Dinner for 10-12: for 5 days.
April 13, 2014 2:06 PM   Subscribe

I have family coming in for a funeral this week. Our house is the hub, so I'm going to be feeding a group of 10-12 for 5 days. Any thoughts on comforting foods, that are relatively easy to prepare for that many? I am a good cook, but will have to spend some time at work this week, so I won't have tons of time to devote to this.
posted by sarajane to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
A large tray of lasagna is great for a group that size, a traditional comfort food, and rather easy to make. You can use noodles that don't require pre-boiling. Either use a sauce you like, or make a simple recipe at home (can be done ahead of time, frozen in batches, maybe used for spaghetti a few nights later). I use this as a template, but make my own sauce.
posted by raztaj at 2:17 PM on April 13, 2014 [7 favorites]

Two of the best things people brought after my grandpa died were a huge Bundt cake and a big tray of sliced fruits and veggies.
posted by mynameisluka at 2:20 PM on April 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

One of my aunts made a large pot of Minestrone soup when my grandfather died. You can get a lot of the vegetables pre-cut and just let it simmer in a crockpot or on the stove on low.

Clam chowder is also reasonably easy to prepare, if you don't object to canned clams.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 2:27 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry for your loss. Seconding trays of sliced veggies and olives. Also fresh fruit like grapes, mandarin oranges, strawberries, apples. People tend to binge eat during grief and many people bring over baked goods. It is a relief to have some cut-up carrot sticks to nosh on.

Chili, lasagna, spaghetti, minestrone soup, chicken noodle soup. Something you can have simmering on the stove for hours and people can help themselves whenever they're hungry.

Also stock up on tea (caf and herbal), water, sparkling water, juice. For tea, have the teapot out and full of water, so people can heat up and drink whenever.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 2:32 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Crockpot recipes may save you time. If you don't have your own, ask around and see if someone will loan you (or even if you do have one, a second one means you could make a couple recipes and not worry about storage/cleaning immediately): a soup/stew/chili, chicken and rice type dish, pulled pork or beef. Googling or searching on Pinterest for "slow cooker" or "crock pot" recipes will give you many ideas.

Snacky things and sandwich fixings because people may not have big appetites or may just generally be off they're regular schedule, so food they can graze on as needed is great: fruit and veggies (trays), deli meats, cheeses (already cut maybe), breads/rolls, crackers, nuts, granola bars... If you're a do-it-yourselfer you could bake a good-sized turkey breast one night and people can slice off that throughout the week. Or just buy deli meats.

Stock up on cereal and milk, yogurt and eggs for easy breakfast and snacking too. Nothing like a fried egg sandwich for a comforting, fast last-minute snack.
posted by dahliachewswell at 2:47 PM on April 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

I sent something like this with my husband to a wake the other day and he said it was the first thing people ate. (I didn't use minute rice, or any particular recipe; I'm just showing you a recipe you can get the idea of the flavor profile. Sweet and sour meatballs with pineapple/veggie rice basically.) You can throw it all together and keep it in a big tupperware in the fridge; it's good to snack on cold as well as hot or room temp, etc. Solid and proteinaceous but much lighter than a lasagna; you can go as heavy on the vegetables as you like to make it lighter and more nutritious. And you can use pre made meatballs, it's fine.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:55 PM on April 13, 2014

Black beans and flour tortillas. Some sort of slaw--quick to make a great pile of it. I like an Asian slaw with a peanut dressing. Also, dishes of nuts, cold cuts, things you can put out quickly and let people select.
posted by Riverine at 3:20 PM on April 13, 2014

My favorite easy dinner. Take a chicken (a big one, in your case, or two in two small roasting pans) and plop it on top of a bed of largely-chopped root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, potatoes are my go-tos). Fill the cavity of the bird with rosemary, thyme, parsley and a lemon, cut in quarters. Roast until everything is done. SO GOOD and beyond chopping, no work whatsoever.
posted by xingcat at 3:23 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

For large groups, I like to prepare a bunch of burrito fixings so everyone can build their own. So pretty much something like the ingredients on the line at Chipotle. Some kind of seasoned meat, beans, rice, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, salsa, tortillas, maybe some diced onions and jalapenos. People can make themselves a burrito or a salad or a bowl of rice and beans, and it accommodates vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters equally well.

It's my go to for feeding large groups of people, especially if I don't know everyone's special dietary requirements.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:29 PM on April 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Ham should be on sale right now.

Day 1: cook a giant ham and serve with boxed mashed potatoes, canned gravy, microwaved green beans, store-bought cake or cookies for dessert.

Second meal: one or two strata's, one with spinach (microwave from frozen and squeeze out water) and cheese, and one with leftover ham and cheese.

Third meal: split pea with ham soup. Split peas cook fairly fast and you can add frozen veg like chopped carrots if in a hurry.

Other things that people seem to love are those frozen cheese tortellinis, which cook super fast. By the time the garlic bread is done, they are too. They are super filling, too, and picky people can eat them with butter, or spoon on sauce right out of the jar.

Can also get some of those rotisserie chickens and eat as is with potato salad and slaw on the side or let people make their own tacos or tortillas using the meat and black beans.

Breakfasts: bagels, toast, cream cheese, jams and jelly, cereal and milk.

Lunch: cans of soup, pb&j, deli meats, egg salad sandwiches.

Might want to stock up on paper plates unless you can expect people to wash dishes.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:32 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe it's different where I am, but our problem when my dad died was that non-family people brought over so much food, far too much for us to eat as a family (and we are a large family). We threw out so many boxes of fried chicken, I still can't really enjoy it. We also found ourselves going out to eat at least a few times, just to get out of the house. So keep that in mind. You might want to buy just enough for a few days and see if you end up with a houseful of donated eats, if any local people are coming to your house also. I don't know if your visitors will want to cook, but you could see if they want to handle any of the meals/do the shopping for those.

What visitors aren't as likely to bring is breakfast stuff; eggs (and cheese and butter to cook them) muffins, bread for toast, coffee, cereal, especially if the visiting family has little ones that have a certain type they are attached to. I'd definitely stock up on that and the fresh stuff too, fruit at the least; that makes better snacks and people tend not to bring it over as much as noodle dishes, casseroles, and desserts. And have bottles of water handy, and tea ready to be made. Maybe buy an extra coffee pot, if your regular one won't handle a crowd every morning.

Oh and lots of toilet paper, shampoo, etc in the house with that many people there. Paper plates and towels and plastic utensils might be good also.
posted by emjaybee at 3:32 PM on April 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

From a group this size, there's probably a couple of practical people who can help figure out menus and grocery runs towards the middle or end of the 5 days. You might want to delegate some of this to relatives that you trust, depending on the situation.
posted by ovvl at 3:57 PM on April 13, 2014

A cheap cut of meat + a crockpot can do you really well in this type of situation.

This recipe is awesome and we have used it for big family gatherings: http://pinchofyum.com/crockpot-chalupas
You can stop after step 2 and just use it as a torta (sandwich) or taco filling with whatever other torta/taco fillings you like.

This one is also great and makes a lot:
You could sub chicken or beef if you prefer.
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:31 PM on April 13, 2014

Yeah, you need to farm some of this work out...10-12 adults and no one knows how to cook but you? Day one you need to let everyone know that at least once they're taking a turn making sure everyone is fed, in a nice way of course, and ask them if they'd prefer to handle lunch or dinner. For breakfast, stock up on a bunch of stuff, cereal, oatmeal, pancake mix, etc, and let everyone know that for that meal they'll be fending for themselves. You need time and space to be grieving, yourself, and shouldn't be tied to a kitchen the entire time. Make sure everyone is aware of this. (It might be prudent to have a calendar up on the wall already that people can sign up for kitchen duty on). So sorry for your loss :/
posted by sexyrobot at 4:40 PM on April 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

From experience, I agree that people will bring you a lot of food. Be prepared to freeze things; people might come to collect their dishware before you even manage to eat the food they made. That happened to us. Also, fresh fruit and veggies will be so welcome!

Have lots of ice, toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins. And plenty of towels in the bathrooms! Don't run out of those!

My sympathes to you and yours.
posted by jgirl at 5:27 PM on April 13, 2014

Contact your church and let them know what is happening, if you haven't already. They usually will get together volunteers to feed your group at least once.

Red beans and rice, chili, and sloppy joes are all pretty easy and can be left in a crock pot so that everyone doesn't have to try and eat at once.
posted by myselfasme at 6:14 PM on April 13, 2014

I'm sorry for your loss.

How about picking up rotisserie chickens at the supermarket, some fresh asperagus with lemon juice and these steam n mash potatoes. Or pasta and potato salad from the deli.

If you want it to be a bit cheaper, buy pre-cut chicken pieces and roast in the oven.

Use disposible trays and paper plates. That much less to clean.

Ham, baked sweet potatoes and a veggie.

Big roast, baked potatoes and a veggie.

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs. Chips, potato salad, cole slaw.

Pasta, jar sauce, freezer meatballs, salad, garlic bread.

One night can be leftovers, or people can eat leftovers for lunch. Don't go nuts and don't go broke.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:23 AM on April 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

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