Although cooking for a group of 50 kids will require a little more preparation time than whipping up a meal for your family of four, it can still be a fairly simple task. Knowing how much you'll need of each ingredient you plan to use will help you to avoid a last-minute run to the grocery store. To save money and time, buy foods in bulk or items packed in multiples at warehouse clubs or discount stores.
Pasta and Noodles
Most kids like macaroni and cheese, so bake it in several large pans. Boil a bunch of hot dogs and corn on the cob to complete the meal. Spaghetti is another kid pleaser; add ground turkey, green peppers and carrots to the sauce. Spread white or whole-wheat bread slices with butter or margarine seasoned lightly with garlic powder and bake them in the oven. For a simple pasta meal, cook egg noodles and serve them lightly buttered or seasoned with ranch dressing. Add oven-baked hamburgers or turkey burgers and steamed green beans.
Rather than preparing individual sandwiches for a group of 50 kids, buy flatbreads such as large pitas and split them in half. Spread fillings on one half, such as chicken or tuna salad, peanut butter and jelly, or cream cheese and jelly. Or add deli meats, cheeses, shredded lettuce and tomato slices to one half. Spread the remaining halves with a creamy dressing. Put the halves together and slice the flatbread into sections.
If you're cooking for a large group of kids in the winter, warm them up with soup. Make an easy chicken-noodle soup using canned chicken, chicken broth, celery, carrots and egg noodles. Serve it with soft rolls. Or cook up a batch of chili, adding green peppers and diced tomatoes to the beans, meat and tomato sauce. Bake corn muffins in mini muffin pans to accompany the chili, or cook elbow macaroni and top it with chili.
One-dish meals are the simplest to prepare, and they make cleaning up easy. Bake white potatoes and stuff them with cheese and steamed broccoli, then put them back into the oven to melt the cheese. Combine meat, potatoes and vegetables, using ham or chicken cubes, ground turkey or ground beef with thawed frozen hash browns, shoestring french fries, sliced sweet potatoes or white potato wedges. Add green beans, baby carrots, creamed corn, frozen peas or broccoli in any combination. Top with cream of celery, cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup and bake.
Eggs are easy to cook and can be used as a main dish or a side. Make a breakfast for any meal with scrambled eggs, brown-and-serve sausage, turkey bacon or ham and biscuits. Add slices of cheese and let the kids make sandwiches. For a lunchtime meal, make omelets with green peppers, onions and ham cubes. Pour the egg mixture into large baking pans and bake them in the oven. For dinner, make plain baked-egg bases in large pans and top them with steamed broccoli, chicken slices and Swiss cheese. Return the pans to the oven to melt the cheese.
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