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Help, I'm feeding 60 people

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Please give me some suggestions on feeding 60 people at my home. This is an engagement party (very casual) for my daughter and her fiance. I am on a very tight budget so I am planning to barbeque hamburgers and hotdogs. I will also make salads i.e. pasta, potato, fruit. How do I even begin to calculate how much to make for 60 people. Can anyone give me any suggestions of how to handle such a large crowd as far as food is concerned. Thank you!

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  1. Nearby to where I live is a meat wholesaler that operates a retail space next to their warehouse. They have bulk boxes of hamburger patties and hotdogs as well as a large assortment of other items. For pasta salad I usually make about a pound of pasta for every 6 adults, seeing as it is a side. The more sides you add the more you can gently decrease the quantities.
    For the cooking, ask friends and neighbors if they have grills to borrow. Given that it is an engagement party, what better way for the men of the families to get to know each other than standing over grilling meat.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Lenox637

      Thank you so much for all your great suggestions. This is my first time at this site and I am so pleased with the responses I have received. I'll check into a meat wholesaler, but if that doesn't work I will try Costco. Also, I appreciate your pasta salad numbers. I have a dear friend who said he would grill but I am sure other men will join in, like you said.
      Thank you again Lenox637 for taking the time to reply.

      1. re: skit

        I've been assigned to shopping for and cooking at a church school picnic that involves similar number of people and your same menu for about 10 years and I can't say enough good about Costco! We have tried local supermarkets and small mom and pop grocery stores (sadly no longer in business) and Costco. Costco has the best quality and prices for the burgers (frozen), dogs (in a box), and rolls for both. You might want to check out their red bliss potato salad, it's good (but I'd rather make my own.) I'd also suggest saving money by not having an expensive fruit salad and go with a platter of fresh sliced tomatoes, red onions and lettuce to garnish the burgers or plates with. We have also learned you can never have enough pickles and chips- also bargains at Costco
        What are you serving the vegetarians? Ours like Boca Burgers and we try to make a large meatless chile or cowboy beans as a side dish- drop dead easy and cheap and delicious.
        Sounds like a fun party

        1. re: ginnyhw

          Boca burgers are a great idea. Just make sure to keep them on a separate grill, since a lot of veggies won't eat them if they're cooked with the meat. or you can grill them on foil. Another tip- keep the (empty) boca box out near the grill in full view. That way everyone knows they're available, and no one has to feel awkward asking for a veggie burger.

    2. I made this recipe for Three-Cheese Spaghetti Pie for a Christmas lunch, and it fed about 20 people who were taking smallish portions. The baked pie refrigerated great, and it was very good served at room temperature. I thought the pie was easy to make; it was popular enough that people wanted the recipe; I think a few of these could help you out at the engagement party.


      1 Reply
      1. re: ChesterhillGirl

        Thank you for the suggestion. I have bookmarked the site and will definitely give it some consideration. I appreciate you taking the time to respond, ChesterhillGirl!

      2. Lots of people will have a hotdog and a hamburger, some will eat the hotdogs off the grill, so I'd have plenty of those. They're cheap and they freeze well. Probably 90 burgers and an extra package available. Freeze all leftovers. Three fruit trays, a 10 lb. bag of potatoes for salad should be enough with the other salads. Don't forget a huge platter or two of condiments and hamburger makings. Good luck!

        1. http://www.50plusfriends.com/COOKBOOK...

          That's a link to a site where you will find sugestions and recipes for dishes which will feed 50 people and more..... a large assortment of Apps, Mains, Salads, Sides, etc. Also: A guide for buying in bulk.
          Have fun!!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Gio

            What a great site, Gio! I see that there is a recipe for "Maine" potato salad. Might have to make that since my daughter's fiancee's family is from Maine! I appreciate you taking the time to respond, Gio! I'm excited to go into the site and explore my options!

            1. re: skit

              skit - you'll continue to love this site - it's the only one I contribute to - feel comfortable contributing to - these chowhounds are THE BEST!

          2. I agree to plan for a burger and a dog for each person with some extrasn and second the urging of lots of condiments and "fixings". Then pretty much think about how much one person would eat if they ate some of everything (maybe 4 oz each of potato salad, pasta salad and fruit salad -- are you having anything else?) and multiply by how many people will be there. Not everyone will actually have everything but it will even out over 60 people. I can't urge you strongly enough to farm out some of the salads to anyone who offers to help. Even if you have 5 people making potato salad and they are all different, that's a good thing! Great suggestion about borrowing friends' or neighbors' grills; you will also need to "borrow" some fridge space to store food for 60 but people are happy to help with that in my experience. Think ahead about bowls for all those salads and borrow some of those too if you need to.

            1 Reply
            1. re: GretchenS

              I like your idea about "farming out" to some close friends. I believe this is what I might need to do. I have some great friends and I don't think they will mind. I appreciate you taking the time to respond, GretchenS. You have some great suggestions!

            2. For the potato salad, you're going to need 12-14 lbs of potatoes. No matter what other food might be there, people love potato salad. It will go.
              No matter how much people say they love fruit salad, I've never seen it wiped out at a party - Never. Not in the last 30 years. Not in the last two weeks. Even if it's in a hollowed-out, lovingly fluted watermelon - it still gets only token scoops with the serving spoon. Make half as much as you think you'll need, unless you love having leftover fruit salad around for a week.

              As to logistics, set up at least two different tables with the plates, then the salads, and finally the forks, knives, and napkins, so people can pick up what they need before they approach the grills for their burgers and hotdogs. A smaller table (or tables) to the sides of the grills to hold toppings and condiments. Different "stations" will prevent logjams and encourage mingling. :)

              Set up at least two different tables for the beverages also, and get (or borrow) a couple of Big coolers to hold all the ice you're going to need; figure on one pound per person.

              3 Replies
              1. re: mcsheridan

                Thank you so much for your great reply, mcsheridan! The logistics are great and will be implemented! I especially like the different "stations". I'm getting excited now that I have these great suggestions.

                1. re: skit

                  Instead of setting out separate baskets with forks, knives, spoons, and napkins- wrap a set of utensils in each napkin. Tie with a fancy ribbon- maybe printed with the couple's name. It keeps everyone from holding too many things at once.

                  Also, for condiments, think beyond basics. A friend of mine puts out horesradish ketchup, several types of mustard, and homemade relish. Even if you're just mixing together a few ingredients, it really looks great.

                  1. re: cheesecake17

                    Love the napkin idea with the ribbon. Awwww

              2. As a Personal Chef I do these size of events all the time. Last one was day before yesterday! With only two proteins (burgers & dogs), figure only 50 quarter pound burgers and 2 packages of hot dogs.

                Make Potato Salad based on 10 pounds of potatoes, a dozen hardboiled eggs, 4 sticks celery,...

                Pasta Salad based on 4 boxes of ziti, 2 pounds of diced ham, 4 bell peppers, 4 sticks of celery, whatever else you normally use.

                For Fruit Salad, Buy a largish watermelon, cut in half the long way. Melon ball both halves of the melon, shave the shells. Add a couple pounds of grapes, a balled cantalope, a whole pineapple cubed, fresh hulled strawberries. Toss the fruit together chill. Then 'plate' the fruit in the melon shells and top dress with a quart of fruity yoghurt.

                Buy 10 bags of assorted Chips and about 3 quarts of assorted dips.

                For a veggie plate, buy a large jar of green olives and 2 or 3 cans of black; 1 jar of cornichons or finger pickles, a head of celery,a bag of mini carrots, a head of cauliflower on two of broccoli. A large bottle of Ranch dressing and at least one other bottle of a favorite salad dressing.

                1 Reply
                1. re: KiltedCook

                  See, I'd die with only 50 burgers! I've catered these things too and I'd rather have leftovers to freeze than be short even one hamburger or hot dog. But that's just my insecurity, I imagine.

                2. Start grilling the burgers and dogs before the party and keep them warm in the oven. Otherwise you will have trouble keeping up with the masses. Have fun!

                  1. You have a son who is a freshman at LSU. If there are going to be a lot of people his age, I'd plan on 100 burgers and 100 dogs for the 60 people and plenty of potato salad and pasta salad.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Sam is so right! And about 30 lbs of potato salad, because mcsheridan is also right, people devour it, I wasn't thinking properly when I posted earlier. But that is assuming lots of young, big eaters.

                      1. re: GretchenS

                        This party is screaming for a couple of big lasagnas. Do ahead and heat up.

                        1. re: GretchenS

                          Indeed! I wasn't figuring on LSU bellies...20-25 lbs. of tater salad is a much better idea (and once again, it screams for division of labor!)

                        2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          Sam's right - see what I'm sayin'!!?

                        3. Our Costco has the most amazing marinated pollo asado, that is also inexpensive. They also have prepared guacamole, salsa and shredded cheese. We did it for a party the other night. You can grill it our cook it in the oven, you could have a taco bar.

                          We are i San DIego and another idea would be to have taquria set up at your house.

                          If you are using Costco, they have great burgers. I would do 1 burger per person. Younger people would probably want hot dogs. Please have plenty of ice on hand to keep your salads cold. 90 people could mean a lot of mayo/egg based products.

                          Sostco also has great roasted chicken for 5 each. You might want to have a few of those on hand, in case you have a non-beef eater.

                          I would guess a cup of salad per person. You might want to size a plate and estimate quantity's.

                          1. lean on your good friends-- ask them to take a recipe or two, or to help serve & clean up the party. make a large potato salad and a much smaller fruit salad. make 2 different pasta salads using 2 lbs pasta shapes for each one. make some coleslaw or another (cheap) cabbage-based salad, and/or a grain-based (rice, quinoa, barley) salad-- more selections will look bountiful but people will only sample a small amount of each side dish, so your budget won't be too stretched. put out different kinds of pickles, and consider chips/dip/salsa. you don't mention dessert-- will there be a cake? if not, ask some of your wonderful friends to contribute homemade cookies & bars.

                            setup: lay out one buffet table with all of the salads ***that is accessible from both/all sides*** so that people can help themselves to seconds and your helpers can refill easily. a one-sided, one direction buffet does not work when you have 60 people, please don't make this common mistake!!! have the platters of grilled burgers and dogs, with all the fixin's, on a separate table, close to the grills if possible. have beverages, ice, etc on a third table. if you are serving dessert/coffee, this can go on, yes, a fourth table (borrow these tables from friends, community center, church). the separate areas will encourage your guests to circulate and mingle, and to move on to second courses, dessert, etc at their own pace. remember that you as the parent of the bride are not only the host of the party, but an important guest. rely on other family members & friends to help you out with the party, so you can get out of the kitchen and enjoy the engagement party :)

                            1. One thing I've found when grilling for a crowd is that you run out of real estate very quickly. Consider getting a five to six foot long flatbed grill from a party rental place. It should be around fifty bucks for the day; IMHO money well spent.

                              As to the meat, the rule of thumb is 8 ounces per person. Since people tend to eat more when they have options, I'd go with about 20 pounds each of burgers and hot dogs. More (much more) if the groom's football teammates comprise a significant part of the guest list, less if the list is dominated by elderly aunts.

                              With starchy salads, the general rule is 4 ounces per person. If you were just doing potato salad, I'd say 15 pounds of potatoes would probably do the trick. Since you've got pasta salad, too, you can probably reduce that amount somewhat. But again, people with options will eat more, so maybe 10 pounds of potatoes and 5 pounds of dry pasta.

                              Back to the cookware - for cooking large quantities of pasta, potatoes, eggs, etc., a turkey frying rig is a huge help. If you don't have one, someone you know probably does. The burner has many, many times the output of your stove, the 30-quart or so pot will let you cook big batches, and best of all it's an outdoor appliance - keep the mess and the steam out of the house.

                              Good luck!

                              1. I think grilling for 60 people is going to be a big pain. Also, as someone else said, how big is your grill? Are you the only one grilling? You will not enjoy the party at all. I still think you should change the whole plan and go the lasagna and salads route. Also get a big spiral cut baked ham or hams (in the supermarket, not a ham store). They don't cost that much for all the servings you get. Buy rolls so people can make ham sandwiches. This is all do-ahead and everything will go much more smoothly and you will enjoy yourself more. If grilling, you never get done. Not everybody eats at the same time and people need seconds. If you do too much grilling ahead you get cold, congealing burgers.