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MelissaH

Feeding a crowd

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My husband and I have volunteered to serve a meal to our university's women's hockey team next week. We'll have 24 college athletes, plus a couple of coaches and possibly a handful of other adults, plus the two of us. We've already been warned that the team eats a lot! Right now, it doesn't look like we'll have any worries about food allergies or intense dislikes, although this is not an adventurous-eating crowd.

For our menu, we've settled on tortillas with stuff to go inside---some might say "tacos" but we won't be doing a traditional taco spread. We plan to slow-roast some pork shoulders and then pull them (for a variety of reasons, I won't have time to smoke them, so the oven will have to suffice). We'll do that the day before, and then reheat the meat the day of. We'll have =Mark's bbq sauce and probably also a tomatillo/pumpkin seed sauce, assuming we can find tomatillos. Shredded cheese, lettuce, salsa, sour cream. Pickled onions. Cole slaw. A pot of rice and a pot of black beans. And flour tortillas. Cookies for dessert: I'm thinking I'll make and freeze a batch of dough each day this week, which can get quickly baked the day of the meal: a couple of batches of choc chip and a couple of batches of something without chocolate such as a dough that can get easily turned into jam thumbprints (or a couple of batches of rice krispy treats); maybe a batch or two of brownies also if I have the time. We can easily have veggie-and-dip trays, for early arrivers or those at the end of the line who have to wait to eat. And we'll have help with day-of prep, as a few of the team members like to cook and have volunteered to come early.

At this point, my biggest concern (apart from finding space for everyone to put their wet shoes) is making sure we have enough food on hand. We'll be setting things up as a build-your-own buffet, if that enters into the equation. That said, what are your best guesses on the amount of stuff we'll need to buy/make/have? We're trying to minimize the number of choices available, because past experience tells us that when you have more choices, people tend to eat more because they need to try some of everything. We figured that between the pork and the rice and beans, there would be enough protein choices that we didn't need another hunk of a different beast; do you believe our thinking is correct? (If we did, we'd probably go for turkey breast, or maybe chicken if it turned out to be less expensive when we shop.)

Any thoughts on other things we're missing? Would it be wrong not to have chips? How many cups of rice and pounds of dried beans should I plan on cooking?

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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This is not my bailiwick, but it occurs to me that Mexican spiced almonds are always a big success. So little work...no peeling even...and such a good return.

Good luck :smile:


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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Hi Melissa, I think chips would not be the best choice for athletes....the veggies and dip (something made with lite sour cream/yogurt blend) would be more appropriate. As for rice, I would plan on 1 to 1.5 cups cooked per person; beans would be about 1/2 to 1 cup cooked per person. If the tortillas are 8 inch, you will likely need at least two per person (these won't go to waste if you have extras because you can freeze them). Maybe some fruit like apples or bananas or even canned fruit as an alternative choice to the cookies and brownies (my choice would be the rice krispy treats.....athletes love these). Also, if I may, try to find a lower fat dressing for the coleslaw. Before retirement I was a sports nutritionist and designed many a ''training table". Hope that helps.

Heather

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if you make the rice and beans without animal products you won't have to worry about vegetarians, kosher or halal diners.

People who require their food to be halal (and who actually are strict about their dietary rules) will not eat anything from a kitchen that has pork cooked in it. If there are any strictly halal people at your function they will eat nothing at all - even if pork isn't on the menu because your kitchen isn't halal.

Seeing as the kosher and halal dietary requirements are sooo similar, the same should be true of any strictly kosher diners.

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Unless something changed over the holidays, we have no vegetarians, kosher requirements, or halal requirements either. So we're clear on that front. :smile:

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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if you make the rice and beans without animal products you won't have to worry about vegetarians, kosher or halal diners.

People who require their food to be halal (and who actually are strict about their dietary rules) will not eat anything from a kitchen that has pork cooked in it. If there are any strictly halal people at your function they will eat nothing at all - even if pork isn't on the menu because your kitchen isn't halal.

Seeing as the kosher and halal dietary requirements are sooo similar, the same should be true of any strictly kosher diners.

I knew that, and yes, it's true of kosher dining, but then again, I figured that anyone who was that strict might not even show up. I do know some muslims and some jews who eat in regular restaurants (olive garden, mcdonalds, pf changs) and simply don't order the pork, shellfish, etc.

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Hi Melissa, I think chips would not be the best choice for athletes....the veggies and dip (something made with lite sour cream/yogurt blend) would be more appropriate. As for rice, I would plan on 1 to 1.5 cups cooked per person; beans would be about 1/2 to 1 cup cooked per person. If the tortillas are 8 inch, you will likely need at least two per person (these won't go to waste if you have extras because you can freeze them). Maybe some fruit like apples or bananas or even canned fruit as an alternative choice to the cookies and brownies (my choice would be the rice krispy treats.....athletes love these). Also, if I may, try to find a lower fat dressing for the coleslaw. Before retirement I was a sports nutritionist and designed many a ''training table". Hope that helps.

Heather

Heather,

Thanks for your input---that's exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for.

Got a favorite dip recipe you'd care to share?

We tend to keep low-fat mayo on hand. Do we need to go more extreme than that for the coleslaw dressing?

How much dry rice and beans would you cook? That's the sort of thing I'm having trouble getting my head wrapped around at the moment.

I'm hoping we can actually find 8-inch tortillas; the larger ones are far more prevalent in the stores here. I know corn tortillas are lower in fat than flour tortillas, but without making a special trip I'd have to make them myself, which means a whole afternoon doing nothing but. Flour tortillas, though, I can buy.

We can easily get apples around here, as we live in one of NY's prime apple-growing regions and have a great orchard store just up the road. Bananas are evil, though, so we'll find an alternative to these if we want another fruit. It may depend on what's on sale and looks good when we shop.

Everyone loves RK treats; I just prefer them freshly prepared and there's going to be enough going on that day that I'll have to carve out stove and pot space for them. But I'm known as a baker, so I'm inclined to make a batch of some kind of cookies (possibly my oatmeal-choc chip, which I make tiny) or cake (which can get thinly sliced). I'd like to make sure there's something with chocolate.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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As a rule of thumb, I go by 1 kilogram/2 lbs of food is enough to leave one person stuffed. Roughly 30 - 40% of that should be meat, 30 - 50% starch & the rest veggies.

So for a group of 30 people, I would split it out like this:

20lbs of pork shoulder

20lbs cooked weight of rice & beans

Enough sides to complement.


PS: I am a guy.

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Hi Melissa:

Dip Recipes:

1. Simple

1/2 cup salsa; 1/2 cup light sour cream; 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander/cilantro........a mexican flare and you can add toasted cumin if you like

2. Middle

1/4 up reduced fat cream cheese, softened; 2 tablespoons buttermilk; 2 tablespoons scallions; 1 tablespoon dill or parsley or cilantro for that matter; 1 tsp. prepared horseradish or more to taste; salt and pepper

3. Upscale

10 oz package frozen chopped spinach (squeeze dry); 1-14 0z can artichoke hearts, drained...process these two in a food processor until coarsely chopped Add 1/2 cup light mayo (Hellmans is the best tasting); 1 tablespoon fresh dill or basil or 1/2 tsp dried; 1 small clove garlic minced; salt and pepper....process until mixed then stir in 1 1/4 cups low fat yogurt (2%). Check seasoning.

These can all be made the day before and will usually taste better if they are left for 24 hours to develop more flavour....you probably know that.

Yields:

1 cup dry rice will yield 2 1/2 cups cooked rice; 1 cup dry beans will yield 2 1/2 to 3 cups cooked beans.

I don't think you need to worry about going more low fat that the dressings and dips.

Corn tortillas don't tend to be as easy to eat nor as popular. Some flour tortillas can be low fat....try to stay around 3 grams of fat for every 100 calories. For example a tortilla that is 150 calories, 4.5 grams of fat would constitute a "low fat" choice. But with the flour tortillas, if you can very lightly toast them over the gas outlet just to take the "raw taste" out of them....not more than 3 to 4 seconds per side over the open flame. You can do this ahead also and wrap the tortillas in plastic.

As far as the fruit goes, I wouldn't go more than apples or if grapes are on sale, that would be plenty....just to give a choice.

Having a chocolate something is a good idea :rolleyes:

cheers, Heather

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Rice Krispy treats get made in the microwave around here now.....biiiig plastic or glass bowl, melt 2Tbl butter and swirl up the sides of the bowl, add marshmallows and nuke till poofy (Keep an eye on them) the mix in cereal. Best part ever....Nothing sticks to the bowl

tracey


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

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Shalmanese, would you mind clarifying how you got from 2lbs each is a stuffing, to 40lbs-plus-alpha for 24 people ?

Forced to guess, I'd suppose sides might make up another 25% for a total of 50lbs, 0r 2lb each for roughly 24. Is that how you got there ? Or some other way ?


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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You can improve the rice krispies treats by using brown butter, and I use the jarred marshmallow fluff because it contains no gelatin, but, I have found that treats made with is remain softer longer than those made with marshmallows. And so, it may be good to use it if you are prepping them a day in advance.

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You can improve the rice krispies treats by using brown butter, and I use the jarred marshmallow fluff because it contains no gelatin, but, I have found that treats made with is remain softer longer than those made with marshmallows. And so, it may be good to use it if you are prepping them a day in advance.

Adding a tad of cayenne gives a nice nip to the RC treats!


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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Shalmanese, would you mind clarifying how you got from 2lbs each is a stuffing, to 40lbs-plus-alpha for 24 people ?

Forced to guess, I'd suppose sides might make up another 25% for a total of 50lbs, 0r 2lb each for roughly 24. Is that how you got there ? Or some other way ?

It's not 24 people, it's closer to 30 which means you need 60 lbs of food. 20 lb meat, 20+tortilla starch & 20lb veggies/sides seems like a fairly easy rough way to divide it.


PS: I am a guy.

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It's not 24 people, it's closer to 30...

Oof ! I need to pay more attention. Thanks :smile:


QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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As a rule of thumb, I go by 1 kilogram/2 lbs of food is enough to leave one person stuffed. Roughly 30 - 40% of that should be meat, 30 - 50% starch & the rest veggies.

That seems to be a very high estimate. Granted, it's a group of young athletes, but 12-13 oz. of meat, three-quarters to a pound of rice/beans? Per person? For one meal?

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As a rule of thumb, I go by 1 kilogram/2 lbs of food is enough to leave one person stuffed. Roughly 30 - 40% of that should be meat, 30 - 50% starch & the rest veggies.

That seems to be a very high estimate. Granted, it's a group of young athletes, but 12-13 oz. of meat, three-quarters to a pound of rice/beans? Per person? For one meal?

It's most definitely erring on the side of caution. You have to also account for loss in cooking, it's 1 kg of raw weight which will shrink down as water evaporates.

I've generally used my rule of thumb when planning multi-course dinner parties where I need to decide things like whether 2 chickens are enough or do I need 3. It should work as a rough rule of thumb in this scenario.


PS: I am a guy.

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Rice Krispy treats get made in the microwave around here now.....biiiig plastic or glass bowl, melt 2Tbl butter and swirl up the sides of the bowl, add marshmallows and nuke till poofy (Keep an eye on them) the mix in cereal. Best part ever....Nothing sticks to the bowl

My biggest microwave-safe bowl is an 8-cup measuring cup. I have both plastic and glass. Will this be big enough? Any bigger wouldn't fit in my microwave anyway.

You can improve the rice krispies treats by using brown butter, and I use the jarred marshmallow fluff because it contains no gelatin, but, I have found that treats made with is remain softer longer than those made with marshmallows. And so, it may be good to use it if you are prepping them a day in advance.

Adding a tad of cayenne gives a nice nip to the RC treats!

While brown butter and cayenne might be nice, I'm staying away from anything that's even remotely weird or different for this crowd. We're probably already going to be stretching their culinary horizons, in some cases, and this is meant to be an enjoyable and relaxing meal, not a challenging one. Maybe next time.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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I guess my approach was from the nutritional stand point, which is my training. I.e., how many calories will they eat keeping in mind that the recommended percentages are 55 to 60% carbohydrates (beans, rice, tortillas, veggies and cookies); 15% - 20% protein (beans and pork) and 20-30% fat (dressing, baked goods and fat in pork/tortillas). Total number of calories is an estimate based on prior experience with diet histories (assessing what athletes say they eat at various meals).

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Hi Melissa--I think your menu choices sound great, and that you don't need to offer any additional protein choice since you have the pork and the beans (plus the shredded cheese garnish--I'd recommend having a good supply of this).

A concern about the rice--while the pork and the beans are relatively forgiving about being cooked in large batches, rice can sometimes be a bit more fussy. Was this going to be just plain rice, or some sort of seasoned Mexican-style rice? I'd suggest giving the recipe a test run if you've not done it before, and cooking it in a couple of small batches instead of one big one. Or maybe borrow one of those large-capacity automatic rice cookers, which will cook the rice perfectly and even hold it at serving temperature for a good while.

Even with the beans, another thing I've discovered with large-quantity cooking is how much longer things can take to cook. Bringing a big pot of water up to temperature to cook or reheat something like beans can take what seems like for-freakin' ever! I've learned some big lessons on planning ahead accordingly.

Also, unless I clean missed it, I didn't see any mention of beverages. Is someone else providing those, or are you on for those as well?

Oh yeah--is this a pre-game meal, a post-game meal, or a general social-gathering-feed-the-hungry-athletes kind of meal? To my mind, that would somewhat influence whether the athletes are looking to eat lighter or to carb out. ;-)

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Hi Melissa--I think your menu choices sound great, and that you don't need to offer any additional protein choice since you have the pork and the beans (plus the shredded cheese garnish--I'd recommend having a good supply of this).

A concern about the rice--while the pork and the beans are relatively forgiving about being cooked in large batches, rice can sometimes be a bit more fussy. Was this going to be just plain rice, or some sort of seasoned Mexican-style rice? I'd suggest giving the recipe a test run if you've not done it before, and cooking it in a couple of small batches instead of one big one. Or maybe borrow one of those large-capacity automatic rice cookers, which will cook the rice perfectly and even hold it at serving temperature for a good while.

We have a 10-cup rice cooker. I was planning to use that, and just do plain white rice, nothing special. That way, if there's anything left over, it'll be more flexible than something seasoned.

Even with the beans, another thing I've discovered with large-quantity cooking is how much longer things can take to cook. Bringing a big pot of water up to temperature to cook or reheat something like beans can take what seems like for-freakin' ever! I've learned some big lessons on planning ahead accordingly.

We're definitely planning to cook the beans ahead of time. Worst-case scenario, they'll be cooking overnight in the crockpot or in the oven. That's part of my concern about trying to figure out how many pounds of dry beans we'll need!

Also, unless I clean missed it, I didn't see any mention of beverages. Is someone else providing those, or are you on for those as well?

Nope, we're on for beverages also. We'll talk to the captains to find out what sort of thing the team likes. I'm hoping for a bunch of water drinkers, as that will make our lives easier. :wink: Definitely no alcohol, as that's out according to the university. We're contemplating making a big batch of limonada, especially since we'll have help squeezing the limes.

Oh yeah--is this a pre-game meal, a post-game meal, or a general social-gathering-feed-the-hungry-athletes kind of meal? To my mind, that would somewhat influence whether the athletes are looking to eat lighter or to carb out. ;-)

The team plays a couple of games this weekend. We feed them on Wednesday, when presumably they'll have a practice. And they have a couple of games the following weekend. So it'll be a post-practice, relax-a-little sort of meal. We're between semesters, so the choices of food are limited, particularly for the majority of the team living in the campus residence halls. That's part of the reason for us doing this team meal during next week.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Ahah ... found the website I was looking for: Razzle Dazzle -- Cooking for a Crowd. Despite its name, the majority of these recipes are pretty basic, to even simplistic. And you probably won't find a specific recipe for the dishes you're planning. But I've used the quantities of ingredients given in these recipes to give me an idea of the quantities I need for whatever dish I was thinking of making. For instance, I realize of course that it's not Boston baked beans you plan to make, but this recipe that serves 32 at least gives you a ballpark for the amount of dried beans you might want to start with. (i.e. this one says 4 pounds).

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MelissaH, the menu sounds yummy. Most of the university women I know, especially the athletes living on campus, will love seeing meat on the table :laugh: Double points for finding grapes on sale!

4-6 lbs of beans sounds about right. I've just cooked 2 lbs, which was about 4 cups dried, and that made 9 cups cooked. As an "extra" or side dish, most people will take about 1/2 - 3/4 cup, depending upon the size of the serving spoon :hmmm:

I second the advice above re: cooking two or three smaller batches, rather than one large one. In fact, if you have a microwave, then you could even make the rice the day before, chill, then reheat on an "as needed" basis. Again, about 1/2 to 1 cup, cooked, per serving, depending upon the size of the spoon. (btw, 1 cup raw, long grain rice is about 5 ounces, so, 3 1/3 cups per pound) I suppose you'll want to have 20-30 cups, cooked, on hand.

As for the shoes: are you able to fit in a small wire bookshelf near the door? Sometimes the 2nd hand store/thrift shop has them for very little $$. What will you do with wet coats? Maybe a local clothing store, thrift shop or dry cleaner can lend you a rack. Do you have enough chairs, or can you rent/borrow? Stools generally take less room than office chairs (natch).

Have a great time!


Karen Dar Woon

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MelissaH, the menu sounds yummy. Most of the university women I know, especially the athletes living on campus, will love seeing meat on the table :laugh: Double points for finding grapes on sale!

Our supermarket ads change on Sundays, so we won't know for sure till the weekend what fruit will be feasible. I do know that apples from the orchard store are always a good and reasonable option; should I go that route, I'd just make sure I choose a mix of varieties that will combine nicely into a pie, or crisp, or even applesauce if they don't get eaten as is.

4-6 lbs of beans sounds about right. I've just cooked 2 lbs, which was about 4 cups dried, and that made 9 cups cooked. As an "extra" or side dish, most people will take about 1/2 - 3/4 cup, depending upon the size of the serving spoon :hmmm:

Good point about the serving spoon size. I know we have plenty of pots big enough to hold 4 lbs of beans while they cook. This time of the year, we have both the "walk-in" (garage) and the "walk-out" (deck) refrigerators in service, so there won't be a problem storing the cooked beans overnight either.

I second the advice above re: cooking two or three smaller batches, rather than one large one. In fact, if you have a microwave, then you could even make the rice the day before, chill, then reheat on an "as needed" basis. Again, about 1/2 to 1 cup, cooked, per serving, depending upon the size of the spoon. (btw, 1 cup raw, long grain rice is about 5 ounces, so, 3 1/3 cups per pound) I suppose you'll want to have 20-30 cups, cooked, on hand.

One rice-cooker cup is 3/4 of a standard cup, so that means 10 rice cooker cups would work out to be 7.5 standard cups, which is about 37.5 ounces, which is about 2 1/3 pounds, which would make about 7 3/4 cups cooked. We'll need to run through three full rice-cooker loads (to make about 23 1/2 cups of cooked rice), each of which takes about 40 minutes. That should be no problem if we start in the morning, or even early in the afternoon. As long as we get the first two loads done before people start eating and have the third well underway, we should be good on the rice front.

As for the shoes: are you able to fit in a small wire bookshelf near the door? Sometimes the 2nd hand store/thrift shop has them for very little $$.

Unfortunately, we don't have much room for a small bookshelf near the door. But I may try putting one of our plastic shelving units in the space behind where the door opens. If I can find something small enough, it won't get in the way of the door opening. But I think we'll wind up stacking the shoes on the stairs, which were NOT just redone. Or we'll set up a shelving unit downstairs in the laundry room.

What will you do with wet coats? Maybe a local clothing store, thrift shop or dry cleaner can lend you a rack.

Coats will go on the guest bed, which will be covered with a blanket we don't really care about. They're unlikely to be wet, because we're unlikely to get rain this time of year. What's far more likely is lake-effect snow (Fulton, NY, which has been on several national news programs lately, is the next town south of us). Lake-effect snow is usually fluffy and powdery, so that you can just shake yourself and it all flies off of you.

Do you have enough chairs, or can you rent/borrow? Stools generally take less room than office chairs (natch).

We have some chairs, and lots of floor space and cushions that can be leaned against walls. Nothing like a picnic in January. :wink:

Have a great time!

I'm looking forward to it. They're a nice batch of young women, and we're glad to be able to make their lives a little easier. (We enjoy and support the men's hockey team also, but they have far more external support and a much larger fan base than the women do.) My big concern is that they'll like what we feed them, word will spread, and they'll want us to do it again next year!

MelissaH

edited for minor clarifications


Edited by MelissaH (log)

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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