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Cooking for 50 Senior Citizens


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Today's meal.

Mixed green salad w/ French dressing

Martha Stewarts Meatloaf 101

Baked spuds w/ sourcream and chives

frozen veg( green beans, wax beans, carrots( not shown)

Holy Cow Cake( choc. cake with choc. chips, caramel, creamcheese whipped topping, chopped up skor( heath) bars.)

nice! Can you please PM me w/ the recipe for the cake? How long did it take to bake?

I made the meatloaf yesterday at my other job.  I used the giant hobart to mix up the meat mixture.  I left it in the walk-in overnight and baked it off today.

lucky you! access to a hobart.

Have a great time in Florida, Randi!

Karen Dar Woon

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Hey Randi!

I think you're doin' a great job, especially w/ $3 pp. Your dinners look really yummy. And don't worry about using frozen veg. People don't mind, really. It's probably really familiar to most of them.

For our Community Meal tonight, I made:

Slow baked Southern BBQ pork

Baked Potatoes w/ sourcream

Coleslaw with cranberries & sunflower seeds

Frozen Corn

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

Picked up most of the supplies yesterday. Started the "BBQ" roast at 10:30 this AM in a 300F oven. Left for a few hours, and met up w/ my volunteer helpers at 1:30. They mixed the cake batter, washed & halved potatoes, and mixed coleslaw. Dressing was mayo, buttermilk, vinegar, oil & seasonings. Come to think of it, we forgot to add the green onions. Oops.

Using 40 kg of pork sirloin steaks, 30 lbs of potatoes, 15 pounds of shredded coleslaw mix, and 5 lbs of frozen corn, we had "just" enough for 105 people (98 guests, plus volunteers). The dessert was 8 cake mixes (2 layer size), baked in 2 full size (chafing dish) inserts and one half size insert.

I am jealous of your hobart mixer! It would have been soooo handy for when I made meatloaf a couple of weeks ago.

Thanks for starting this thread. I've found all kinds of helpful info and input here. It's been great inspiration, too, for my new job as Community Meal Chef.



Karen Dar Woon

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  • 1 month later...

I cooked for the Seniors today. I normally cook for 50ppl , today was just 25 because I filled in at another program. I think I'm getting used to cooking for 50 now as I made way too much salad. So, onto the menu.....

Chicken, mushroom, onion pie

mixed green salad

corn muffins

fresh asparagus( roasted)

Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding for dessert.

The pie is made by cooking onions, green peppers and ground chicken( or ground beef). The adding paprika,2 tbls of flour, salt and pepper. This is mixed with sourcream and eggs and fresh parsely. The mixture is placed into an unbaked pastry shell and baked. Omg, they loved it!! I made 6 pies and cut them into 6 pieces. I sold all the extra pie as take-out dinners. The salad has romaine, radicchio, red leaf, iceberg, shredded carrots, green pepper, radish and grape tomatoes. I forgot the cucumbers at home. I served a bottled dressing( french) because I just had too much to do. I normally make homeade dressing.

The corn muffins are just a PC organic mix. I was surprised at how good they were. They didnt taste like a mix at all. I roasted the asparagus with Evoo, salt and pepper. They never get fresh veg so they were very excited. The dessert was a Paula Deen recipe. Instant vanilla pudding is mixed with Milk. 1 bar of cream cheese is whipped with a can of sweetened condensed milk. Combine this with the pudding mixture and then add 2 cups of whipped cream or coolwhip( I used whipped cream). On the bottom of a pan place Peppridge Farm Cheesman cookies( not availble in Canada, I used a PC all Butter shortbread cookie) lthen a layer of sliced bananas, Then more crumbled cookies. Chill for a few hours.

Oh, I had 3 " helpers" today. Not having kids myself, my patience was a wee bit tried today. Three 12yr old boys came over from the public school to help cook and serve. Then they eat with the Seniors and help clean up. I was trying to supervise all three of them at the same time. They all wanted to cook. I had one of them helping with the banana pudding, one of them using the salad spinner and one of them dishing out the honey butter. I had left a toothpick( for testing the corn muffins) on the counter. Guess where it ended up? In someone's banana pudding. I think it might have stuck to the bottom of the bowl with the whipped cream or cream cheese mixture and when the boys dumped it into the larger mixing bowl it fell in. I also found bits of lettuce in the pudding too. Thankfully, the lady didnt swallow it. Oy Vey!!

Ok, on to the pictures. Any questions, please ask. I'm rushing thru writing this as I have to be at the caterer for 4pm so I can make multiple batches of lemon curd and custards for the wedding cakes.








baked pie








cut up pie

This post is crossposted in my foodblog!!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Today's meal:

Open faced hot turkey sandwiches


cranberry sauce.

fresh brocolli and baby carrots

brownie sundaes

The dessert was made using a mix called double stacks. It was a krusteaz mix that I bought at a liquidation place. One layer is brownie, the top layer is choc. chip cookie. It wasnt bad for a mix. 1 box made 2 8x8 pans. They were 4.00 a box. I served them with a scoop of breyers vanilla( on sale for 2.77 a half gallon. This icecream is normally 8.50 for a half gallon!!!!) I also used some hersheys choc. syrup, whipped cream in a can and a cherry.


I made coleslaw using a packaged coleslaw blend( 1.14) and chopped green onions. The dressing is mayo, cider vinegar, celery seed, a touch of sugar, s +p.


cole slaw

I got a fantastic deal on boneless turkey breasts( PC airchilled). They cost me 1.99lb and each one was an average of 2.5lbs. I cooked 10 which I knew would be too much. I ended up using 6. I froze the 4 for a meal at another program(25ppl).


hot open faced turkey sandwich.


Here is my plate. I bought a 20lb bag of russet potatoes for 5.99.

I made some turkey stock awhile back. I used that with a product called Bistro. Its a weird granule type thing that makes gravy. I didnt have enough drippings to make my own.

The meal was succesful. I bought 2 loaves of an enriched white bread thinking it would go better with turkey. A lady was shocked they were getting white bread. Oh well, live and learn. I'm sure if I bought wheat, they would have complained about that too.

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i used to eat a lot at the mountpleasant neighbourhood house in Vancouver. their program is for seniors AND moms with small babies. It was the one meal a week i could eat with both hands when my baby was small. The seniors were amazing at keeping my kid entertained while i ate. Anyways, i digress.

You would not imagine what healthy fare the cook there whipped up week after week. Amazing Salads the likes of which i had never tasted (lupini???). Soups that had combinations of ingredients i had never tasted before. Wonderful desserts that i thought some people won't even want to try (beet chocolate cake, anyone?). well, you know what? once the chef established herself, everyone was not only eating whatever she suggested but going back for seconds.

Just show them you can cook and in a few weeks, they will be happy to try your new dishes :)

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Hi Randi!

Ok, I've been lurking and I wanted to say what a nice job you're doing with the meals, and I can really see how this is a true challenge, what with coming up with different foods to serve to please a crowd, and I think you have a lot of imagination and creativity! I'm really enjoying seeing your journey here.

As for pleasing the seniors, I also wanted to reassure you that this is no easy task, as my mother who's pushing for eighty (and doesn't have a computer so I can talk about her), drives me nuts- NOTHING is ever right. She didn't use to be a complainer, and I'm really relating it to her advancing age, and I wanted to say that because I'm pretty much daily sucking it up and dealing with her, that you shouldn't take the complaints to heart. It's plain to see you're going a beautiful job and I know the seniors are grateful to you, whether they say it or not.

And yes, if you'd served wheat bread, someone would have been unhappy. Like I said, don't take it to heart- my mother bitches if the stamps she buys are flags and not flowers or butterflies. And flips if a book is taken back to the library one day late- see, that's what I'm talking about!

But thanks again for letting us into your very interesting (and tasty) world! :biggrin:


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  • 3 weeks later...

From last Thursday:

Fruity spinach salad. Baby spinach, canned mandarin oranges, red onion, fresh blueberries and raspberries. Poppyseed dressing. This went over well.


This was their veg. They were on sale for 1.99 a bag. I bought 8 bags. I microwaved them for 4 minutes per bag. To my palate, they were perfect. I had a complaint that they werent cooked enough.


I introduced the seniors to America's favorite muffin. I picked these mixes up at Kroger in MI. 6 boxes cost me 2.72 plus eggs and milk. They loved these!!!



Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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Can you guess what this is?


Why its the San Francisco Treat of course.

Rice-A-Roni. On sale for 50 cents a box. I used 1 seasoning packet for 2 boxes. Way less salty that way. They liked it, but they complained that it was cold.( It wasnt, I kept it warm in the oven).

Main dish was pork tenderloin. I got it for 2.97lb. I used 14 for 48ppl. I could have used a few more for takeout meals. I broiled them and brushed them with a simple sauce of apricot jam mixed with brown mustard. This is an Everyday Food magazine recipe( Hi Emma!!)



I heard yet another complaint( why do I still do this I wonder??) Someone said the pork wasnt cooked enough. Hello, I cooked it until 170F. Pork should be pulled at 150-160 and rested. I cooked it more so it wouldnt be pink. I thought that would freak them out. Personally, I thought it was kinda dry. I poured some leftover sauce over each platter. Anyway, despite the complaints, I thought the meal came out great.

Tomorrow I cook in my town( I'm filling in). I'll post that meal later.

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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Another meal on Tuesday.

Saurkraut. I served this cold because thats how we always ate it when I was growing up. I heard some complaints that it should have been warmed.


Smoked sausage( heat and serve)


Fresh green beans


Sue and Gloria's baked beans( Paula Dean recipe). This is basically dressed up baked beans. BBQ sauce, mustard, pineapple. french's fried onions, etc.


Dessert was brownie sundaes.

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Heh. Randi, I really feel for you. I am now doing a rent-exchange arrangement in which I am cooking for and otherwise looking out for a 75-year-old gentleman with some mild and variable mental issues (forgetfulness, easily confused, etc.), and boy can it be challenging. Rather than drag this thread off-topic, I think I'll start a whole separate topic on my experiences so far; but just wanted to mention here that there are some definite similarities of experience.

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I totally planned out my meal for Thursday. Thanks to Marlene for a great suggestion. Sirlon tip roast is on sale for 2.88lb and Marlene mentioned beef stroganoff.

I got a call today that the meal is cancelled for Thursday. There was a double murder here on Sunday and everyone is freaked out. As I'm from California, it doesnt really phase me. Yes, its a big deal because crime( especially violent crime) is very rare. I just wanted to cook dammit!!

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That sucks. The beef will freeze well and you can make the meal next time you cook for them maybe?



Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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That sucks.  The beef will freeze well and you can make the meal next time you cook for them maybe?

I hadnt even bought it yet. Anyway, I just got a call and the meal is back on. I knew this was going to happen. I took a lunch catering job in London so now I have to drive to London and drop off food and then drive all the way back to Grand Bend. Its either feast or famine eh?

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I apologize to you all--I just started reading this topic.

As someone who's had parents in both assisted living and nursing homes, I can tell you that the food is the one thing they complain about the most. Part of the problem is that the food is unsalted, for obvious reasons. You can make the most succulent dish, but if it has no salt it's pretty much tasteless. Our taste buds have been dulled by the use of salt over our lifetimes, but there's a reason salt was so highly prized (and priced) when it became available. It makes food taste better. It also is implicated in high blood pressure, and as a result food in these environments are pretty much salt-free.

In our community there are significant populations of Italians and Hispanics, so the food at the local nursing home features things like lasagna and enchiladas, which pleases my mom. I think it would be a great idea to ask them what they want to eat. It will probably be the first time that anyone (other than their spouses) wanted to know. By now I'm sure you have, and have gotten wonderful ideas from them.


Formerly "Nancy in CO"

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Yesterday's meal:

Man, I was tired after cooking this meal. Tired and HOT!! There is NO A/C in the church and the house next door was burning tons and tons of brush. I couldnt open the window because of the smoke. Ugh....

I picked up the beef in the morning. I asked the butcher to cut it for Stroganoff, but they cut it into chunks instead. I ended up with what looked like a beef stew w/sour cream rather than stroganoff. I also split the recipe up between 4 pans. I brought 3 of my Le Creuset from home and I used a really large non-stick skillet. I might have added too much liquid too.


I seem to have a problem when cooking rice/noodles for a crowd. The noodles never returned to a boil. They ended up a gummy mess. I wanted to throw them out, but one of the volunteers suggested we throw the stroganoff/stew on top of the noodles. That worked well as it all kinda blended together. I didnt get one complaint( except to ask where the potatoes were) and I had 7 take-outs.


The salad recipe was from Foodland Ontario. Basically a bunch of veggies cut up( supposed to be in chunks, but the volunteers cut them small). The dressing was EVOO, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper and some prepared pesto. Chopped parsely is added to the salad. I really enjoyed the salad.


The veg was frozen( carrots, green and wax beans). The dessert was storebought( blueberry pie from Our Compliments Brand w/ ice cream). I had NO time to make the desserts because the meal was on then off then on again. I went over by about 10 bucks for this meal. I ended up selling about 2lbs of the beef(raw) to a volunteer for 8 dollars.

The next meal( in 2 weeks) is a cold supper. I have hams that are in the freezer. I got them on sale at Easter.

Potato salad, macaroni salad, veg platter, jello salad, etc, etc.

Edited by CaliPoutine (log)
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Yesterday's meal:

The salad recipe was from Foodland Ontario.  Basically a bunch of veggies cut up( supposed to be in chunks, but the volunteers cut them small).  The dressing was EVOO, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper and some prepared pesto.  Chopped parsely is added to the salad.  I really enjoyed the salad.

Hey Randi!

I love my volunteers. It only took a few weeks for them to start asking me to demo the "cut" or whatever, that I was asking for.

We are very fortunate; the space was designed especially for group cooking. Also, I usually have 3-4 people to help with prep and 4-5 to help with serving each week. Our Community Meal program is almost a year old (started Oct. 06) and I am the second chef. Some regular guests have started asking for recipes. The allotment garden in our region has some land set aside to grow food for the Food Bank, and for not-for-profit or food security agencies. My program qualifies, and so we have been given the most wonderful salad greens, kolerabi and zucchini this month. Now, if only I would remember to take photos.

Keep up the good work.

Karen Dar Woon

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I'm finalizing my menu for August 9th. Its a cold supper using Ham I bought at Easter(1.49lb).

I need some side salad ideas. I'm thinking of doing a macaroni salad( I'm serving Potato salad for the August 25th meal). A watergate salad, a veggie platter w/dip. I need another salad idea. Maybe something with Jello?

Dessert is Tres Leches cake.

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Hubby is planning on making an apple salad tonight to go with our roast pork. I'm not exactly sure what's in it, besides apples and mayonnaise, but I'll report back if it's good!

How about a broccoli and cherry tomato salad?



Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I know you said "cold supper" but I always include one hot dish in case it's rainy and nasty outside.

In this case, I think your salad selection is fine as it stands: something starchy, something sweet, something crunchy/savory.

I'd suggest a soup which can be drunk from a cup or mug, as you probably don't have soup cups. This might be simply chicken broth(chicken stock base in water is actually pretty good if you have a nicely flavored one), or a puree of vegetable soup, with or without cream, or a cheddar soup. I have an EASY all purpose recipe for a clear tomato broth which includes beef broth and orange juice and basil. With all those flavors you can use canned liquids.

My other preference for something hot would be a nice cheesy hot bread, or a quick bread I make with sauteed onions and poppyseeds on top. Assuming you weren't planning on them making sandwiches, of course

If you really don't want to cook anything, how about some sliced tomatoes if you have access to good ones now.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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I always think pineapple with ham...yes the rings with the cherry inside...

but how about a carrot, raisin, pineapple salad with a sourcream dressing


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


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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  • 2 weeks later...

I forgot my camera so no pics :sad:

This meal went over well. I changed a few things because I felt I had too many "white foods". I ended up warming up the hams I bought at Easter. I used 3 hams that I got for 1.49lb. I thought the texture looked strange after they were defrosted, but I had no complaints. I bought 3(5lb) containers of Macaroni salad( Reecers brand). I paid 15.00 total. I used 4 English cukes( probably only needed 2), 4 bags of baby carrots .99 ( 2 or 3 would have done it) and 3 bunches of celery( 99 cents each). I bought 2 bottles of Ranch dressing( 1 dollar each). I was going to make my own but while I was shopping with Egullet member Pookie, she talked me out of it. She said the Seniors wouldnt know the difference and I'm sure she was right.

I bought 8 boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix at Wal*Mart in Port Huron. (.33 each). They just go wild for these muffins.

I made Watergate salad and bought a gorgeous seedless watermelon. For dessert, I made Cooking Light's Texas Sheet cake.

It was really hot so I bought Tea Bags for Ice tea. I thought they would love it, but not so much. I saw one lady pour herself a glass, take one sip( I think she thought it was juice) and then walk into the bathroom to dump it out.

Oh well. The next meal I cook for 3 programs( Tues, Wedn and Thur), they're all having the same thing. I got pork butt roasts on sale for 1.99 each. They're already seasoned and I'm going to slow cook them and make some BBQ sauce. I hope they're not too spicy. I'll make potato salad and waldorf salad and corn on the cob. I havent decided on dessert yet.

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It seems that in Canada, most people don't appreciate iced tea made with real tea. If it's not Goodhost, it's just not good...

(FWIW, I love real iced tea, but Goodhost has its place, too.)

I think pineapple upside down cake is a great dessert for pork roast. Whenever I make pulled pork, I like to make pineapple upside down cake.

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