Here in Florida, the weather is already beautiful and more and more people are planning outdoor gatherings and parties. From Mardi Gras parties to spring barbecues, there are plenty of reasons to get friends and family together and enjoy good food and fun. Sometimes it can be hard to cook for a crowd and make sure that you have plenty of food without any of it going to waste. The following tips and recipes from Kraft Foods can help you plan your spring and summer gatherings in an easy and cost effective way.
Plan, Plan, Plan
As soon as you have a rough number of guests in mind, start planning your menu:
- Will you make enough of one entrée to serve everyone? Or will you provide several options? Be sure to take into account any vegetarians or special dietary needs on your guest list.
- Use the Kraft Foods easy charts to figure out how much food and drink you need:
- Choose recipes like the Cheese & Ale Soup that double easily. Check recipe notes for special instructions. You might not need to double seasonings, for instance. Cooking times won’t necessarily double, either. If you don’t have oversize pots and pans, you might be better off cooking or baking in batches.
- If you do cook in larger batches, play it safe and use an instant-read thermometer to check food’s internal temperature.
Many dishes can be prepped or made completely ahead of time, then refrigerated or frozen. This Salmon Cake Minis with Lemon-Dill Aioli recipe, for instance, can be assembled and shaped up to 4 hours before baking. Here are more make-ahead tips:
- Freeze individual pieces of chicken, steak or pork in plastic bags. They’ll thaw more quickly.
- Freeze meat and marinade in a resealable plastic bag. While meat thaws in the fridge, it can self-marinate.
- Cook pasta or rice and freeze for later. Thaw quickly under hot water.
- Cut up celery and carrot sticks and store them in the fridge in a container of water for up to three days.
- Ask a friend to arrive early and greet guests as you attend to final details in the kitchen.
- Set up a buffet so you won’t have to plate anything. Guests can help themselves.
- Ask another friend or two to stay late and help with cleanup. Put on some upbeat music, and send your helpers home with leftovers as their reward.
What are your favorite recipes and tips that you use when you cook for a crowd? Feel free to share them in the comments below!