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Jul 7, 2011 09:36 AM

Cooking Lunch at Work...for 70

As part of a 'Relay for Life' fundraiser, our work group has decided to make lunch for the office while accepting donations to the cause.

I've been given the task of preparing entrees and the idea of cooking for 70 is more than daunting. Assume I have 1 (maybe 2) beat up gas grills and a regular 4 burner electric stove to work with. I'd love to get ambitious with something like pulled pork (though I would have to do that the night before), but the more I think about it, the more I fear going the burger/dog/brat way will be the most logical route.

Any and all ideas for entree and sides are welcome.


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  1. BigE, don't know where you are located, but i would hope you can do a lot in advance and have good access to refrigeration as well. I personally wouldn't want to grill 200 hot dogs & hamburgers on 1-2 grills. Also, a lot more people are vegan/vegetarian these days.

    Assuming you have the refrigeration capabilities, how about a Mexican themed lunch? You can do soft tacos (or hard), a queso dip, nacho platters. You can prepare the meat & chicken mixtures on the grill and also have refried beans, cheese, jalapenos, tomatoes, onions, avocadoes, sour cream, etc that will satisfy the meatless eaters. A nice grillled corn, tomato and black bean salad with lime cilantro dressing would be a terrific side as well as room temp rice. I would go with a cookie assortment of lemon bars, shortbread, etc. for dessert and a big fruit salad in a couple of watermelon boats. If interested, let me know, can provide recipes.

    1. If you do pulled pork sandwiches, with cole slaw, you'd be surprised at how little pulled pork you need. You could make it in advance, in the oven, on aluminum pans, and then reheat on pans. Bring tongs for people to serve easily. Use smaller buns. Crock pots would also help.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chowser

        Pulled pork was my first idea for a group this size. I could do it the day before, shred and store in disposable trays, but I worry how much pork I'll actually need.

        Also, I don't want to pigeon hole the entire group with one type of meat.

        For cooking/storage, assume I have:

        -1 or 2 crappy grills
        -1 stove/oven
        -2 refrigerators (probably 90+% full)
        -Access to various crock pots/slow cookers

        I like the taco bar idea too...

      2. Agree with D in B that a vegetarian option would be a good idea and this one is do-ahead. Individual layered sandwiches with roasted red peppers, cheeses, basil pesto, tomato slices, lettuce, avocado, maybe tapenade, a few chick peas or black beans, or any combination thereof. Wrap individually in plastic and weight in the fridge overnight. Serve room temp. Use a decent roll and save what you pull out for crumbs and make --

        -- meatballs for meatball subs. I don't cook beef, so I'll let those who do advise you on beef meatballs, but I do chicken meatballs in the pressure cooker after browning. Meatballs can be done ahead and reheated in pots of sauce on your stove top.

        I hope you have many hands to help! Best of luck on the fundraiser.

        1. I'm with Diane Bexley, a Mexican themed lunch would be my first choice but here's some ideas.

          I didn't make this but it was very good. Made with pork butt and a dish you don't have to babysit so much. (we had a summer party at work and this one person made this and it was terrific).
          Kaluha Pork. Pork butt with a simple procedure of liquid smoke, salt, and wrapped in banana leaves and then foil. Several crock pots or one of those big roasters (they've been around for years. Put them in there to keep warm. Perhaps you can borrow a couple, or you know a person with a large roaster. Served on white rice or in lettuce leaves with sauce for a lighter version. See this.

          Fresh corn on sticks. - corn cobbies, either cut it half or smaller. Make a butter with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper, finely chopped cilantro, and a dry crumble of Cotija cheese. By using the shorter wooden skewers, makes it easy to handle.
          The corn is satisfying, and would be good with Pork Colorado burritos, black beans, Mexican red rice. I'm not great at veggie ideas, I like what they said though.
          I recently saw the cutest drink dispenser that wasn't glass at Costco (although it looks like glass) where you could make a wonderful drink of Hibiscus tea.

          1. I spent the last 4 days making lunch for 85 inner city campers and staff and we made the food the night before and served it in a church basement with minimal facilities, We were not allowed to serve pork, peanuts, nuts, chips or soda,
            The easiest meal was sandwiches (turkey and cheese variations) which we assembled the night before and served with condiments (mayo, mustard) with veggie trays and brownies from Costco.

            More ambitious was tacos. I cooked 18 lbs of burger and used a recipe from Really Simple and the tacos were filled on site and served with condiments (lettuce, cheese, tomato, salsas).
            There was a vegetarian option using veggie burgers and refried beans for the filling. Watermelon dessert.

            Costco or BJ's really are your best resource for this type of cooking. We bought large boxes of gogurts which need refrigeration, and individual applesauce and pudding cups which are stored ambient.

            Meatball sandwiches also work well for this kind of mass meal. If you decide to grill consider using kielbasa, veggie burgers and other pre-cooked meats so you don't have to deal with raw meat for 80.

            Good luck!