is usually not necessary. Oh, one last suggestion: COSCO has great stuff in quantity. If you don't have or want a membership, find someone who does and tag along.



answers from Chicago on

My suggestion - if you have the means to do it - CATER! Why stress yourself out. 70 people is a lot.



answers from Chicago on

M., go online- search Food quantities for parties. This will give you an idea of how much food to prepare. I am one who do not like cooking, even though I am very good at it. I personally would buy mostaccoli already prepared. call you local Deli. Just as cheap as preparing yourself. You might want to have swedish meatballs. GF Food sell a good tasting meat ball (already prepared) just add sauce.Put the meat balls in a slow cooker, add sauce. Go to or any other site, check out the great receipies for sauces. You can even check out party menus.
Congratulation! to you for staying home with your children.
Do you have a Tupperware website?
Good luck

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