Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Feed A Crowd - No Money

Let's have some fun.  Here is your scenario!
You get a call today that 20-25 people are showing up at your house Saturday for an impromptu and unscheduled reunion.  EEK!!!!
They are all coming from out of town, so they will not have access to stoves and refrigerators - so no one is bringing anything.  I know they could buy something - but for our scenario let's say no.
Here is the catch - you have to use what you HAVE and NO MONEY is to be spent!!!!

What do you do?  You have time to thaw out foods.  You have time to check your inventories.  You have time to get ideas from others.
I know there are some who are thinking - no way.  Others have this covered.  You may make a couple things or you may make several.  I bet there are more options than you can think of at this moment.

Checked my inventory and here is some of what I have to use.

Corn, beans of all sorts, carrots, potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes of all kinds (canned), zucchini (froze), peas, mushrooms.  Consider using in soups and casseroles, making bean salad, potato salad, just mixing and eating cold with homemade dressing

Beef, ground beef, turkey, chicken, sausage (couple types), hotdogs, pork, tuna, salmon, Spam, ham bones, pepperoni, summer sausage, bacon, sliced sandwich meats - lots of broth

Fresh apples, canned peaches, apples, pears, cherries, pineapple, lots of juices, mincemeat, blackberries, dates, craisins and raisins, frozen bananas

Eggs, butter, sour cream, milk, various cheeses

Flour, sugar, spices, baking supplies, cereal, oats, marshmallows, pasta (all types), rice's and rice mixes, dry bouillon, dried onions, soup mixes,  tortillas, baking mixes, crackers (a few types), some snack chips, nuts, dried noodles, tons of dry beans/peas/lentils, canned soups

Tea (hot or cold), coffee, Kool-Aid, fruit juices, water

DESSERT: (could make)
Cakes, brownies, cookies, sweet breads, Jello fixed in many ways, fudge, pudding, pie, crisp, cobbler, Krispy treats, no bake cookies, etc.

Pasta sauce, pizza sauce, salsa, can make gravy of all kinds

Mustard, catsup, mayo, pickles and olives, relish, can make tartar sauce or cocktail sauce, BBQ sauce, jellies of all kinds

WHAT to make?
Keep it simple -
Chili, soup beans, any type soup, casseroles (no limits), pizzas, chicken and noodles, spaghetti & sauce, lasagna or biscuits and gravy - (or grill out)
Think about making biscuits, easy bread (beer bread would be my choice), tortillas
Make a dip from sour cream or hummus from beans, can mix salsa/chili & cheese for dip (remember you can make sour cream if you have cottage cheese).
Appetizers - sliced cheeses/lunch meats, tuna salad, pigs in a blanket or veggie bites (relish plate) with crackers or chips, etc...….

I think I could make all sorts of things, but would probably stick to 2 or 3 large pot items, with sides of biscuits or bread/crackers, maybe appetizers, desserts and drinks.

Could you do the challenge?  What would be on your menu?
I know some may not have a lot of options - but it is fun to think about what you DO HAVE and WAYS you could use it and stretch it.

Let's play - what say you???????
This should be fun - I look forward to seeing what you come up with.


  1. What fun!
    If there is enough time, I could defrost a turkey and have a Thanksgiving type meal. Turkey,mashed taters,sweet taters,green beans fried apples, rolls,cookies .
    Otherwise a big pot of chili, cornbread, crackers, chips and salsa, cookies.
    Or maybe pasta. Baked ziti, spaghetti, make bread sticks. fruit salad since I don't have enough green salad stuff.

    1. Turkey dinner was in my thoughts as well. If you were informed today and guests were coming Saturday - you could do it.
      Love it!!! So many options!

    2. I thought of a couple more options. I have a couple big butts ;) so hubby could smoke them or I could put in Crock-Pot for BBQ. Need to make buns though and maybe fried taters or potato salad.
      Or a big pan of fried rice with some chicken and shrimp.

    3. OK - I would want to come to your house too. Yummy.
      I forgot about fried rice - good idea.

  2. No problem, and this has happened to us many times. Chili, casserole, or spaghetti are easy for dinner. I make my own bread, so no problem. Breakfast: eggs (we have a lot of chickens), pancakes, always lots of bacon in the freezer. Meats and cheeses stocked for lunchtime sandwiches, and I'd probably add a potato salad or a macaroni salad. With food storage, it's a piece of cake. Oh, and dessert...I can my own pie filling, so putting a pie together doesn't take much effort.

    1. Love we have experience speaking here! Having a freezer and pantry sure does come in handy. Don't you just love your food storage? Knowing how to bake and cook from scratch is such a blessing!

  3. Great post. It's so true that when you keep your pantry, freezer and fridge well stocked, it makes planning a meal whether for 2 or 20 so much easier.

    1. Yes mam. I hope that is something folks that are new to stocking learn.

  4. Wow, I would be fine, I would do home made spaghetti sauce. with homemade french bread. I would make extra french bread for french toast, for breakfast. Lots of homemade bread,as I have tomatoes frozen I would do a good homemade tomato soup with canned milk and grilled cheese sandwiches. Desserts can be pies, cookies, cinnamon rolls.I would lack in the fresh lettuce department, but could make up for that with carrot and raisin apple salad. Or a canned beans salad. Like I always said when the kids ere growing up, if you can make up a biscuit or a popover or a home made bread any cheap easy meal is good.

    1. Good for you. Same here on fresh stuff - bean salad, potato salad, etc. would be on that part of the menu.
      That homemade biscuit or bread can also help fill the tummy and less food is needed.
      Good to be prepared!

  5. I can't add anything but to say that I'm such an introvert that the mere thought of 20-25 people descending upon my home makes me want to run away screaming!

    1. Oh my - didn't mean to give you the heebie-jeebies! I have had 45-50 inside my little bungalow before - it wasn't easy - but I did it. People every where.

  6. I agree with Frances, and I think my kids and pets would feel the same...
    Byt anyway, needs must?
    I would make chunky soup; minced meat (that is ground meat, hamburger meat), potatoes, beans, carrots and all other veggies I find from my home. Problem is that I have only limited numbers of pots and pans, 10L is not enough for 25 people. I would need to cook on my wood stove, because on it I can fit endless amounts of pots and pans.
    I could make some kind of pasta casserole in the oven for those who don't like soup.
    I could make vegan dish like chili.
    Bread to go with both soup and casserole, I believe I have enough rye bread for the whole lot (also crispy rye bread which is essential for some people), and if I run out of rye bread I have some "white" bread (some oat bread, some wheat, some bread with root veggies), but "my people" prefer sourgdough rye bread over any other type of bread - even kids!
    For dessert I would have to make berry or rhubarb soup(I boil water+sugar or juice+sugar, add berries and when they come to boil (or let boil a bit longer if they are hard berries like gooseberries) I add potato or corn starch mixed with small amount of water, let it bubble and that's it), my grandma's version of brownies, oat cookies and coffee. There's got to be coffee after a meal, or there's going to be a riot!
    For drinks I'll have to use squash/juice (from freezer) or water.
    I would love to make a layered cream cake, but I don't have enough cream for that. Not for 25 people, for 10 there's enough.
    Maybe a sweet version of Yorkshire pudding made in large oven pans (one feeds about 10 people, so need to make at least two) and I have jams with it, i could also take some berries from freezer and add just a tiny amounf or sugar for those who don't like jam.
    But: I have plates and glasses for a big groups, but I don't have forks, knives and spoons! I have just about 24 of everything, and I don't have plastic cutlery at all anymore. So let's hope it's only group of 20 people...

    1. YUM - I want to come too! Everything sounds so good. You have many ideas I have never heard of. I love that.
      I figured I could make a few things to make it go around, as well as a few desserts. At least everyone would be fed.

      I have several pots and pans that only are used for certain occasions - so would have plenty. 4 burner stove and one oven - I guess it would all be full.
      Maybe have then eat in shifts if more than 20!!!!!!

  7. I'd definitely keep it simple, probably a pot of chili and another of beef stew. Mashed potatoes/rice for sides, along with mixed vegetables. A green salad, lettuce, tomato, carrot, cucumber, green onion (everything in my crisper) with choice of dressing. Home made buns and biscuits too.

    Dessert would be cookies, maybe a chocolate cake. Appetizers could be cheese and pickles but that's about all I could muster.

    Thankfully I'll never have to worry about it. Between my brother and I, our family only totals eight people.

    1. Good plan. Chili and stew are always hits. Like the idea of having sides with those - good idea.
      I just love all the homemade ideas.

  8. I never have ever kept that much food around. I have, however, had tons of company through the years. Just made menu...did grocery...cooked. I usually made lasagna, spaghett, or turkey and all the trimmings...

  9. I have dinner plates for 24 (everyday, Christmas, wedding china), flatware for 16 (everyday, silverplate), not enough glasses--so would have to fill in with disposables. I would probably prefer to use all disposables for a crowd, but I could make do.

    Meat--I have a turkey, butt half of ham, whole pork shoulder and 17 lbs. of ground beef. I would probably cook the turkey AND the ham (have roasting pans) and freeze the leftovers.

    STARCH--I have 10 lbs. of potatoes and I would probably just bake them all. I have enough butter in the freezer for serving, but not enough sour cream.

    VEGGIE--I have a whole boatload of green beans, including home-canned. I would cook them in my Dutch oven with diced bacon. I have a couple of pounds of bacon in the freezer.

    FRUIT OR SALAD--I don't have enough fresh stuff for salad for a big group. I have all of the ingredients for macaroni salad (which would be good with the ham) but it would be too much starch with baked potatoes. I could make a relish plate with black olives, dill pickles, carrot sticks and pickled asparagus. I could make a big batch of Jell-o with canned peaches. However, I could also serve the peaches or canned cherries, or both, in bowls. I have 24 bowls from the 3 sets of dishes, or I could buy disposables.

    BREAD--I have a package of 24 Rhodes frozen rolls. I would bake them and serve with butter and 3 kinds of homemade freezer jam.

    DESSERT--I have two brownie mixes.

    I have odds and ends of meat, veggies, cake mixes, etc., and put together, they would easily serve 20-25. However, I'm going to be too busy cleaning my messy house and borrowing chairs to do more than cook one thing for each category of the meal.

    1. My goodness, that all sounds good. Most of us wouldn't have enough fresh veggies for that many people, especially this time of the year. I think bean and pasta salads would be great, as would potato salad.
      Cleaning would be at the bottom of my list - that many people in my house would be a lot - so it will get messy any way. They would be too busy talking and catching up to look around!!

  10. Meant to add--I could make mashed potatoes, but baked are easier! Also, the relish plate consists of things I already have. If I had time to buy celery, I'd add it to the plate. If I had more eggs and was feeling frisky, deviled eggs are always a hit! But, again, more work.

    1. Another menu--I have big cans of Hanover baked beans (made in USA) from Dollar Tree. I could doctor up several cans of beans with bacon, ketchup, onion, etc., and serve with the ham (sliced thin), macaroni salad, canned peaches, relish tray, rolls and brownies. Beverage: Iced tea. I like this menu, and I wouldn't have to buy a single thing!

    2. Ham and baked beans sounds good - that is always a hit. I love how so many have lots of options. This has been a good exercise!

  11. Chili: ratatouille from the freezer for a base. Ground Beef, pinto beans, red beans, roasted peppers from the freezer for an extra boost of yum.

    Cornbread w lots of honey

    Chocolate Chip Cookies

    I'm just about out of veggies as I haven't been to the store in a week and we're eating everything I buy! Yea us!

    OH, I can make a Greek Salad as a pre-dinner course. Doesn't go with Chili but hey, it's veggies!

    Honestly, it's the only meal for 25 I can throw together right now as we've been eating out of the freezer and pantry this year buying only a bit of meat and fresh veggies.

    1. Sounds good to me. Not that this would likely happen - it is fun to think about what we would do if we had to.

      Sounds like you are doing a great job with your grocery budget!

    2. Thanks Cheryl. I am doing well. This thread has made me decide to cook fully out of our stores and I won't be going to the store until I can't make a tasty meal. I get free range eggs weekly from a Nurse I used to work with, so those will continue.

      Let's see how long it takes before I go buy food. I last bought fresh veg on 2/19. :-)

    3. WOW - great job. I am so happy that we have all had a positive impact. Hope it is saving you money too! I am sure it is.
      We have a great group here.

  12. I have both a turkey and a ham in the deep freeze, I stock up during the holidays, this got us through the shutdown last year. I always have a least ten lbs of potatoes and and emergency box is instant. I have some home canned pumpkin and two crusts in the freezer. Make big crockpots of both cheesy corn and baked beans. Have cream cheese, vanilla pudding, and Graham crackers on hand to make no bake cheesecake. I keep frozen berries that I get for $1/10oz at dollar tree to cook up for topping the cheesecake. Can also make a batch of cornbread or rolls.

    1. Thanksgiving dinner at your house! YUM. That all sounds so good. Those stock-ups can sure get us through some tough times.
      Good for you on being prepared!

  13. What a fun mental exercise. I keep a DEEP Pantry so this was not to difficult.

    VEGGIES: Lots of romaine for tossed salad; some carrots, celery, cauliflower, grape tomatoes and cukes. Frozen veggies - mixed, peas, beans, California blend, different potato types. Canned peas, corn, jarred & canned beans. Fresh sweet potatoes, a some white. Onions.

    I would make: Tossed green salad. Scalloped corn (family recipe). Baked beans.

    MEAT: LOTS in the freezers. Pork, chicken, beef, bacon, sausage, some fish. Bones to make broth for soup.

    I would make: I have a spiral ham. Also LOTS of burgers and hot dogs. I could also bake 2-3 chickens if needed.

    FRUIT: Halos, bananas, canned pears, lots of frozen berries and peaches and pineapple, some applesauce.

    I would peel the halos for the kids. Plan cobbler from the peaches. Pear cake. Berries in muffins. Pineapple & bananas as a side dish for breakfast if needed.

    FRIGE ITEMS: Eggs (about 2.5 dozen), milk, almond milk, cheese, tortillas, the usual condiments

    I could make Quesadillas or Breakfast burritos.

    DRY GOODS: Flours, sugars, spices, baking supplies, a little cereal, pastas, chips, some snack crackers, canned soups, canned fruit fillings, salsas, pepper jelly, extra condiments & dressings.

    I could offer pepper jelly over cream cheese on crackers or toasts for an appetizer or snack. I have enough ingredients to make a batch of Chex Mix. Plenty of chips and tortilla chips with salsa. I could bake anything.

    DRINKS: Tea (hot or cold) Coffee, a few frozen concentrates, some pop/soda, some wine or “adult beverages”. Good well water. Lemons & sugar to make lemonade.

    DESSERTS: A few cake mixes and a bit of candy around, but I could make just about anything.

    SAUCES: BBQ sauces, I can make pizza, pasta sauces. Gravy too. Queso in jars.

    CONDIMENTS: Ketchup, mustards, dressings, relish, pickles and olives, jams, syrups,

    Menu: Since i don’t know the number of guests or ages, I’ll go by what I’ve done in the past for company.

    Breakfast: Probably muffins, fruit and bacon/sausage. Coffee, tea or berry-infused water

    Lunch: Sloppy joes or pulled pork. I can make biscuits to supplement the buns I have on hand. Salad and brownies for dessert

    Snacks: Dips, chips, chex mix, fresh fruit popcicles, cookies. Punch with the pop and frozen juice and fruit.

    Supper: Ham, chicken, hash brown casserole, sweet potato cubes, variety of mixed veg, homemade rolls. Fruit cobblers or berries over angel food cake

    1. Aren't you the hostess? You planned all 3 meals. Most of us were figuring one!
      You mentioned some things I hadn't thought about. Baked beans, pepper jelly over cream cheese, popsicles, chex mix.
      Sounds like you keep a well supplied pantry as well.
      I just love how prepared people are.

  14. hmmmm, I would start with making a breakfast casserole or two with eggs from the girls and sausage/bacon in the freezer.

    I would have an early dinner/late lunch of:
    chicken, keilbasa and burger/hot dogs on the grill. Tomato/zucchini & yellow squash casserole.
    Chips and salsa
    Corn casserole
    salad fixin's
    I do have some tater tots, french fries and sweet potato fries in the freezer also.
    spice cake for dessert
    paper plates, forks, knives and serving spoons
    coffee and tea, water and gingerale

    the only thing i may need is extra buns, but not a necessity

    hmmmm, mostly carbs...i will need to work on that. lolol

    1. Sounds good. Carbs are filling! SO you will fill your company up and it will be tasty.
      I love all the ideas that everyone is presenting.

  15. I am on the tail end of RV ing so supplies are slim. BUT, I would make a big pot of beans and greens to have over pasta, I would then make Soupa Toscana. A pepperoni and cheese stromboli or two would follow. As would garlic bread. A three bean salad would round out the meal. I could make a pineapple upside down cake for dessert. Where there is a will, there is a way.

    1. Oh yum. More good things I had never thought about. All these ideas sound so good to me.
      Yes indeed - where there is a will...….

  16. I replied yesterday but I guess it went into cyberspace. I have lots to play with, ham, ham and beans, coleslaw, home canned green beans, lasagne, scalloped potatoes, potato salad, deviled eggs, pumpkin pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, cookies, 7 layer cookie bars, frosted chocolate cake.

    1. Oh yum. That all sounds so good. I want to come to your house too! I am so loving all the ideas. Not only does it give us all something to think about, but new suggestions for every day.

  17. Fun to read everyone's comments and jolt me into further analysis of what I have on-hand:

    I could add a pot of pasta/ratatouille-I have a scant 20 oz package of hamburger and no Italian Sausage so meat would be sparse this time.

    I can make many loaves of bread: french bread or 10 grain.

    I have plenty of nuts to put out for nibblies ;-)

    I have 1/2 gallon of our blackberries still in the freezer. I could make 3 dozen almond muffins for a bit of variety.

    I have 3# of peeled shrimp in the freezer. I could steam those up then chill, for an appetizer. And we have some pineapple BBQ sauce hubster made.

    Now I think my stores are exhausted for that large a group?

    1. Not all sauce has to have a ton of meat - that would be fine. Bread takes up a lot of room in the belly!
      Heck the shrimp sounds yummy - and I have heard of people adding that to pasta sauce.

      As stated above - where there is a will...….
      Your ideas sound yummy. Sure makes us stop and think!

  18. I am just going to be part of the 30 that come to your house. LOL. Gramma D

  19. I could do some big pot items...which is probably what I would do...Chili for one. And I would want some navy bean soup. Perfect in todays weather. I have things I could throw on the grill. I could make brownies or a cake...this is just off the top of my head. The big pot items because would cover a crowd easier.

    1. I love those big pot dinners. I need to make some soup beans - I haven't made any in ages. That sounds good. Today is not fit for man nor beast! It sure is cold tonight.
      Great ideas - great minds think alike!

  20. I could make chili, ham as I purchased a large one after the holidays, potatoes (got a 10 lb bag for free), any type of canned veggie as I canned a lot of my garden. Dessert could bake pies, bake a 7up cobbler cake, apple slices and make a homemade dip.

    1. It seems like chili is a common dish we would all fix. Ham is great.
      It all sounds yummy!