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What would your back-up plan be?

We're preparing to have a large cookout this weekend and have sent out quite a few invitations. As is regretfully the case these days we haven't had many RSVPs yet. People just don't seem to RSVP anymore...even when the invite specifically requests it. (Where are your manners, people?) This makes it a little difficult to plan how much food to make. We're serving salmon and pork on the grill so I don't want to overshoot by too much lest we spend a lot of money and have a ton of food left over if people don't show up.

So my question to you is this: Should I just plan for full attendance and cook the associated number of portions or undercut, hope that not everyone shows up and have a few nice locally-made brats in the fridge in case we run out of the pork and salmon.

What would you do?

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  1. Brats seems like a good call.
    I, being a nice Jewish girl, would have a ton of food anyway and could easily feed twice the number of people coming... but that's just me.
    Maybe make some grilled veggies or something that can easily be a leftover the next day if you have too much?

    11 Replies
    1. re: laurendlewis

      LOL, nice jewish girl here too and I'd over cook as well.

      However, I also would start making some phonecalls. It would drive me out of my mind not to know how many people to expect. Yes, rude of them not to RSVP however, I'd rather make the calls than wind up with an empty house.

      1. re: sivyaleah

        I should say we HAVE had several RSVPs...but I would say only 50% of the total invitees have responded in some way. So we know there will be at least 30 people. It's the remaining 30 we're wondering about.

        I suppose I could just lay in several more pork tenderloins and freeze them uncooked if we see that the non-responders aren't showing up. Can you freeze marinated meat?

        1. re: HungryLetsEat

          You can freeze marinated meat, but it could be "mushy" on thawing esp. if the marinade includes vinegar.

          1. re: LJS

            No vinegar. Just soy sauce, dijon mustard, lime juice, garlic, ginger and EVOO. Keepin' it simple.

            1. re: HungryLetsEat

              I'd leave out the mustard and lime juice for the ones you might freeze, both are acidic and could "mushify" your food. My suggestion would be to make a marinade with the remaining ingredients and use it on the extra meat you may or may not need. Keep them in the fridge and if it does turn out that you do need just them add the mustard and lime juice and let them sit for 30 minutes to absorb those flavors.

          2. re: HungryLetsEat

            I've frozen marinated meat with good results (beef stew).

            1. re: HungryLetsEat

              Or cook them and send people home w/doggie bags. At my MIL's 85th b-day party, we catered it instead of me cooking (just way too many people) and had so much food left over, that we sent everyone home with nice packages. Good thing we saved all those round, plastic Chinese food divided containers :-) And we still had plenty to freeze for ourselves!

            2. re: sivyaleah

              Apparently being a nice Jewish girl is not far off from being a nice Southern girl when it comes to food. After every party I host, it looks like I could still feed a small village. At Thanksgiving, the number of pies is in the double digits. Even when I try to make less food, I get this compulsion to make "just one more side dish".

              1. re: Honey Bee

                Knowing my Memphis mother-in-law, I don't doubt it!

                But comparing Jewish & non-Jewish weddings/etc, Jewish caterers always bring more food.

                1. re: Honey Bee

                  I was going to post the same thing. I was raised to believe you would rather cut your own throat than run out of food. My 71 year old Mother is COMPELLED to keep cooking stuff. She complains about how tiring Christmas dinner , etc. is on old bones, but she still finishes waht she had planned and then starts making more.

                  1. re: Honey Bee

                    We're Chinese, and my mom always made too much food. I, on the other hand, HATE having food leftover. When I have people over, it's usually really close friends and they overstay (like I invite them to lunch and they are still here at midnight and hungry), so I do run out of food. If my husband had it his way, we would never run out of food either.

              2. Perfectly acceptable to call the 50% that have not RSVP'ed. Just tell them you are finalizing the menu and was hoping they could join you. stay as far away from "we have not heard from you" type lead-ins. Serving for 30 is daunting enough and with the range of 30-60, you better bet a better feel of the task at hand. Remember at a BBQ adding another cup of water to the chicken soup when unexpecteds arrive ain't always an option.

                2 Replies
                1. re: jfood

                  I agree - I'd start doing some emailing/phoning.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    ditto on the start calling

                    and now that I am older, and crabbier, I would not be over cooking.

                2. Another nice Jewish girl who would over-cook, too. I couldn't live with the guilt that someone came to my house and couldn't eat what they wanted to. Whether this is normal or not, I don't know, but so it is. I'd feel awful if a guest was watching others eat salmon, and could have none for him/herself...

                  You can freeze the marinated meat, it shouldn't be a problem. Alternately, maybe you want to go with chicken instead? That way you can cook the whole lot of it and make chicken salad the next day, if need be.

                  1. Like the above 'nice Jewish girls', although I am not a Jewish girl, I too tend to make an over abundance of food.

                    If you've invited sixty and you know thirty are coming I would plan on a generous amount of food for forty five and enjoy your party.

                    1. The RSVP thing is a major pet peeve of mine. What is wrong with people? But that's a whole other topic.

                      I would call them. I am one of those (Jewish girls) who would would have too much food no matter what, but there's a big difference between 30 and 60. Even if you get a few responses, it will help with the planning.

                      And maybe it's me, but I would be completely annoyed at someone who didn't rsvp and then just showed up.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: valerie

                        I know - but those of us who would RSVP to another's party would also expect RSVPs for our own party.
                        These are probably the same people who are stingy and would want to take home a doggie bag after coming without RSVP-ing!

                      2. Split the difference. Cook enough pork and salmon for 30, and have enough extra (unprepared) freezable meat for another 15 people in the fridge - that way when they don't show up you can freeze it, and if they do you can whack it on the grill... (and yes you can freeze marinaded meat just fine...)

                        1. I too provide in excess of my guests...
                          I also know what it's like with RSVPing these days. Recently got married and had to pull teeth just to find out if people were coming - even provided a stamped return envelope, and half my friends didn't even send it back. Damn film people (I am one, so don't take offence). When it came down to the actual week of the wedding, I had to hunt down a few people! Turned out EVERYBODY accepted. (ahh!)
                          Anyway, I digress. If I were you, I would try a few phone calls and emails, but, you'll just have to expect a few last minute changes anyway. Some people who RSVP won't show up and vice versa. I would keep those brats on ice and as mentioned before, prepare 45 generous portions. Also, a few extra salads/apps can make a big difference too.
                          Hope you have a great time!

                          1. yep lots of bad manners around

                            also a nice Jewish girl who over caters, I figure if there is nothing left over I didnt make enough.

                            1. People do not rsvp anymore and it is very rude. Do not even get me started!

                              I'd start calling and emailing -- you may get a better headcount that way, though you may still need to guestimate a bit. You really need to know how much to buy and prepare. 30 unknowns are a lot! Whatever info you can get by calling will be helpful in planning. Sounds like a beautiful BBQ! Enjoy.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Bite Me

                                Oh, and then what about the people who say that they are coming and just don't show up without even calling? It boggles my mind that anyone could be so rude. Once again, a whole other topic!

                                1. re: valerie

                                  It depends on the type of party - if it is a "swing by anytime" kind of situation with a lot of people, I wouldn't care so much. But if it were a dinner for 8 and 2 didn't show.. that's another story.

                              2. I'm outing myself as a geek, but:

                                For my parents' 50th, I put the guest list in excel (116 invitations) and dropped people in columns with percent likelihood to come. 100% = parents and their sibs, 80% close friends and cousins, 60% was the "who knows" category...most people went in there, 30% was the unlikely column for people who lived far away, were in poor health, etc. When all was said and done, my "mathematically" derived estimate came with about 5 of the total (which we believe was in the neighborhood of 75)

                                I don't think that method would work as well with a smaller number of guests, of course.

                                Even though I got about 85% RSVP (bless their hearts), still called many of the "no answers"...mainly because I am obsessive about stuff. I found that those broke down about 50/50 whether they were coming or not.

                                Good luck, and let me know if you need my salmon pattie recipe for leftovers!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: danna

                                  This is how "they" recommend deciding on how many wedding invitations to send out, as well. You can send more invitations out while still likely staying very close to your target number, and not creating the impression that you have A-list guests and B-list guests (who only got invited because the people on the A-list declined).

                                  One thing to keep in mind for a BBQ is that if the forecast is for rain, you've probably got to factor down about 25% of your confirmed attendees and nearly all of your maybes if you still go ahead with your plan. Even if you're clear it's a rain or shine event, a lot of people will say 'Oh, it was raining, I assumed it would be cancelled.' as their excuse for not bothering to show up.

                                2. I have a soon-to-be 14-year-old son. So there's no problem with leftovers going bad at my house.

                                  He is, he will tell you, "in my prime eating years." OH yeah.

                                  1. Send out an email reminding people to RSVP.

                                    1. Thanks for all of your input on this topic. It gave me a knot in my stomach thinking of running out of food. I should have known, though....because I never have run out of food. Here's an update on the actual turn-out.

                                      We ended up having approximately 45 people....30 of which we had been advised would show up. The flaw in my plan was that for some reason I put "RSVP - regrets only" on the invitation. I had forgotten about this detail until my husband happened to be talking to one of our relatives the night before. The relative mentioned they had not called to RSVP because it was "regrets only". Lesson learned there!

                                      Anyway, originally I purchased 16 lbs of protein (8 lbs pork tenderloin and 8 lbs salmon). Based on feedback from all of you I did lay in 4 extra tenderloins just in case. They are now in the freezer as we didn't have to touch them. We had probably 1 tenderloin of cooked pork left over and 3 lbs of salmon. The roasted asparagus was almost all gone, the cold Quinoa salad was half gone (I made a HUGE amount of it) and the panzanella was 3/4 gone. So....we have lots of leftovers.

                                      Who was it that said they had a great salmon patty recipe?? lol

                                      2 Replies
                                        1. re: HungryLetsEat

                                          We've split off a salmon croquette recipe to the Home Cooking board: