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Jul 5, 2013 09:46 AM

Tired of ordering pizza!! Ideas for Easy lunch party for 50?

Party menu ideas needed!! We usually order pizza, but we (and our guests) are tired of the pizza party.

I did carnitas tacos a couple of years ago & it was a huge hit thanks to you Chowhounders! Guests were impressed & so was I. Looking for more ideas...

Here are some details about the party:

* I am a novice (and I do mean NOVICE) cook- so easy, fool proof dishes that don't take a lot of time to make. I'm thinking oven cooking might be easiest??

* We're having about 40-50 people to our house. About 30 adults, 20 kids: 9 months - 8 years old).

* I work & have 2 little ones so I don't have much time to prep & cook- just cleaning the house is a huge chore.

* This will be for my 2 year old's birthday, so we'll have cake, lunch and drinks. Starts at 11am so a few appetizers but focused on the entree.

* Prefer inexpensive without seeming cheap. Is that an oxymoron? Preferably not sandwiches since there isn't much "wow" factor- and I'm tired of sandwiches because we eat those a lot at home & so do our guests with little ones.

* It's summer so chili probably won't work - and kids don't like spicy & people will remember the pulled pork from last time (the only time I cooked for a party)

* Prefer to make it the day before & put it in the fridge to reheat in the oven

* We don't have cooking tools for large portions - a small crockpot, we can buy pan liners to cook in the oven.

* No nuts since we have a lot of nut allergies. This includes pesto, and in salads too.

* will probably have a salad, but the last time I brought a green salad to a party (cucumbers, tomatoes, craisins, & romaine lettuce) no one touched it! My husband thought it was because we got there late, but I have my doubts. They liked the orzo & kale salad (something different- most had never had it including me). Is orzo inexpensive, easy to make? Kale seems like a lot of work to prep?

I know it sounds like a tough order to fill but I welcome any and all suggestions even if they don't fit everything I wanted. Just my "wish list".

Thank you!!

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  1. Since I do not know where you live it is difficult to know what to suggest. If you live in an area where there's a Primo's Hoagies (NJ, Delaware, Philly), order several large ones. One can slice each large hoagie into about 6 smaller ones and still have plenty to eat. During my 40+ years living in the Philly area, Primos are the best, and they are generously filled.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ChiliDude

      I was going to suggest a 6 foot subs...

        1. re: MidwesternerTT

          I know about the no sandwiches, but I was kind of thinking that a 6-ft sub was a departure from the traditional sandwich/wrap circular platter...

    2. Baked potato bar so guest can make it their way. Spaghetti and meatballs (make your own, or not), garlic bread, and Caesar salad. Baked ravioli With store bought ravioli, Red sauce (yours, or not), shredded mozzarella, and grated parmesan. Layer in pan sauce, ravioli, parmesan, mozzarella sauce. Repeat if pan is tall enough.

      1. Chicago-style beef sandwiches? I see you'd prefer not to do sandwiches, but this is a little different take on meat between bread than a cold cut tray and potato buns.

        The day before, roast a large piece of top round with a bottle of red wine. Rub the round with salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and lots of granulated garlic / garlic powder. Cook until medium rare (hard to say how long, as it depends on the size and shape of your round). Wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight. Save the jus.

        Next day, slice the round as thin as you can, and reheat the jus. Put some of the jus in the crockpot for dipping, and then reaheat the meat in the barely simmering large pan of jus.

        Use a very crusty and glutenous Italian bread, or a similar French bread. Have giardiniera / pickled mixed vegetables on hand, as well as provolone cheese, and sauteed green peppers for toppings. Sandwich can be served as-is with toppings, or dunked in reserved jus.

        1. Orzo is just a pasta, should be inexpensive. I like orzo salad with peppers, tomatoes and feta. Add in dressing and maybe fresh herbs. kale would require cutting and blanching.

          what about a pasta bake of some kind? either stuffed shells, or even just a penne with meat/tomato sauce covered in cheese. Or a large mac and cheese, but could get pricey with all the cheese required but can beef it up with sausage or bacon. I would serve these with garlic bread and caesar salad.

          Another option would be a jambalaya (a cheaters version, maybe no shrimp for price, no spice for kids)

          I know you said no sandwiches, but you could do a philly cheese steak bar. cook and slice your meat the day before, saute all the peppers and onions and place on top of meat in large tray. Heat up day of with all the cheese on top. People come along and grab bun and place meat/veg cheese on top. Along this note you could do a sausage bake with peppers and onions and potatoes. Just reheat and serve.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cleopatra999

            I've done this Jambalaya for a crowd before. You can sub the equivalent weight of ham for the Andouille. If you've got enough time between now & then, troll the supermarket ads until you find shrimp frozen on sale. Even just a half pound per recipe would be enough. Same with the ham (and even canned tomatoes): it keeps a long time if it's vacuum sealed, so you can just keep watching the ads to see if you can find it on sale.


            Since you're concerned about spice, maybe use the "mild" instead of the "original" mix.

            I also like to double the amount of bell peppers, just because I like a lot of veggies.

            I've never tried to reheat it in the oven before, but I'm sure you could. I always reheat on the stove top.

            I like orzo, but I'll admit it often clumps on me if I try to make it in advance. Also, I wouldn't pair orzo salad if you end up serving jambalaya as your main. Even though orzo is a pasta, and not a rice, it does seem very rice like.

            How about this corn and black beans recipe for your salad? Sunflower seeds are not a tree nut but still provide that nutty crunch.

            Happy birthday to your two year old!


            1. re: cleopatra999

              Kale does not have to be is very tasty raw

            2. How about a brunch? I have a great recipe for a crustless quiche. It's extremely easy, the veg and/or meat components can be varied, and it can be baked off in disposable 9X13 inch foil pans. It can even be done the day before, cut when cooled, and reheated the day of the party. Along with that, I'd serve some mini croissants, bagels (minis for the kids), flavored and plain cream cheese, a fresh fruit tray with cut-up, bite sized pieces, and a pasta, rice, or mixed green salad. A cheese tray can also be added. Pretty much all of it can be done in advance.