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Oct 12, 2009 05:26 PM

recipes for cooking for a group of 20-25 people (mostly teens)??

Hello! We are going to be hosting a group of 20-25 people on a monthly basis, most of whom are teens.

Any ideas on recipes for dinner on a budget would be most appreciated. I've already purchased about 5 lbs of ground beef for this month's dinner so if you have ideas on using this meat, that would be really helpful. I was thinking of a taco bar to start off this month.

But any other ideas for future months would be great too.


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  1. the taco bar is a great idea. you could also do a burger or slider (mini-burger) bar or a chili bar (or just make chili). sloppy joes and lasagna are two other budget-friendly ideas for ground beef.

    for future dinners, if you want to continue with the participatory theme you can try a fajita bar, a baked potato bar, a grilled cheese or panini bar...and there's always a toss-your-own salad bar.

    other group- and budget-friendly ideas:
    - egg dishes (strata/frittata)
    - potato gratin
    - tamales
    - quesadillas & enchiladas
    - mac & cheese

    6 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      Tamales for 25... you are a braver woman than I! (I tend to make about 2 dozen at a time, it seems to be my limit. LOL)

      Ditto to Cherylptw - I get in a flow well enough when I make three pizzas for five people in my home, but even then, it's only with a rum and coke or nice pinot noir at hand. I get STRESSED when I do pizza!

      1. re: shanagain

        the tamales are a bit of a chore, but once i get going i can just keep banging them out. they're just really convenient for feeding a large crowd since they're already portioned muss, no fuss. well, not for the diners, anyway ;)

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Seriously, I bow down to you. (And... I must have tamales. I can tell what my weekend project will be!)

        2. re: shanagain

          BAKED Tamales Gigantea are easy to make and have all the flavor of the steamed variety without all the hassle. You can use a long loaf pan as a kind of mold, or just roll it up.

          Soak a bunch of corn husks. Make up about 4 cups worth of filling goodies - frijoles, shredded meat, cheese, sauce. Make up your batter - about 4 cups of masa worth. Roll out a 30" or longer piece of heavy aluminum foil left to right on the counter. Lay out the corn husks, overlapping, up and down on the foil. With a spatula, spread the masa about 1/2 thick all over the corn husks you'll have a rectangle of masa about 24" wide and 16" 'tall'. Mound your fillings down the center, about 3" high, all the way to the ends of the dough. Gently pick up the near edge of the foil and "jelly roll" the flap of dough and husks ( but not foil) onto the mounded fillings. Repeat with the far side and seal the edge. Now wrap completely in foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake at 400F for about an hour.

          1. re: KiltedCook

            *love* this solution. thanks so much for posting it!

      2. You can do pasta with meatballs in a large casserole, a shepard's pie or individual meatloaves (maybe in muffin or small loaf pans) which will be fairly easy. Another option is empanadas...any of these can be served with a salad & you're set. I do a cheese stuffed meatball, using cream cheese & smoked gouda, but you can use any firm cheese to roll the meat around; which can be served with pasta or just with sauce and a side; always well received.

        My boys (now men) always wanted a birthday dinner to include all of their friends (which were a lot). I made homemade pizzas a few times that everyone loved. I made my dough and sauce from scratch (which was way cheaper for me, plus it was so much better). You could make individual or just larger size crusts ahead; I have a freezer so I made my dough, rolled it out, and froze until needed. I used different toppings so there was something for everyone. Making dough from scratch is so affordable for large crowds and not complicated at all.

        You could cook them on a grill (YES, even in winter) or oven. Home baked pot pies are also a good choice....

        1. If you're doing tacos, I'd recommend stretching out that meat a bit with lentils. (Say what you will about allrecipes, but the lentil taco recipe is a fantastic use for lentils I'd not have thought of - google/search it.) IME with my son's football team, 5lbs isn't going to go very far if you're letting them DIY - they'll skip the fillers and knock out the meat and cheese.

          When we do team meetings, some of the things that always go over well are any kind of pasta dish - they won't be picky about little/no meat in a huge tray of ziti w/salad and bread on the side, and it's easier and less expensive than most casserole type dishes.

          King Ranch Chicken would be a good casserole type, also - just use leg quarters.

          Another we've done is "Taco Soup" - yes, when you google it, it's going to sound like a trailerpark potluck special - but it's seriously tasty with a bit of cheese and sour cream per bowl on a cold day.

          If you've noticed, my trend is actually to make huge quantities of things that don't require a lot of cleanup on your part if you use disposable foil lasagne pans, paper plates or bowls, etc. And casseroles are awesome because you can tackle them in stages beforehand, and freeze along the way w/out the finished product suffering.

          (I say all of this after being volunteered - today - to make a gazillion sausage balls for a homecoming "b'fast w/mom" on Wednesday. Our motto with the boys is generally KISS - even the most finicky will generally enjoy massive quantities of anything resembling non-tuna casserole. Heavy on the massive quantities - even for girls.)

          2 Replies
          1. re: shanagain

            i agree that 5lbs for tacos is light for teenagers...they eat a lot!

            1. re: LaLa

              if you want to stretch the meat without stretching the wallet, try adding some TVP to the ground meat... it has a good meaty texture and will take on the meaty flavor.

          2. I do a lot of tem dinner too-- and here are some that go over great:
            taco bar
            baked potato bar with all the fixings
            subs-- have some meat and cheese and tons of toppings-- subway style
            pasta bar- a la Olive Garden-- 3 kinds of pasta and 3 sauces, etc

            remember this is the time to use paper plates and do everyting you can to make clen up easy!

            1. agree with those who said 5 lbs of beef isn't all that much for 25 kids. cooked off, it will be less than 3 oz. per person. pizzas or baked ziti will help you stretch it reasonably though. chili with cornbread would be great too.

              i'm not a fan of taco bars or anything where people get "fixins". only a few people get through the line and the table looks like a bomb hit it.

              lasagne, pot pie, quiche with salad, pre-cut sandwiches with different fillings (include some veggie options like hummus) taco pie, chowder...

              breakfast for dinner could work too: scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, veggie stratas.