Pleasing a crowd is simple when you opt for casseroles. When you're trying to please a range of ages, from small to tall, include down-home comfort casseroles with basic ingredients and seasonings. Cook casseroles for a crowd and put out a spread that will make them all come running.
Pick a Theme
Many casseroles easily lend themselves to cooking for a crowd. Italian casseroles like baked ziti, lasagna and other pasta dishes can appeal to people of all ages. Mexican casseroles with tortillas and ground beef also have a broad appeal. Keep it American, if you desire, and go for picnic-type sides, such as potato salad, coleslaw and baked beans.
Servings per Casserole
Check your recipes to find the servings per casserole. Once you know how many standard servings a single casserole recipe will provide, multiply this by the number of people you must serve. For example, if a standard pan of lasagna serves 10 to 12 and you're expecting 20, make two pans of lasagna. Because most home cooks don't have extra large baking pans or the oven room to accommodate these pans, baking several smaller pans of the casserole usually works better.
Make Them Ahead
Casseroles can be especially ideal for feeding a crowd because you can often make them ahead, freeze them, then bake them right before serving. As long as you have freezer space, consider making your casseroles about one week before you need them. If you do not have freezer space, make them the day before and refrigerate them until you bake them.
Serving the Casseroles
Serve casseroles warm on a buffet by baking them in pans that will fit into chafing dishes. Insert the pans in the chafing dishes and light them. Or cook casseroles in a slow-cooker, turn the heat down to "warm" and serve them directly from the slow-cooker. Place oven-baked casseroles -- warm out of the oven -- on the buffet table and summon the gang right away before the food cools. Place easy-to-prepare sides where little eaters can reach them. Include crowd-friendly corn on the cob, garlic bread and a green salad with light ranch dressing.
- "Cooking for a Crowd"; Susan Wyler; 2005
- "Desperation Entertaining!"; Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross; 2002
Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.