Preparing dinner for a larger number of people is a considerably more daunting task than preparing dinner for a family of four. So instead of trying to wow your guests with your culinary prowess, stick with an easy dinner option that you know will taste good, but which requires a minimal effort. After all, if you are hosting a large group, you’ll want to be able to interact with your guests and not have to constantly run back and forth from the kitchen. Enlist your children's aid in prepping the food to make the dinner a group effort.
Before you serve up the main course, put out some simple appetizers that guests can pick up with toothpicks or with their fingers. Serving appetizers that require dishware and utensils will make cleaning up more difficult. Meatballs, such as Italian cocktail meatballs with ricotta and herbs or sweet and sour meatballs that have been stewing in grape jelly and chili sauce are possible options. And while making meatballs from scratch -- by mushing together ground meat, egg and bread crumbs -- is a simple-enough process, you can also buy frozen meatballs for added simplicity. Another easy appetizer idea for a lot of people is to serve antipasti. Just set out an assortment of olives, cheeses, sliced deli meats and peppers and let your guests dive in.
Pile on the Pasta
Pull out the biggest pot you have, boil several boxes of your favorite type of pasta, and a dinner for a crowd is just about ready. Instead of making sauce from scratch, adorn the pasta with store-bought sauce. Some options include serving fettuccine with a white Alfredo sauce, spaghetti with a red tomato sauce or macaroni with a cheese sauce. Add a side salad with creamy dressing and the meal is complete.
Crazy for Casseroles
If cooking pasta in one pot and heating up sauce in another pot is too much work for you, consider the casserole: a one-dish wonder that can feed a crowd. Making a casserole is as simple as filling a large glass or earthenware dish with your favorite ingredients, putting on the dish’s cover and popping it in the oven. Some dinner ideas include a broccoli, cheese and rice casserole; a zucchini and red pepper aioli casserole; a squash and rice casserole; and a turkey and mushroom casserole.
From the Slow Cooker
As with a casserole, a slow cooker meal is a simple, one-dish option for feeding lots of people. A slow cooker is an electric, counter-top cooking pot that cooks foods at low temperatures. The night before -- or the morning of -- your dinner, you can load the slow cooker with ingredients, put on the cover and forget about it, without fear of burning. Some slow cooker dinner options include making a hearty stew with potatoes, carrots, beef and stock; or making pulled-pork by slow-cooking a pork shoulder in broth and then cutting the meat into shreds. You can serve pulled-pork in buns or wraps.
Erik Devaney is a writing professional specializing in health and science topics. His work has been featured on various websites. Devaney attended McGill University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in humanistic studies.