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School- 1st Annual Spaghetti Feed-advice?

I searched this site for help on this subject and got alot of reminising about good feeds, but need a little good advice. I don't wan't to overthink this project.

We are sending home a flyer and asking for a RSVP and payment- $6.00 adult, $3.00 kids, with limited tickets available at the door. No family would pay over $25.00. Our school is a K thru 8th grade.

I am basically in charge of the planning and execution of event, and I expect at least 200 tickets to be sold. I want to serve the best possible, yet keep it simple=most enjoyment for the folks eatting. Alot of these folks are health conscious/ make good food choices. I would like to make a profit for our PTA.

I am fretting over my sauce(s), whether to add meat, or make meatballs on the side to add on top when asked for, how best to prepare bread(s), salad ingredients, fruit salad or simple dessert? Should I use whole wheat pasta?

Any advice appreciated.

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  1. I would make meatballs and have them on the side - that way you have a vegetarian marinara and accomdate anyone who might not want the meatballs -

    2 Replies
    1. re: weinstein5

      This site may help. Do a search on spaghetti and any other dish you're interested in. Meatballs on the side sounds logical, and you might want mushrooms to give the sauce some weight.


      1. re: weinstein5

        I would keep the meat on the side for possible vegetarians/picky eaters.

        I might make a simple sauce of sautéed celery carrots and onions, plus garlic. Puree this mixture and add pureed tomato product and tomato juice, spices. Simmer this for 2-3 hours. I would plan on a generous cup of sauce per person.

        I would make small(golf ball) meatballs and bake them. These can finished in a roaster or baking dish with enough sauce to cover, but do not mix the main pot of sauce, so you have a vegetarian option.

        I would serve regular pasta, as the price is cheaper and many people don't like the whole wheat flavor.

        There are 2 possible serving methods for the pasta;

        1.)Par cook the pasta (5 minutes) drain and set aside. You can then bring it back to serving temperature as needed with a pasta insert.

        2.) Boil the pasta and then finish it with the sauce in a serving roaster after it has been cooked for a minute, but it should not be held this way for more then 1 hour.

        I would pre-slice the bread(generic Italian loaf) and heat in a low oven on a foil covered baking sheet. You can serve this on the tables or in the serving line. The butter can be on the table or in sliced pats in the service line. Tongs are needed.

        I would make a generic green tossed salad w/ a optional crudite' plate.

        You can ask for donations of pies, cakes and cookies from parents.

      2. I totally agree, meatballs on the side. Although i almost always use whole wheat pasta, for the masses, i suggest regular, its less expensive, and even the real health nuts, can forgo the ww for one nite, and i still think the majority perfer regular. I enjoy having regular pasta when i go out. As far as bread, i suggest just some nice fresh crusty italian loaves, with an offering of either regular or garlic butter. No toasting not fuss no muss. Salad, simple, maybe a choice, regular tossed, or cesear, again dont go gourmet, i doubt anyone is expecting it. Desserts can be a few large slab cakes, maybe a chocolate and and vanilla, covers most basis there. The one thing you may want to try is to make sure they are peanut free. I was involved in a spaghetti nite when i was in grade school, many moons ago, i remember it like yesterday, so simple and so fun. Have a great time and good luck

        1. I might use Ronzoni half whole wheat pasta but not all ww since many people do not like it and it's much more expensive, since it is a fundraiser and you want to keep your costs down. Costco sells Ronzoni in large packages but I'd probably just use white pasta for the price and it's what most people are used to. A baked ziti would be much easier than spaghetti and sauce--you could do one w/ meat, one w/out. The problem w/ spaghetti is that you'd have to add oil so it doesn't stick and sauce won't stick--plus it's more work to serve. Do garlic bread, wrapped in aluminum foil. Big salad, dressing on the side. Brownies for the dessert would be easy (you can do low fat by using half applesauce--try the King Arthur Whole Grain Cookbook for their brownies--ww costs more than white flour, though). Keep it as simple as possible and make sure everything can be done in advance.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chowser

            Baked spaghetti... easier to serve and tastier imo. Who doesn't love a cheesy meaty scoop of spaghetti or shells???

          2. Thank you all so much!! It is hard sometimes, being a foodie, to remember to keep it simple.

            I happen to have access to a large roaster- perfect for keeping the sauce covered balls warm...That is a great idea.

            The bread options are great too- I wanted to bake and then dunk in garlic'd butter- but not economical/not too healthy- will make a compound mixture that we can spread and then bake into. I may just chose to serve brown and bake rolls too, for the kids who prefer plain bread.

            Baked spaghetti? Wow- great idea. It just so happened I have w/w penne and Hunts mushroom sauce- so I gave it a try this afternoon and par-baked a batch- with smoked mozzarella and a little sharp chedder. I am going to bake it off here in a few- and see how it tastes- and if we like it- I might try and fine tune a baked pasta dish that can be converted to mass production. Baked "spartan" spaghetti sounds great!

            Had a friend suggest that each volunteer that is helping me that night- provide each with a pre-packaged bake yourself goodie- than have them all make and bring night of spaghetti bake and, voila, dessert.

            I knew I could count on the Chowhound crowd.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JalamaMama

              Let me suggest an even simpler way.
              Once upon a time, for several years I was in charge of a college spaghetti dinner for about 150 people. I followed the lead that had evolved over time. We bought frozen quarts of spaghetti sauce from Shoneys. (Throw bricks now, I can practice ducking). It was unremarkable. And in that blandness, was the advantage that nobody hated it. (And you'll be feeding children, so mushrooms are going to be yucky for some.) What I like and what I served are very different,
              A large tossed salad with dressing options (and you can sell unused gallon bags of salad at the end of the day if you over toss.)

            2. I would highly recommend getting your hands on the book "Food for Fifty" by Mary Molt. It's a classic guide that can help with figuring out ingredient quantities, timing for large-scale cooking, etc. The recipes are very simple, nothing fancy, but that may work to your advantage in this case.

              Chances are there's a copy at your local library if you don't want to purchase. Good luck with the fundraiser!

              1 Reply
              1. re: 4Snisl

                I'm just wondering what state you're located in? Our Boy Scout troop is planning it's 1st spaghetti supper and would like more info on how to go about it. We will be having a lot of people in attendance and just need some basics. The ideas you offer here are excellent, but just a little more info for us would be extremely helpful. Thanks!

              2. The Boy Scouts in our area do a spaghetti dinner every year, and they serve about 500 people. They offer a vegetable marinara sauce (nothing too chunky, because almost half the guests are kids), and a meat sauce. They pre-cook a lot of spaghetti, and reheat with boiling water before serving. They charge $7 per adult, and $4 for kids, include a salad, dinner roll and dessert (always pound cake or a brownie) and a beverage of iced tea or lemonade. It's a great neighborhood event, and they make quite a bit of money, because each scout family donates 10 lbs of spaghetti and a pot of sauce from a standard recipe. The desserts are all donated by families, also - prewrapped by the donor.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jeanmarieok

                  DRI NKS!!! Thank you for the reminder- my menu and costs need to be submited by Friday..How funny would that be, nothing to drink!

                  Great idea having individuals donating goods- I am not good at asking already asked out business for donations- our community gives ALOT,and I just can't bring myself to beg for a few pounds of butter! If 5 people bring 10 lb of spaghetti- I can feed 250- going by 1 lb feeds 5 people.

                2. You might do turkey meatballs instead of beef.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Jennalynn

                    Great minds think alike- I was considering this!

                  2. I did a huge write up on our rigatoni dinners just a month or so ago when someone asked for advice...I havent a clue how to search that kind of stuff, but if anyone else is able to, I believe it was in General and regarding some kind of singing group wanting to do fundraising with food.

                    Its pretty extensive and I am pretty successful at it...good luck!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: chelleyd01

                      chelleyd01 Is this the post?


                      PS You can find all your previous posts by clicking on "Hey, chelleyd01" at the very top of the page or clicking on your signature in your post above.

                    2. I did a pasta feed for about 200 pp 3 years ago and it was a lot of work, but very worthwhile. I was lucky enough to get all the product donated: jarred spaghetti sauce, pasta (I think it was fusilli, I don't remember), salad mix, meatballs, and dessert (chocolate mousse cake). I think we had garlic breadsticks as well.

                      The party was in the community room of a local temple which had a kitchen so all the cooking was done there. I borrowed huge pots to boil the pasta and cooked most of it right away. I sauced the meatballs and put them in foil pans, then into the oven to heat. The breadsticks went into the oven as well and then into baskets on the buffet.

                      I borrowed chaffing dishes w/sterno from work (I work for a large catering company, hence the donated product) and bought disposable pans for the pasta and meatballs to minimize the clean-up. I also borrowed large bowls to put the salad in and a small bowl for individual packets of dressing. The mousse cakes went onto large trays.

                      It was extremely helpful to organize volunteers by task--set-up, kitchen help, service, beverages (we had gallons of lemonade [donated] and liters of soda) and clean-up.

                      If you're not hung-up on making everything from scratch, then I recommend you visit your local food warehouse (Costco or Smart & Final) and buy whatever you need there. Keep in mind portion sizes--pasta doubles when cooked, so you only need about 4 oz (dried) per person; about 4-5 meatballs pp, and about 5-6 oz pp of salad. Not everyone has dessert. I had a ton of leftovers and all the volunteers went home with doggy bags, or I should say, doggy-plates.

                      Whatever you do, it's a lot of work (I was bone-tired at the end of the day) but what a wonderful feeling to do something for the organization (my son's high school band program). Good luck and I hope you make a ton of money!

                      1. Does anyone have access to a turkey fryer? Nice way to keep the sauce warm. We made spaghetti on a small scale and had people bring crock pots to keep the meatballs and sauce piping hot. Good luck. PTA is a great group of people.

                        1. And as far as shopping goes, use BJ's, Sam's, Costco, or whatever your favorite/local warehouse club might be.

                          Of course, if you can get donations of food or paper goods from local grocers or food service suppliers, so much the better.

                          1. Our church youth group has spaghetti suppers often and when I have helped out I learned that the leader, a good home cook, uses jarred sauce from Trader Joe's or whatever's on sale - and doctors it up and then adds ground meat, sauteed peppers and onions. Leaves the meat out of one pot for vegetarians.I wouldn't go with whole wheat pasta. Are the kids preparing the meal or just serving it or is this an adult run thing. Ours involved the teens in prep and serving and clean-up, so can't be too complicated. They buy Italian bread, make a green salad and bake brownies from mixes for the dessert. .

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ginnyhw

                              Even more great ideas!!

                              I do plan on purchasing bulk- and will dr up some sauce- I like the idea of pureeing and then sauteing the onion/garlic/veggies/ and adding to sauce.

                              Meatballs will be made and baked.

                              I like the disposible pan idea- though we have an awesome kitchen at our school- all the easier to have rinse and recycle aluminium pans.

                              No kids in the prep- in fact I plan on doing most of the food myself, so it is all done- and then helping on the night of serving and helping where needed.

                              Next is the flyer and the recording of paid people!

                              1. re: JalamaMama

                                Well, thank you to everyone who responded with advice for me, our event was last night! I am pleased to report that we sold our event out, and even made some money!

                                I did all my shopping at our local Smart & Final- and the best deal was 4 lbs of pasta for $2.99..Most expensive item was the cheese of course.

                                We capped our sales to 100 people, and we ended up selling 105 tickets.
                                And made $70.00- which was a bonus.

                                I made hearty meatballs (3- 5lbers of burger/ 3 lbs sausage meat) which I kept in a roaster covered with sauce, and 20 lbs dried pasta/6 #10 cans of doctored up pasta sauce- I made a puree of onion, mushroom and herbs- and mixed it altogether- added about 6 handfuls of cheese per full deep, and volia- dinner.

                                I cut my own 2 green leaf, 2 red oak and 3 iceburg, shredded carrots and red cabbage- it took me 45 minutes just to spin it all. I had many comments on how fresh the salad was- so it was worth the spinning in a home spinner!

                                Used a local company for fresh french baguettes that I toasted and then slathered with fresh made garlic butter.

                                Handed out 6 packs of brownies to 6 moms, and got back 6 trays of yummy goodies, some with nuts, some with powdered sugar, some with M&Ms- a great idea to cover dessert!

                                We had 3 pans of spaghetti left over- but have frozen it for a teachers lunch in 2 weeks- so no $$$ lost on that- thank goodness!

                                This message board is a wonderful resourse that I love to recommend to others!