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Dinner for 35 Teens

My church youth group is having a progessive dinner this Saturday. I am in charge of the main course. Spaghetti is out. Any suggestions would be great! Thanks

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  1. Maybe a taco bar or potato bar with variety of toppings?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Val

      That's a great idea. Have shredded chicken in an enchilada-type sauce, ground beef with cumin and chile powder, and beans, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, onions, jalapeno, shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados and an assortment of salsas. Maybe have both hard and soft shells. That would be done all in advance and would likely please a lot of teens.

    2. I love the taco bar idea but if it sounds a bit too messy for you maybe a Mexican casserole like enchilada (or even a Mexican lasagna). It can be assembled in pans the night before and baked off that evening (and kept in a low oven until ready to serve). It also freezes and reheats fine.

      Not sure how adventurous the kids are but you could also do Mexican or Turkish meatballs and leave them in a slowcooker to stay warm and serve over rice. They stay hot forever without drying out which would be a plus for a progressive dinner.

      1. Love the taco bar idea..between getting taco shells, shredded cheese, tomt's and lettuce with some hot sauce and browning some ground beef..they would love it and so easy to do without a lot of prep work..
        Teens love chicken tenders with ranch dressing too..

        3 Replies
        1. re: Beach Chick

          This I have done with great success, a cross between lasagna and tacos as tacos can be so messy.
          Use tortillas, beef or chicken and make a mexican lasagna, it is a sure favorite, just layer what you want between tortillas, no need to be perfect, top it with cheese then once it baked and cooled a bit, add what you wish to, guacamole, sour cream, peppers, chopped tomatoes if you wish, olives and so forth. It is easy to make ahead also and keeps well.

          Good luck!

          1. re: Beach Chick

            I would use tortillas rather than taco shells - less mess, easier to eat.

            1. re: sarah galvin

              I have never used those taco shells myself..I was just thinking of cooking up all those tortillas for 35 hungry kids..
              Makes me want some tacos for dinner..
              Richelle love your blend of tacos and lasagna!

          2. My aunt always fed us sloppy joes when my youth group came over for pool parties.

            How about a BBQ? Potato salad, hot dogs, pasta salad might be fun. Its beginning to feel like spring here in the NE.

            1. I do baked ziti. Tastes great, can be premade, served room temp, no fuss or mess, and kids love it. Garlic bread on the side and you're done. 35 kids? Hmmm, thirty five bottles of soda ( I don't know where they put it.), and small cups because they forget where they put it down. Oh, and don't forget those big black garbage bags...and about four thousand napkins.

              1. For my daughter's youth group we have had fun with crockpots of chili, tortilla chips, hot dogs (so they could make chili dogs if desired).

                We have also done make your own pizza....where they would pair up and put their own sauce and toppings on the dough (you can usually buy dough from a pizzeria if you can't make it from scratch).

                1. Here are a few ideas that can be made ahead....
                  (1) "Big" salad (Ceasar or mixed greens) with strips of chicken or flank steak
                  (2) Chicken Tetrazzini
                  (3) Beef Burgundy (the small amount of wine will be cooked out only leaving flavor)
                  (4) Any numbers of pasta combinations, and can be served warm or cold

                  1. I would buy the big bucket of supermarket fried chicken, add a green salad or potato salad, buy some dinner rolls. Cheapest and easiest way to feed a crowd of kids. I would bake up a good dessert though!

                    1. Buy a case of snack-sized bags of Fritos. Cut the tops off the bags and fill them with a ladle of chili from your crockpot. Top with shredded cheddar cheese. They're called Frito pies and you eat them right out of the bag with a spoon.

                      We always had these in my youth group growing up and we loved them...might be better as a snack than a dinner though.

                      1. I know you said spaghetti is out, but can you do things like fettucine with Alfredo sauce with grilled chicken strips over it? Easy and you can do a jarred sauce. I've done it for teens and they really liked it. You can also try grilled boneless chicken on skewers with a terriyaki sauce, meatballs in a tomato sauce (serve on rolls if spaghetti is out). I like the idea of chicken or beef fajitas as well.

                        1. The taco bar idea is great.

                          Also - pizza bistro. They can make their own, which is perfect for picky teens.

                          All you need is a bowl of sauce, some shredded cheese and a bunch of toppings. As for crust, you COULD make them from scratch, buy dough from a store, or simply buy thick flatbread from a market. You could probably get by with pita bread, but also look for Naan (Indian) - sold at Trader Joes and other smaller markets out west. These latter breads are already cooked but to a soft texture and can handle being baked for another 10-15 minutes - perfect for pizza.

                          These can be cooked indoors or on a grill. In any case, the build-your-own method should please most everyone as they can keep it simple or load theirs with every topping you can think of.

                          1. Whatever you decide, don't forget to include a vegetarian option.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: punkin712

                              I agree; and in general chicken is safer than beef; I know a lot of teenagers who don't eat red meat

                            2. Being the mother of a 17 yr old girl (who has loads of friends), frequently have tons of unexpected teenagers at my house. Absolutely agree on vegetarian option, lots of them won't eat red meat. That said, I make BBQ brisket, which can be made in advance, sliced and frozen and served with buns. You can make this with chicken meat as well. I find kids like options (variety). Would also have a large pan of 4 cheese lasagna or some kind of cheese/pasta option.

                              Hint, if you go with hamburgers and hot dogs, buy some Boca burgers (soy) for the vegetarians. Don't know what weather is like by you, but if grilling is possible, you can do grilled pizza, which kids would really enjoy, be able to participate with. Borrow a couple of grills. You can get pre-made pizza dough, arrange assorted toppings, takes no more than 10 minutes. Add huge salad, brownies, soda maybe some fruit salad and you're done.

                              1. When we cook for a crowd, we sometimes do a soup smorgasbord -- i.e., make a few different varieties of homemade soups -- some with meat and some vegetarian A typical selection might be chili, Mexican chicken soup, and a brocolli vichysoisse. Easy to cook ahead & hold.

                                1. I have done "breakfast for dinner" several time and it has been a big success. Serve pancakes, bacon or sausage or even have cereal as an option for those that may not like pancakes.