Cooking for Crowds Shouldn't be a Frightening Proposition
Most people balk at the idea of cooking for large crowds of people. With images of huge stockpots boiling over and becoming chained to a hot stove and oven for countless hours on end, it's no wonder that so many people avoid the idea of cooking food for large crowds with more tenacity than they avoid being last in the dinner line.
The good news is that it doesn't have to be the frightening proposition that so many make it out to be. When it comes to cooking for a large crowd, the planning phase is the most important. You absolutely must plan your meals when feeding a large group of people. This goes far beyond the notion of spaghetti or fried chicken as the meals you are planning. You need to know how many servings you will need. While obviously you never know how hungry people will be or who will eat how much when it comes to cooking for a large crowd it is a good idea to always plan for a few extra mouths in case some need a little more than you may think (you might want to double servings for teen and college aged men that will be dining).
You need to know at least a general number of servings to prepare and adjust your recipe in order to accommodate those needs. Some people find it much simpler if they can double or triple recipes rather than scaling them to specific serving sizes. If this works best for you then by all means incorporate this practice when cooking for crowds. One thing you must be aware of is that you will need to include in order to create the meal you are planning.
Having the proper ingredients and the proper amounts of ingredients is more important in bulk recipes than is often necessary in smaller recipes as there is less leeway when it comes to creating the proper consistency. You should keep this in mind when making purchases for your cooking for a large crowd event.
Some people find the best route to take when it comes to cooking for crowds is to keep everything as close to their normal cooking routine as possible. This would mean that instead of cooking one really huge pan of lasagna for a triple sized crowd, they would instead cook three normal sized pans of lasagna. This accomplishes two things really and is something you may wish to keep in mind despite the extra time spent in the kitchen.
First of all, if something goes, wrong only one third of the meal is in shambles rather than the entire dinner. Second, you have a greater possibility of finding consistency issues before the baking begins if you are using measurements and cooking containers that you are familiar with and comfortable using. It is always best to discover errors and omissions sooner rather than later when it comes to cooking as very few ingredients can be properly added after the fact.
While cooking for crowds may send some into dizzying spells with heart palpitations it helps if you take a few deep breaths, sit down, plan your menu, plan your meals, make a list of your ingredients, and cook in a manner that is comfortable for you. If you would rather get it all over with in one fell swoop, then by all means do just that. If you are more comfortable making multiple dishes of family favorites then that is probably going to be the best course of action in order to meet your large crowd cooking needs.
Most importantly you should remember when cooking for crowds is that you might have just earned yourself a well-deserved night off afterwards. Cooking for crowds is time consuming and should be approached when well rested (if that is even possible) for the best results. There is something that is actually very satisfying about knowing that you have fed a crowd and fed them well.