Cooking for a crowd at your own party can be intimidating and the fear of running out of food is quite overwhelming. You can, of course, get the help of Chef Lekker, affordable and catered to your needs. But if you are determined to do all the work yourself, I might still be able to help you :).
Not all the food has to be made the last minute. When planning your menu, have in mind that you have limited time at your party. Between greeting, ‘cheering’, dancing and laughing there is so much you can do in the kitchen.
Here are some tips and tricks to get you stress-free through your own party
Make a menu plan
Start with brainstorming what you would like to serve your guests. research recipes and ideas from your own cookbooks, magazines or favourite recipe website. Once you have all your ideas, scout all the recipes that are easy to do ahead of time, less labour intensive and/or easy to do last minute.
Make a schedule
Before you start your saga of feeding 50 people or more. Make a schedule. Starting with a grocery list. Plan half a day for groceries and start cooking the food you can freeze first (can be made well ahead of time even a week!). Once you have all your groceries in house, start prepping the ingredients that are the bulkiest, to make space in your fridge again. Make sure you have enough storage containers for all the food. Once you start prepping you want the momentum going.
Plan your menu with dishes that are easy to reheat
At your party, you only want food that cooks itself. Every pot you have to watch or every pan you have to sautee keeps you from your own party. That is why your oven is your friend. The easiest way to cook and reheat food is in the oven. Preheat to 350F (175C) and feed your oven trays of your goodies. It is a quick way to feed a crowd.
How to follow recipes
Not all recipes you find or have should be multiplied by the number of guests you have. Not everybody will eat everything from your menu UNLESS you have a very small menu and you know everybody will eat everything for sure. Otherwise, you can do with less. Most of the times the amount of food is in the variety you offer rather than the quantity.
Only go grocery shopping once
Before you go on your grocery frenzy there are a couple of things you should do ahead of time:
1. Make space in your fridge and/or freezer
2. Make a detailed grocery list.
It really is annoying if you have to go back half way your prep for a single ingredient. You not only will loose time, but also momentum. Prepping is like an old engine, it will take time to get going but once it is running smoothly, you don’t want to turn it off. So take some time with your menu plan and recipes and make a detailed grocery list and know what you can buy where.
Make sure you got enough room when you cook
Best thing, Clean all your dishes (I know it will be dirty again very soon), Get rid of all kitchen tools that you will not use. The more space when you start, the better! Also try to find prep jobs you can do simultaneously, Like cooking pasta while you prep vegetables, combine jobs that do not need supervision with some that take up all your attention.
A little bit from me and a bit from the chef
Now, this is a great idea. And many blogs suggest the same. It comes down to cook with a little help from your friends. For a reasonable hourly fee, you can even hire a chef to help you out with all the prep before or cooking during your party. Even your favourite Chef Lekker offers this kind of service! 🙂
Clean up tips
Cleaning-up starts before your party even started. Once you have everything in place and you expect your first guests (ideally you have a small half an hour to take a little breather), you probably are still busy tidying your kitchen up. Have your dishwasher run with pots and pans. But once your party has started you can tidy and clean with the help of your guests. Place some bins with soapy water next to the sink for plates and cutlery. Do not wash them, you are way too busy having a great time, but soaking everything will definitely help the amount of time you spend cleaning everything. Maybe you are lucky and one of your guests sees it as their destiny to help you clean them (while you bring him/her one of your winner cocktails). The more you can do unnoticed during your party, the less work you will have after.
Don’t forget your leftovers!
Now that everybody is full, happy, in party mode and enjoying themselves, you might realise that there is still plenty of food left. Ideally just enough for tomorrow’s lunch. But in the likely event of lots of leftovers, have yourself covered with take-out containers. hand them out to departing guests, nobody likes wasting food.
Links and resources
Top of the list of course 🙂 From full on caterer, to Party chef prep help.
Excellent site for party rentals. Easy to navigate, comes with online quotes or give them a call for specific needs. You can either pick up or have your rentals delivered.
Located on 5335 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2G1. There you will find a lot of catering needs like, take out containers, food storage bins, chafing dishes, skewers and other kitchen tools and equipment.
One of my favourite places in Vancouver. Home of many cool kitchen gadgets, chef’s wanna haves and high-quality ingredients. Located on Hastings and Clark in Vancouver.