Barbecueing For A Large Crowd

Learn how to plan a barbecue for a large crowd.

Cooking for a large crowd can be a challenge. Not only is there the sheer number of dishes to think about, but the differing tastes of each person present can be a challenge to meet. Though most people do not think of barbecuing as a good way to cook easily for a large crowd, it can be a great way to serve a group.

First of all, barbecuing is a relatively cheap way to entertain. Part of its inexpensive nature is due to the informal feeling of a barbecue. Eating outdoors provides an instant relaxed and casual atmosphere for diners. Though providing gourmet cuisine is still an option, it is just as acceptable to provide basic burgers and hot dogs. Clean up is a snap if you opt for high quality paper or plastic plates or disposable silverware. Set up is simple as well. Buffet-style set ups allow people to dine at their leisure and require little time to prepare.

If you have decided to entertain for a crowd with a barbecue, the next step is figuring out how much food is needed. Entertaining guides, available at local bookstores, give complete guidelines for estimating food for crowds. Considerations will include the length of the event, the time that the event is held and the number of invitees attending. It is always best to have a little extra food available in case of extra or extra hungry guests.

A standard grill menu of burgers (with or without cheese) and hot dogs (or sausages) is easy to prepare. Check out local bulk supply stores for the best bargains on large amounts of food. Many supermarkets can also accommodate large orders as well, though you may need to order ahead of time depending on the quantities needed. Basic condiments are a great way for individual guests to personalize their grill choices as well. Aside from the regular options (ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish), consider providing some extra options like spicy mustard, hot sauces, chutneys and flavored aioli. Though slicing onions and tomatoes can be time consuming, they are fairly essential ingredients for many. If time is at a premium, check with the local supermarket deli about their available veggie platters; there are some stores that will help do some of the prep work for you.

Side dishes are a must-have for barbecues. When cooking for a large crowd, having side dishes and cool beverages easily available is essential. Guests can satisfy their hunger while waiting for food to cook by snacking on the side dishes set out for them. Standard options like potato or tortilla chips, macaroni salad, potato salad and veggie platters with dip are easy to make or buy pre-made. Make sure to keep dishes with eggs, meat or dairy in a cool place, on ice, in a cooler or refrigerator. Dessert options are also easy when you stick with �old favorites.� Flat pans of brownies, cookies or sheet cakes are easy to purchase or can be prepared a day or so ahead of time. Fresh fruit platters are also a great healthy and refreshing alternative. Make sure that guests can help themselves to make the event easy for you.

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