Cook for a Big Group While Sticking to Your Budget
Cooking on the cheap shouldn’t mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, Gabriella Paiella shows us how to make the most of a tight budget — without sacrificing flavor or variety.
Today: Cook for a group and maintain your sanity.
More and more, the question of, “What should I cook for a group of 15 to 20 people?” has been coming up in our company chat room. My answer is typically to pour a bottle of klonopin in your mouth, go to town on one of these, and pray for the best.
The truth is, I hate cooking for a group. It involves more ingredients to buy, more prep time, more dishes to wash. But it’s not all bad, and the payoff of enjoying a meal in the company of a dozen or two friends is always worth it. Here’s how to feed several people, even when you’re on a budget.
1. Make it a potluck if you can.
This is the lazy way to do it — and therefore my preferred method of hosting. We’ve even got you covered with 10 Last-Minute Potluck Dishes for you to disseminate amongst your guests before the big feast.
2. Remember: Everyone loves pasta.
If you’re stuck with all the cooking, go with pasta. The boxed stuff is a cheap base that can be cooked in bulk or dressed with whichever seasonal vegetables you have lying around. We’re currently obsessed with this One-Pan Pasta (you can even make four at a time), while our summer intern Catherine recently made Al Forno’s Penne with Tomato, Cream, and Five Cheeses for a large group with much success. Brush up on your frugal pasta-making skills right here. Remember you can always turn it into salad.