Feeding a Large Crowd Cheaply

Planning an inexpensive meal for a crowd can seem daunting, but it is doable. This is a guide about feeding a large crowd cheaply.
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November 20, 2013 Flag

A friend of mine had heard we are having our family dinner for Thanksgiving at my house. She made the comment that she could never afford to feed so many people, although she has the space. I told her it was easy on the budget, if you plan ahead.

As soon as you decide to host an event, start putting your plan into action. If money is a real big issue, then instead of volunteering for a holiday where you are to provide a turkey or ham, (such as Thanksgiving or Christmas), pick something else, such as July 4 (hotdogs).

Buy a little each week. Pay attention to your store sales and coupons and work it to your advantage. For example, a month ago, our local grocery store had green beans on sale for 19 cents a can. I had some coupons and got a few for free. The limit was 6 cans per purchase. I usually make a green bean casserole, so I bought 6 cans, husband got 6, and each of the kids got 6. Total, 36 cans; more than enough for green bean casserole. I did the same thing a week later when they had frozen rolls on sale. I got 6 packages for the freezer. I bake our bread from scratch each week, so the week of the dinner, I will also make a few extra loaves.

My husband gets a free ham each year from work, and I have been saving up my reward points from the grocery store to purchase a turkey. Tea is inexpensive, so I also got a new box of tea, knowing I would probably be out by Thanksgiving. So, I already have the meat, drink, bread and two side dishes covered.

I am also providing the potatoes, so this week I picked up 2 large cans of yams (the huge gallon cans) that were on sale for $3.99 a can and a bag of marshmallows for the candied topping. The week of Thanksgiving I will pick up a bag of potatoes for mashed potatoes. I still had pie filling on hand in the pantry, so my pies are already made and in the freezer.

I asked each family attending to bring a covered side dish or a desert. Most of the women in our family have one dish they are "famous" for making, and they love to share. The day before, I will make up some tea and freeze it. That will be used in my drink cooler instead of ice cubes, so as it melts it won't water down everyones drink. I only offer tea and water, so that will cut down on expense.

I also stocked up, with coupons and sales, on TP and Kleenex. Always want to have plenty on hand when you have a crowd. After adding it up, my total will come out to under $75, to feed around 60 people. Not bad at all.

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November 11, 20140 found this helpful

I loved your good ideas and I have one for you. If you have some room in your yard start some sweet potatoes next summer and have plenty for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. They will grow in just about anything. Their vines are beautiful and the leaves are also edible. Save some of the smaller ones to start next year and the cost will be next to nothing. You can't beat the taste of a sweet potato grown in your own backyard.

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April 30, 2016 Flag
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We have a special occasion, my husband is turning 65. Since I am now disabled and no one in the family has volunteered to help (but are coming) and everyone wants it to be a surprise, of course, what do I feed these family members and still make the birthday special on a low-cost budget? My husband does not eat beans!

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November 17, 20160 found this helpful
Best Answer

I would go with 10 big bags of chips and dip stretched by adding extra sour cream or more diced tomatoes, bag of ice and homemade ice tea, coffee and bottled water... along with a very well decorated cake if you or others have time for anything more by all means tell them thank you :P

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May 2, 20160 found this helpful

Let the extended family know you will be taking your h/h out to *** restaurant and advise them if they would like to join in that it is up to them to make their own reservations and pay their share of the bill. On a side note, if everyone would pitch in an extra dollar or two then his birthday dinner would be taken care of. Everyone can always meet at home for coffee and dessert afterwards.

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November 17, 20160 found this helpful

plan this for mid day b4 dinner this way who knows they might come up with donations to splurge for pizzas or everyone goes home b4 dinner :P

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September 21, 2016 Flag
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I need a recipe for a crock pot or baked dish for breakfast. It needs to be not too hard and enough for 40 people. Thank you.

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October 10, 20160 found this helpful

Pulled pork. Large joint of pork shoulder, slow cooked in a marinade of your choice (plenty of ideas around) pull the meat and return it to the crock pot a few hours before you are ready to serve and let everyone help themselves, serve with bread rolls, pitta breads or wraps with lots of salad. Cheap and it's a crowd pleaser.

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September 1, 2016 Flag
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How many loaves of French bread do I need to feed 150 people?

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September 2, 20160 found this helpful

An average sized loaf of French bread has about 10 servings or slices. You can decide how many slices you would serve per person, such as 2, calculate the total loaves needed for 150 servings: 2 slices per person = 5 servings per loaf, 150 divided by 5 = 30 loaves.

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August 30, 2004 Flag
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I am on a mission here in Iraq. My job is to take care of service members in a very remote area. I can't give you my exact location, but what I am trying to do is bring this area into the 21st century and bring the Iraqi kitchen I deal with up to date on some basic American foods.

We don't have the modern convenience of a corner grocery store in this area and some ingredients are not available unless we travel to Baghdad, which is a very dangerous area right now.



I am trying to introduce a larger variety of American foods to the menu and find that if I can get scratch recipes to feed 150 people three times a day this would help boost the moral of my troops and add a touch of home.

I am looking for recipes that can be made fresh and in bulk. I have cooked for groups of about 20 for special family occasions, but used my recipes and just cooked all day. We use gas stoves here and also deal in the metric system for measuring, any help you can give in the measuring department would be appreciated.

What I am asking for is some simple breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with some simple cake and dessert recipes and different sauces (canned tomato sauces are not available). We only have the one cook and he does what he can with what he has, but we get the same menu everyday and I have to find more variety that would be usable in this environment.

Some of the basic things we can get and have on hand are, plain flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, eggs, curry, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, beef, lamb, and chicken. Anything your collective minds can come up with would be deeply appreciated. I guess I should also tell you that everything is served buffet style. I hope all this makes sense to you and look forward to your response.

Thank You,

Renee
Site Manager, Iraq

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Anonymous Flag
January 30, 20160 found this helpful

Here are some ideas that immediately come to mind, hope this helps...

Curry over biscuits with cucumber and tomato salad (hoping you can find some sugar and vinegar for salad dressing). Curry would probably be a la king style using chicken or beef, onions, and tomatoes.

Egg, tomato and onion quiche with flour based pie crust.

Brown up onions and make up a gravy using flour to pour over roasted beef and tomatoes.

Make a curry flavored stuffing with onions and bread made using flour. serve with roasted chicken.

Scrambled eggs with sliced tomatoes and bread made using flour and water.

Bread pudding with raisins (if you can find them) is tasty for b'fast.

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Anonymous Flag
April 13, 20160 found this helpful

COOK THE CHICKEN WITH A TINY BIT OF CURRY AND SHREAD THE CHICKEN //COOK THE TOMATOES AND ONIONS JUST A LITTLE IN THE SAME PAN//TOSS THE CHICKEN WITH TOMATOES AND AND ONIONS--SEASON WITH SALT AND PEPPER --MAKE SOME CREPS WITH EGGS AND A LITTLE FLOUR--WRAP THE CHICKEN ALONG IN THE CREPS--SERVE SLICED SALTED CUCUMBERS ON THE SIDE

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June 26, 2015 Flag
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I am having a surprise birthday party for my dad at 2-4 in the afternoon about 2 hours from my home. So I need food that is cheap, easy to transport, and won't spoil in the summer. I also don't have a great deal of time to prepare. I know, that's a lot of caveats!

I will get a cake from Costco, nuts, and mints.

What are the easiest ideas for punch, other snack foods? I am thinking I'll use balloons to decorate, but they are hard to transport. Does anyone have other ideas for decorations in a church basement?

Dress is casual.

Thanks so much!

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June 27, 20150 found this helpful

For party decoration ideas-try dollar stores, Walmart type stores, thrift stores (often have large amounts of party stuff!), etc.

You can also try a great online store that has TONS of party and decor stuff. This site also supplies elementary teachers with projects, youth groups, etc. Prices are very cheap and no hassle to drive around and try various stores. Right now the site has free shipping for orders over $59.00:

http://www.orientaltrading.com/

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July 24, 20150 found this helpful

Blow up balloons with just plain air, not helium. Tie with a curly ribbon like you would get if you bought helium balloons. Make a loop of tape or use 2-sided tape and tape these balloons onto the ceiling with ribbons hanging down.. Can do ahead and looks as if you had bought helium balloons!

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June 6, 20160 found this helpful

Hot dogs. Buns typically go on sale for $1.00. Get the hot dogs on sale too, by scanning store ads. Cheap, easy, fun and good.

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September 1, 2013 Flag
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Every week we host about 20 people for a meal. I'm running out of wheat-free ideas. We have done baked potatoes, salad, beans, hot dogs, and burgers. I prepare the main dish and assign others to bring side dishes. Any really cheap ideas on what else to do? I'd like to not use the oven because it heats up the house and we are in the Houston area so it's still around 100 degrees pretty regularly here.

By Barbara L.

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January 8, 20150 found this helpful

Rice Rice Rice!

It's super cheap, and you don't need to worry about any specialty gluten-free items. It's been a staple of our diet ever since my husband had to go gluten free. Rice based meals we've served to company have included curry, stir fry, california roll style sushi, rice casserole, soups and any meat dish can be served with a side of rice.

If you get bored of plain rice, a wild rice blend adds nice variety, though it's a bit pricier, and we're also fond of quinoa cooked in chicken broth (Trader Joe's has the best price for it in our area).

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January 8, 20150 found this helpful

Just noticed the bit about it being hot in Houston. This is my favorite light summer meal. I usually just throw in whatever veggies are on sale instead of what the recipe calls for. They all taste good.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/quinoa-salad-recipe0.html

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Anonymous Flag
August 26, 20160 found this helpful

What about a taco bar? Offer flour tortillas or hard corn taco shells. I believe those are G free. Add all the fixins-cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, hot sauce.

What about a couple of different kinds of soups and chili? You might have to borrow a few crock pots for this one.

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March 3, 2014 Flag
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I am having a wedding in the south for 100 people. I am on a budget and have no caterer. How do I feed 100 people for my wedding?

By Jessica T.

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March 4, 20140 found this helpful

Potluck is what we're planning for my daughter's wedding. We asked a close friend to be in charge of the details so that's one less worry for us.

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March 4, 20140 found this helpful

I agree, ask for help. Make it so that their offerings are their present to you. Plan the menu and have them delegate who is to bring what. Offer no sloppy dishes esp' with a red sauce but other than that, finger food is always welcome. I did the food (as well as everything else) at my sisters revow in 02' and brought the whole wedding in for 300.00. As for the cake and such, you might offer something for the diabetics in the guest list. A simple cheese and cracker platter, veggie or fruit tray. I wish you luck.

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March 29, 20140 found this helpful

We did this last fall for about 150 people. We served fried chicken, bought from a local grocery store deli (150 pieces of chicken was about $125). We also bought potato wedges from the same store for 25 cents each. We bought 2 per person ($75) and had LOTS left over. We also had ham slices - I don't remember what they are called but the are like small loaves about 6 inches long which gave us about 25 1/4 inch slices from each ham. They were on sale for $7.50 each and had the store slice them for us. We bought 6 hams for about $50, and warmed them in a large roaster with some brown sugar.

We also bought the large cans of green beans at Walmart and cooked them in a large roaster with a pound of bacon. We made up some large veggie trays with ranch dressing and some cheese and crackers. We also bought some loaves of French bread at a local bakery and had them sliced.

We spent a total of about $500. The best thing we did was have a co-worker who volunteered to watch the food during the wedding and had a couple of family members who stopped at the stores between the wedding and the reception to pick up the chicken and potatoes. It seems like a big job, but we found it was kind of fun and a lot cheaper than local caterers that wanted from $12 - $15 per person ($2,000 or so!)

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May 16, 2013 Flag
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I am planning a graduation party for approx. 100 guests. What is the easiest and most inexpensive way to prepare the pulled chicken?

By Mindi

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May 16, 20130 found this helpful

Google for the information that you need.

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April 26, 2004 Flag
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I am planning a wedding for my sister. I need to feed 100 people on a limited budget. I think we have at least 10 vegetarians. It doesn't need to be incredibly formal. I need at least one meal for meat eaters, a meal for vegetarians, a couple kinds of salad and some snacky food. The cake is taken care of. I want the food to be as tasty as possible but not too expensive. It can really add up fast when you are feeding this many people. For example, if I budget 10 dollars per person I am looking at 1000, which is too much.

Thank you!

Tammy

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May 5, 20080 found this helpful

Can anyone give me a inexpensive idea that will feed at least 75 teens?

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July 5, 20080 found this helpful

Pizza always works!

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September 3, 20080 found this helpful

Make a bbq, there are also really great vegetarian recipes and go along with it. I am planning my supper and the trick is to wing it see what your sisters favorite food is as well as her future husband and go from there.

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August 22, 2013 Flag
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I'm having a large get together in a few months (and by large I mean it could be up to 200 or so people) and I need some help. I'm trying to save money by making the food myself and not hiring a cater. Any ideas? or would it be best if I just found a good cater?

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November 19, 2009 Flag
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I have to feed a group of 15 for a weekend. Does anyone have any recipes for nutritious, inexpensive, easy to prepare meals?

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