Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!
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.
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.
Some recipes are easier to adapt tomcod for large groups than others. This is a guide about easy food ideas for 70 people.
Preparing large quantities of food for a group event presents many challenges. The first is to know how much food to prepare, to avoid waste and hungry guests. This page asks about how much to buy when making chicken on a stick for a large crowd.
Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.
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.
Here is a lunch meal plan from "Big Wedding on a Small Budget" by Diane Warner.
Dolly Roll Sandwitches = .97 per guest (see recipe below)
Fruit Salad = .39 per guest
Potato Salad = .32 per guest
Mixed Bean Salad = .35 per guest
Pickled Beat Salad = .35 per guest
Olives = .12 per guest
Pickles = .15 per guest
Nuts = .30 per guest
Mints = .20 per guest
Coffee, tea and Champagne Punch = 1.25 per guest
Paper Products = .73 per guest
The total comes to 5.13 per person or just over 500.00 for 100 people.
Dolly Roll Recipe
This recipe will server 100 people.
1 twenty pound turkey
1 gallon jar of mayonnaise
5 pounds Chopped Celery
Salt and pepper to taste
Dolly Rolls (baseball sized rolls)
Bake turkey unstuffed until done. Strip both light and dark meat off the bird and put it through a meat grinder. Mayo and celery can be added a day or two before the ceremony and stored in tight containers. You can serve these on the day of the wedding. Just cut rolls and use a small ice cream scoop to fill the little sandwitches. Its best to assemble to order and keep the turkey mix cold until they are ready to be eaten.
Notes: Most ingredients can be purchased in quantity at a warehouse store. Check your local baker for Dolly Rolls. They may be available at a warehouse store as well.
You can also find a breakfast and lunch plan in Diane's book.
If a hot meal is required, I'd do pasta-primavera with only vegies for those so inclined, and add chicken or turkey for the carnivores. A simple salad with prewashed, bagged mixed greens, and a few season vegies, rolls or bread.
We did my daughters wedding of 250 people with the feature dish being chicken marsala. It is elegant, inexpensve, and surprisingly easy to prepare...it was a big hit! Other friends and church group members brought pre-planned pot dishes so there were plenty of veggies to go around. Friends enjoy helping and consider their small investment as part of their wedding gift to the newlyweds!
I did my sons wedding for under $400.00 total food cost. (75 guests) I did two large turkeys sliced and plated, gravy, stuffing (baked seperately) cranberry compote, tossed green salad, cut veggies and dip, chips and salsa, green bean casserole, Sliced hero bread and cold cuts, crackers, sliced cheeses, pickles, olives, potato salad, cole slaw, punch, Sangria (with fruit slices) and a champaigne toast.
the only things that had to be served warm were the gravy and stuffing (Chaffing dishes)
my vegan guests had plenty to choose from. There are some wonderful sites that can help you with how much you need.
Your grocery deli counter can be very helpful. they will assist you in knowing how much total coldcuts and cheeses will be appropriate. Just tell them your buget, and your headcount. Best of luck.
If I can be of help, please Email: Doggypaddler@aol.com
I often use recipes from allrecipes.com. You can choose what types of food you want to cook with (chicken, veggie, ect) and this site allows you to scale the recipes to suit how many people you need to serve. This may be helpful if trying to cook for 100 or more!
HI. I recently got married myself (Feb. 04). While I did not have a large reception, we did have to deal with variety (meat and non-meat eaters).
I suggest, if the reception is going to be at least an hour and a half before lunch, or an hour and a half after, serve a chicken salad ball with wheat crackers, a few veggies trays and a few fruit trays. Ranch dip is great with the veggies, and you can make a wonderful dip for the fruit by mixing cream cheese and powdered sugar to taste. It is a whole lot cheaper to fix these yourself rather than buying premade trays. You can get very nice glass "crystal-look" trays at the dollar store. (IDEA: if you get these $1 glass platters, you can use them as gifts for your reception workers.)
If you need any ideas, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would gladdy email you pictures or anything you need. My mother is a caterer and I have helped her on way too many occassions, so I will be glad to give you ideas, and I promise, if I can do it, anybody can.
I would like to give a luncheon for 35-40 people. I want to plan a build your own salad, baked potatoe, and soup bar. How do I figure out how much to lettuce, for example, to purchase per person?
I catered a wedding for an acquaintence and set my price at $250.00. Here's what I served: 200 Ham Biscuits, 96 mini croissants with Tuna salad and chicken salad,2 LARGE fruit trays with extra refill 2 LARGE Vegetable trays with refill ranch dip,dill dip ,fruit dip and pineapple fruit dip,chocolte fondue and a few added things like mexican dip and tortillas, 2 crockpots of bbq meatballs and lg batch of sausage balls. Enough to fill an 8 foot table twice. Had to comparison shop for best prices and do all my cooking, cutting and make from scratch rather than buy ready made but I stayed within my budget. She was so pleased she paid me an extra $250. MY POINT: Receptions don't HAVE to cost a fortune if you watch your Ps and Qs.
What should I do. I hate being in the spotlight my wedding and reception is going to be 100-200 and I am worried what everyone will think. I know I shouldn't but it's EASIER SAID THAN DONE, you know. I feel like I'm having some sort of nervous breakdown. HELP am I alone? Not to mention all the stress of financial and other worries that go along with planning a wedding.
Ok, my situation is a little odd. My fiance and I are marrying young and we are having a smaller wedding. I really need some help because we are inviting 100 people, and our food budget is only $200.... Please, does anyone have any tips on how to make this possible?
How many pounds of chicken halves, potatoes for potato salad, and pinto beans?
Hi. First of all, congratulations! I have two suggestions: Lasagna - it will go a long way and you can make it with meat or a vegetarian lasagna. The second suggestion is Chicken/Ziti/broccoli. You can find a milliion easy recipes on the internet and it also will go a long way. You can have some friends and family pitch and making the entrees and you'll save a bunch of money!
Can anyone give me a inexpensive idea that will feed at least 75 teens?
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.
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!
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
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.
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?
By Katlin Y
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.
I have to feed a group of 15 for a weekend. Does anyone have any recipes for nutritious, inexpensive, easy to prepare meals?
By susan from WY
Buy several cheap pizzas and add your own garnishments to it. I do this all the time and they're always tasty. Buy mozarella cheese and shred it yourself. Add any of these items: pineapple, mushrooms, olives, pimentos, sweet or hot peppers, lunch meat, pepperoni, onions, and chop, slice, or shred to top and bake. The pizzas are nutritional and filling. Serve chips and drinks and you're sure to please. It costs a lot less to buy these canned/jarred items than if ordering from a restaurant. You could also do the all meat pizzas using lunch meat, pepperoni, cooked ground beef or sausage.
Grilled cheese is also good or how about a crock of chili with peanut butter sandwiches. Sloppy Joes, A ham and cheese melt sandwich or sausage and biscuits or spaghetti with ground beef added to the sauce with crackers.
Wow! This is a tough one! There's almost no way to feed that many people for an entire weekend cheaply that's nutritious and easy too :-o
I would suggest (depending on the meal) fairly plain veggie or pasta salads, soup, have build your own sandwich ingredients on hand, fruit, casseroles, scrambled eggs or simple omelets. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to ask for them to pitch in with bringing dishes to pass that would stay fresh in or out of the fridge for the weekend.
When our group has gatherings, everyone brings a dish to share, as well as any "favorite" drinks they have. Once I brought a whole tray of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, some on white, some on potato bread, and some on wheat. It was a hit with the kids!
You can also offer Make Your Own pizza, taco, or salad. That way you just have to put out the fixings and they not only have fun creating, but it saves labor for you. You could have several crockpots of different soups, chili, or chowder, accompanied with crackers, bread, croutons. We make lots of fried rice, both vegetarian and with meat. Hope this helps!
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!
I am planning a graduation party for approx. 100 guests. What is the easiest and most inexpensive way to prepare the pulled chicken?
I am looking for recipes to feed 40-50 hungry football players before game night. It needs to be cheap and filling!
How many lbs. of cubed meat would I need to feed 70 people?
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.
I am cooking for 100 people and the menu is meatloaf, chicken, hot dogs, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, mac salad, Hawaiian rolls, and cole slaw. How should I divide the meat for this many people? Once I divide the meat, how many ounces per person should I calculate for each type meat?
How many loaves of French bread do I need to feed 150 people?
Weekly we feed 40 to 120 people. We pay for the food ourselves and need some cheep suggestions. We need some new ideas as beans and spaghetti are getting old. We have great salad options, but could use some help with main dishes.
I need to have enough lemonade for roughly 3000 people. How many gallons do I need? Is 120 gallons enough?
Inexpensive recipe ideas for feeding a large crowd (150 or more people) at a dinner party/ how to know how much is needed.
Bonzai from Orem, UT
Here is an incredible recipe site from Kelowna, British Columbia. She had catering tips and large amount recipes.
This is where I go when I need recipes for a crowd.
Help! I have been put in charge of menu planning for an upcoming retreat we will be having at the beach in Oregon in January. The retreat is 3 days long and we will have access to 2 kitchens. I have no idea how to begin planning the food, the equipment, and any other needs that may arise so people can have good healthy food with gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options. This is our first retreat that we will be hosting and we are going to have 40-60 people there. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!
By Wendy from Olympia, WA
There are some good ideas here, I especially like the chicken and rice. My husband's birthday party is this weekend and while I love grilling burgers and dogs it seems I always end up with buns left over. Any other suggestions?
By Janet S
I've been thrown into managing shopping, menus, and volunteers for a non profit group of 150 starving kids that we feed 4 times a day. I need help with recipes for lunch and dinners. These kids burn up to 3000 calories a day, as they work on their show 10 hrs a day.
I do have some menu items, however the person that came up with these recipes just took recipes for 8-12 people and doubled, tripled, etc. This has caused too much food, less than is needed and food waste at times.
Any help would be great. We start an 8 week national tour in 3 weeks.
ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.
I need some new ideas for feeding our church youth group cheaply. Some times it can be up to 30 kids. So far I have done muffins, cookies, cake/brownies, popcorn, and chips. I do veggie trays when my garden comes in. But, I seem to be at a dead end for something frugal and healthy and filling. Some of those boys eat a lot.
April from NW MO
I make what my kids used to call "fake lasagna". It is a beef casserole and feeds a crowd. I take hamburger, onion, and green pepper. Brown them and drain. Boil up a bag of half inch wide egg noodles. Drain. Take 2 or three cans tomato soup. You can add some water if too thick. Mix all components together and layer in a couple of 13x9 pans putting shredded cheese in middle and on top. Bake till bubbly and cheese melted. It is easy, inexpensive, and a huge hit especially with the kids. (04/08/2008)
Texas sheet cake, which is very easy to make or a pound cake, hot dogs, Sloppy Joes, or cold cuts sandwiches, and punch. I would use Kool-aid, the kids would love it, and it is cheap to make. Try adding whole corn to the Sloppy Joes, will make it stretch and it does not effect taste, my kids and grand-kids love it. (04/08/2008)
Depends on if you are feeding them snacks or meals. Snacks, big bags of pretzels from Costco, with bowls of peanut butter, Nutella, and maybe marshmallow fluff. The kids love to dip (make savory dips too).
Lately I like to do stuff in a crock pot or some kind of casserole. But some of my favorites have been bite size stuff (minis). Then carry them in casserole pans with lids or cake carriers. Once at the place you can get creative by making a 3 tiered tower.
Breakfast - mini muffins, fruit kabobs, muffin pan sized quiche, or mini casseroles in a cup.
Lunch/Dinner- Pigs in a blanket, old fashion finger sandwiches, or flour tortillas with cream cheese and ham or whatever- roll and slice into pinwheels chill or freeze before serving. Also a hit are mini bite sized hot dogs and hamburgers use any kind of fridge roll dough to wrap the meat and then bake.
Dessert- Mini: brownies, cheese cakes, or cupcakes, serve coffee or tea. You can make a drink station with different mini flavored creamers and types of sugar.
I loved the rice ball idea with the ice cream scooper. I'm going to do that for my son's 1st birthday that is also a luau/pool party in June. Good luck to you all with your events.
If you are feeding them for lunch/ dinner, serve spaghetti with meat sauce and a small salad of tomatoes and lettuce. For drinks, serve instant tea and water. Also, do not be afraid to ask your fellow church members for donations to feed the youths. (04/08/2008)
Try rice crispy bars you can add chocolate chips, M and Ms, raisins, or nuts. (04/08/2008)
Remember baked potatoes, egg salad, deviled, boiled, cold slaw, hearty soups mixed on site and heated before guests arrive, bean burritos, Spanish corn bread, sauerkraut/ franks sliced diagonally (browned first, then boiled with kraut. Chili-tomato macaroni with sliced onions, boxed macaroni and cheese with English peas, cantaloupe sliced thin, lemonade and limeade, pineapple tea, steamed veggies, stuffed celery/ tomatoes/ fresh bread sticks. Good luck and god bless you.
Lynda from Richardson, TX (04/11/2008)
Mix up the pudding with 2 cups milk. (Just whisk it up for a minute or so) and dump in the cake mix. Mix that up and add the chips. Put in a sprayed jelly roll pan, (10 X 15) and bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes. If you do lemon cake mix and pudding, use white chips. If doing chocolate use chocolate mixes and chocolate chips. You could probably use spice cake and butterscotch pudding and chips. Any combination. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or frost if prefer.
When cool, cut in squares. (04/11/2008)
Here in the south we make what is called chicken and rice. It will go a long ways. Boil a good size whole chicken with onion and salt and pepper. When done, remove the chicken, cool and debone. ( I usually strain the stock for litter I don't like.) Add two - three cups of white rice (not the minute rice), return the chicken to the pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover until rice is done. This can be enlarged to make up enough for your crowd. Kids really love this "southern comfort" food.
By Christy M.
Sloppy Joes are inexpensive and go a long way for a crowd.
Macaroni Salad is cheap to make and Jello Molds or just jello/fruit in a pretty bowl then you don't have to unmold. and CHIPS and relishes.
Baked Beans aren't expensive and/or Coleslaw, not expensive to make either.
Have FUN.(quote)(/quote)(quote)(/quote)(quote)(/quote) (06/27/2005)
If you belong to Costco or Sam's Club I think that would be the best way to go. I get my hamburger at Costco and it's really good. The buns are pretty cheap too. You could buy sliced cheese in quantity, giant cans of baked beans and bags of chips. They also have hot dogs or large bags of chicken. The chicken would be more expensive of course. I think you could easily feed 40 any of the above for less than $100 - the cheaper stuff for a good bit less. Good luck and have fun. (06/27/2005)
Most of the grocery stores that sell fried chicken will also sell large quantities at a good price if you order ahead. Buy potato salad/ coleslaw/green salad in bulk at a club store or Smart and Final. Order a sheet cake from one of these stores. Some dinner rolls, and its a snap! (06/27/2005)
Potato salad is simple to make in large quantities, as well as coleslaw and macaroni salad. Baked beans and chili are easy to make in bulk. Don't forget those huge bags of chips, too, and corn bread/rolls/biscuits (depending on what you serve). You won't need much in the way of desserts if you pick up (or make) a large sheet cake. Assorted sodas, coffee and tea would round out the meal. As far as estimating what people will eat, I'd guess on at least 2-3 pieces of meat per adult or teenager (hamburger/hot dog/chicken) and 1 piece per child (kids tend to eat more chips & stuff). If you're buying your salad, figure on at least 1/2 pound per person. Those estimates might seem a little high, but at least you'll have leftovers and not run out. Good luck!
By Karen in NH
Shredded Chicken Sandwiches! Find chicken on sale (boneless/skinless or bone in). Boil chicken until cooked. Let cool so you can handle it. Shred chicken (removing bones and skin). Crush "ritz" type crackers--I recommend generic--stir crackers into chicken and add chicken broth to desired consistency. You can add as many cracker crumbs as you want to stretch the chicken FOREVER! Just add more broth when you add crackers. Make ahead and store in fridge a day or two then heat in crock pot! (07/05/2005)
I'm hosting a luau party for my four year old's birthday and came across this recipe (see bottom) for 50 tonight. It's easy and should be fairly cheap, depending on whether you can get down to the store to catch some of those post fourth of July deals on hamburger:
I can recommend another recipe as well: cut up watermelon with canned tropical fruit or fresh to go with it. Macadamia nuts, fresh fruit, and tons of sticky rice with soy sauce to people's individual preferences (you can usually buy this kind of rice in huge bags at the grocery stores, such as Safeway, the main brands are Calrose and Botan around here). It is easy to make and the directions are simple. Follow them and make two or three batches and you should have plenty. Scoop up with a big ice cream scoop. This and delicatessen Macaroni Salad are a cheap and authentic way to do a cheap and fun luau. Add cake and maybe ice cream or pineapple sherbet and your family will be thrilled. Play some beach boys and luau themed music. Shop at the craft or dollar store for cheap leis, etc. I bought the cheapy leis 6 for $1 at the local dollar store. The market is just exploding right now with cheap Hawaiian and Polynesian themed summer and party everything.
Serve Hawaiian Fruit Punch, or a concoction of your own; there are lots of recipes if you search online for this and other dishes:
Easy punch: 7 up combined with a fruit punch and even pineapple sherbet mixed in just before serving. That's if you enjoy the luau thing. And never never forget the power of the hot dog! I just bought several packages for $1 a package, Hebrew Nationals, good stuff, at the grocery outlet here. You never know what you can save even on the cheapest items!
Recipe: Maui Meatball for 50 People:
6 lbs leanest ground beef
2 C soy sauce
1 C water
1 clove garlic
1 2/1 tsp powdered sugar
Form meat into 1" meatballs; place in single layer in shallow baking pans. Combine remaining ingredients and pour about 1/2 of sauce over meatballs. Check frequently, adding more sauce as necessary. Bake for 1 hour at 275 degrees. To prepare ahead of time, up to 2 days, store cooked meatballs in a large casserole dish--pour remaining sauce over them; cover and refrigerate; Reheat in oven and serve with food picks. (07/06/2005)
THANKS Joanne for the Sloppy Joe idea and to the guest who suggested the shredded chicken sandwiches! I have a one year old birthday party to through for my daughter and I need to feed about 40-70 people! :) You've been a GREAT help! (10/30/2006)
Have you ever tried sloppy joe's with hot dogs? My friend suggested this for a party, her family puts sloppy joe's in a roaster and then adds hot dogs to cook with the sloppy joe's. Your guests can have hot dogs, sloppy joe's or sloppy dogs. (11/23/2007)
By Amie Savage