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Meal for 100+ for $300

I said I would cook for a church dinner, likely to be for 100-125 people, then found out the budget was $300. The dinner doesn't have to be elaborate, and the desserts will be donated, but I'd like to make something substantial, delicious and fun. There will be children and adults present. I was thinking of meatballs, some turkey meatballs stretched with grain, and some veggie balls of some sort involving beans, as the protein, and maybe some sort of potato dish instead of pasta to soak up a good tomato sauce. A chopped salad of whatever is reasonable in the way of produce, maybe one other veggie dish, and foccacia. That's what I was thinking, but I thought I'd toss the idea out here and see what ideas you have. Thanks!

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  1. A lot of people forget that roasts are often the most economical way to feed a crowd. You can often get those giant beef roast on sale for about $30 tha will feed 30-40. Or smoked picnic shoulder. You could cook up the roasts and thinly slice them into those big aluminum pans. Serve with gravy and mashed potatoes, or do the picnic shoulder with biscuits and scalloped potatoes. Any frozen veggies will do for either. Not having to do dessert saves you a lot.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dianne0712

      I will check out prices -- thanks for the tip. It honestly hadn't occurred to me that this might be possible...I don't buy a lot of meat!

    2. I did this for a lot less a few weeks ago- I spent under 200. We had 3 kinds of chili- beef, chicken and veggie- served over rice. There were bowls of taco chips, guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese and salsa on each table. This was lunch but if it had been dinner I would have had a salad too and still come in under $200. I mainly shopped at Costco but also at Whole Foods- the desserts were a pot luck.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Berheenia

        Hmmm...I don't know as I would serve chili, but that's the idea I was kind of starting with -- something flavorful served over something starchy....

      2. 10lb sack of chicken quarters are $6.50 here. Chicken stew served over rice or noodles. Green beans with a bacon vinegar dressing. 2 types of coleslaw for the salad. Vinagrette and mayo. Buy fresh hams and use for chili with plenty of beans for filler. Or veggie chili. Hot dogs and blue box mac and cheese for the kids. Grilled cheese and peanut butter and jelly also.

        1 Reply
        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

          Reading your posts about what is possible, it seems like I might have made some bad assumptions about how far my money would go! So I wonder if I might think a little more upscale...The dinner is a thank you before asking for more money :-), so it should be nicer than average, or so say I.

        2. The most important thing is your choice of protein. I would stick with chicken (under 1$/lb), or pork shoulder (1.29/lb here). I'd do a pernil type roast with the pork, or a chicken stew/chili, and serve it with some rice & beans. Maybe some kale or cabbage on the side. You should be able to do it for 3$ a serving.

          1 Reply
          1. re: joonjoon

            I'm with joonjoon. You can do an awufl lot with a pork shoulder for very little money. Not just barbecue/pulled pork style.

            Because it is a braise, you can do just about any style you want; French, Italian, Thai, Indian, Spanish (pretty much anything except Kosher). And because it's a braise and pork shoulder, it will keep well, reheat well, and not dry out.

          2. I concur with the chicken idea...how about a chicken pot pie? With a nice spinach salad with red onion and oranges or mandarins. Brunswick stew is another option -- delicious stew with okra, lima beans and tomatoes -- I had it for the first time during a high school trip to Williamsburg, it's just delicious and would be a little more unusual/unique. Coq au vin another option that's deeply flavored and can stretch with noodles or redskins. Let us know how you do!