Help us fill 100 hungry bellies.
March 6, 2008 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Help us fill 100 hungry bellies. We want your ideas for a good meal to serve one night at a temporary warming shelter.

Our group of four is in charge of dinner for the night of March 14. Our main limitations are that the meal be hearty and filling, but not too complicated. And, since we all work 9 – 5, that it can be (mostly) made the night before and heated/finished the night of.

Ultimately, we want to make a full meal with entrée, sides and salad.

We are expecting approximately 100 people.

This is in Michigan and it’s cold!
posted by deathofme to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Chilli and cornbread is always nice on a cold night. Easy to make in both meat and veggie versions.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 11:43 AM on March 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

posted by electroboy at 11:44 AM on March 6, 2008

Yeah, I was going to say chili.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:45 AM on March 6, 2008

Thirding chili or a hearty stew of some kind, but would suggest baked potatos instead of cornbread.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 11:49 AM on March 6, 2008

Everytime I've done this at a shelter, we've done some sort of pasta and sauce dish - think penne and chicken/ broccoli sauce - that way it's easy to provide a veg. option. also, the sauces can be made the night before and heated.
posted by darsh at 11:52 AM on March 6, 2008

Hi! I run a winter day-shelter program in Michigan as well. >.>

Make chili! Stretch it out with a beef broth and remember that spicy food = full belly (I always provide a half-gallon jug of hotsauce - the GFS kind). For sides - call a bagel shop or a bakery (if you're in West Michigan, email me and I can get you some leads) the day before, they'll give you day-olds which you can toast with butter and cinnamon on top. Mmm... delicious. Toasted in a big oven. Chop up some bagels into small pieces, salt and toast to create crackers (gotta have crackers with chili.)
Make a huge salad with dressing tossed in, served in plastic cups with forks.

Provide lots of coffee and water.

Also - I tell my volunteers -
When they say "Thank you," don't say "Your welcome." Say "No, thank you for coming." I always loved hearing that when I ate at other shelters.

posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:53 AM on March 6, 2008

Seconding lasagna, served with a salad and have sliced italian bread, butter, salad dressing and extra Parmesan on the tables. Brownies and ice cream for dessert. I have done this meal as lunch at a shelter, and you absolutely can't go wrong with it, everybody likes it. Make one pan that's vegetarian, do meat in the rest. If you want to splurge, use italian sausage, and they will handcuff you to the stove and make you cook for a week. Reheated lasagna is better than the first time, anyway, so precooking the night before works. Use the no-cook lasagna noodles, a real timesaver and just as good. Here's a recipe, just multiply it by 10 (or more, because they will want seconds.)
posted by beagle at 11:54 AM on March 6, 2008

Oh my god. Potatoes. I'm not Dan Quayle, I swear.

How about shredded BBQ-style pork or chicken, as done in slow cookers?
posted by sevenyearlurk at 11:59 AM on March 6, 2008

Most of us like chili, yes, but bear in mind the spices don't agree with everyone.
posted by aught at 12:01 PM on March 6, 2008

Split pea made with a pile of hamhocks. Hock and other smoked pork products are inexpensive and add an enormous amount of flavor to the soup; a split-pea or mixed-bean soup, made from dry beans soaked overnight, has a tremendous amount of nutritional value and if there are leftovers they keep very well. Simple green salad, and bread toasted with generous amounts of butter and garlic. Yum!
posted by luriete at 12:01 PM on March 6, 2008

(although if you have Jewish or Muslim clients, the pork might be unappreciated - you can also use smoked turkey, which is also inexpensive)
posted by luriete at 12:15 PM on March 6, 2008

i say you can't go wrong with mac and cheese. homemade, not out of the box.

one of my friends does something like this. she makes up a huge freakin' pot of corn (from frozen or canned i believe) and brings that.

the people coming to the shelter don't just get corn of course, but that's her contribution to the meal.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:17 PM on March 6, 2008

Where I used to volunteer, chilli and lasagna are pretty easy to make in large quantities. They are both cheep and nutritious as well.
If you really want, I can post the chili recipe (serves 80). I also have turkey stew, goulash and lasagna (all serve 80). Chili is easiest though. I have a meatloaf recipe that is fast and easy, but doesn't taste as good as any of the others.
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep at 12:19 PM on March 6, 2008

Hey deathofme, it looks like you and I are fairly geographically close. Do you need a donation of anything for this night?
posted by fusinski at 12:42 PM on March 6, 2008

The group I do this kind of thing with has found chili to be the most popular because everyone seems to like it and if you serve a grain like buns or bread with it, it's nutritionally balanced--protein from either beans or meat (or both); lots of veggies and tomato sauce. It's hot, healthy, tasty and filling, and it's very easy to make cheaply in large quantities.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:59 PM on March 6, 2008

Spaghetti. With meatballs or sausage on the side.
posted by nedpwolf at 1:04 PM on March 6, 2008

You should get together with the guy who has A LOT OF HONEY.

But seriously, Spaghetti with meatballs sounds really good!
posted by aurigus at 1:05 PM on March 6, 2008

This soup is actually better the day after. Mmmmmm.
posted by mkb at 1:08 PM on March 6, 2008

you could mix it up a bit and do a white chili--use white beans instead of kidney, and shredded chicken instead of beef or pork. load it up with canned tomatoes, bell peppers, and corn. season with salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and lots of cumin--it's got zing, but it's not hot. serve cheese and hot sauce on the side.

my favorite winter warmer is a thick soup made with lots of greens, tomatoes, white beans, and sausage in a base of chicken stock. season with onion, garlic, salt and pepper, bay leaves, and a bit of oregano.

also good: pasta e fagioli. basically, make tomato soup, and load it up with white beans and short pasta the night of (don't do it the night before, as the pasta will swell in the soup and become mushy--but if you can par-boil it to just underdone in salted water the night before and then mix it in when you reheat the night of, it will be fine.)

gumbo would also be delicious, as would black beans and rice with some shredded bbq chicken.
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:18 PM on March 6, 2008

Most of us like chili, yes, but bear in mind the spices don't agree with everyone.

I'd like to second aught's answer and push it a step farther.

If you serve a really spicy chili and it makes people sweat, then they go back out into the cold, the result could be hypothermia.
posted by jamjam at 1:39 PM on March 6, 2008

Thanks for the ideas, everyone!

Chili does sound good, though I do have one concern about serving it. This is an overnight shelter and I'm a little worried that the, how shall I say, after effects might get a little unpleasant for all involved. Maybe I'm overthinking this? :)

Lasagna was big hit last year and it's definitely our fall back plan. I'm liking the spaghetti/pasta and bbq chicken ideas..and baked potatoes! Who doesn't love baked potatoes?

Good idea on the bakery, Baby_Balrog. I'm in eastern MI, but I know a few around here that it couldn't hurt to call. Oh, and now I'll definitely keep "you're welcome" out of my vocabulary for the night.

We'll be discussing all these suggestions this weekend and I'll let you know which way we decide to go. It's definitely going to be a tough decision! Almost makes me wish we had more than one dinner duty!
posted by deathofme at 1:46 PM on March 6, 2008

Frito pie.

It's self-contained, filling and tasty! And maybe you could get the local chip distributor to donate 100 bags of Fritos.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:27 PM on March 6, 2008

Do you have access to a bunch of crock pots? Easy stew for four, scale up for your numbers.

1 lb cubed beef-for-stew
1 lb bag baby carrots
1 onion diced
6 red potatoes, cubed
1 can beef broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Throw all of the above into a crock pot for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

Serve in a bowl topped with shredded cheese and french fried onions to make it special.

OR, leave the potatoes out and make mashed potatoes from flakes. No shame in that. They'll taste great as they'll be combined with all the other flavors. Or serve over a baked potato.

The Ultimate Beef Stew at my house looks like this: one scoop mashed potatoes, one layer shredded cheese, a few scoops beef stew and gravy, a few spoonfuls of french fried onions nuked in the micro. Tastes really good, warming, and... special, since there are layers. It fills you up very well and means dessert can be a cookie or something else small. No salad needed, either.
posted by orangemiles at 3:38 PM on March 6, 2008

nthing chili!! At the shelter I work at we make our own with bulk ingredients from GFS or the like and used whatever people would give us to make other random stuff. At one point we had a bazillion almost-bad apples and made the biggest apple pie you have ever seen!

Other necessities- COFFEE, sugar, and day old breads.

Good luck!!
posted by janelikes at 6:17 PM on March 6, 2008

The Burrito Project has some good cheap recipes for filling burritos. You need to check the MySpace pages to find the recipes but burritos have the advantage of not requiring bowls or plates and they are easy for people to take with them if there is any extra.
posted by calumet43 at 8:42 PM on March 6, 2008

Red beans and rice or Jambalaya.
posted by JujuB at 9:55 PM on March 6, 2008

In our house we make an easy spaghetti with a tomato sauce (ours is garlic, onion, and redwine with whatever herbs) and sliced sausages instead of meatballs. We cook the sausage bits first in a fry pan, it is yummy.
posted by bystander at 3:58 AM on March 7, 2008

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