When you need to cook for a large number of people, you must streamline the process to make tasks easier for you and your staff. Preparing food in bulk for your next event seems discouraging, but with the proper planning and prepping, these tasks can go smoothly. Ease your nerves about the amount of work you must do by using our tips to help you execute the meals flawlessly.
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Ask for a Guest List
An essential factor for cooking food in bulk is understanding exactly how many guests you’ll need to cook for. A few weeks before the event, ask your client to make an RSVP for guests so that you have a better idea of the number of people for which you need to prepare. When guests reply to the invitation, ask them to list any dietary restrictions because you may need to cook other food to accommodate the individuals who cannot eat the main meal.
In general, a single guest will eat half a pound of poultry or beef, 4-5 ounces of pasta, 1.5 ounces of grains, and 3-4 ounces of vegetables. Use these numbers to help you calculate how many ingredients you’ll need to buy for the meal. This will ensure you do not overorder too much food or not enough.
Have a Well Thought Out Menu Plan in Advance
Nothing will keep you organized better than planning exactly how you’ll execute the meals in the days leading up to the event. Try to be as thorough as possible in this plan by writing down your ideas for appetizers, side dishes, main dishes, desserts, and beverages. Create a list of each task corresponding to the day you plan on finishing them so that you have a complete schedule to follow and a bigger picture of the work you need to complete before you can start the party.
Do not go crazy with an abundance of recipes; stick to a limited number. You don’t want to prep too many ingredients. In addition, find your more straightforward recipes that use minimal ingredients so that they’re easier to prepare. Dishes that require many steps will make for a daunting and time-consuming task—try to avoid this!
Cook Recipes You Know Will Double or Triple Well
Speaking of recipes, not only should you choose the easier ones to make when preparing food in bulk for your next event, but you should also pick recipes that can be doubled or tripled as well. This is a more effective way of planning because it lessens the amount of time it will take you to complete each one. These dishes will be easier to make because you’re familiar with them.
Pro-tip: do not double the spices and herbs right away. Sometimes this can lead to over-seasoning, so only add about one and a quarter times the original spice amount. You can always add more later.
Prepare As Much Food As Possible Beforehand
If you do not begin preparing your food beforehand, you could be setting yourself and your team up for failure. Scrambling around the day of the event to complete each task will be unnecessarily stressful. Save yourself time on the day by preparing as much food as possible beforehand.
When cooking in bulk, you’ll need extra fridge and freezer space. Clear and clean out these appliances so that you have enough available room for items. A great habit is to freeze things like bread, crusts, sauces, and other freezable ingredients until the night before the party. Take these ingredients out the night before and place them in the fridge so that they can safely thaw.
Need some freezer tips? Place items in small, thin, airtight containers labeled for convenience, keep the freezer below zero and chill food in the fridge first before transferring them, so they freeze faster.
How To Prepare Your Ingredients for a Recipe
Now that you understand why you need to prep ingredients beforehand, let’s talk about how you can execute this plan better. While you don’t always need to do these multiple days in advance, you could start this prep work the morning of the event to give yourself a head start. The prep process is the most time-consuming portion of preparing meals—doing it early will make the hours leading up to the event go by much smoother.
To begin, cut up fresh fruit and put them aside for trays and salads. Wash, peel, and cut vegetables for various recipes. Pre-measure foods into containers and mix dry ingredients together. Getting the bulk of the work done early will make less of a headache when preparing other foods later.
Don’t Forget To Prepare Your Serving Platters
It’s not always all about the food and ingredients; don’t forget the platters and utensils you’ll need to serve the food. Place items, like bulk mini plastic dessert cups, in a convenient area of the kitchen so that you can easily and quickly transfer desserts and other foods into them. Having all your serving items in one place will also allow you to calculate if you need more platters or cups to hold your food. You could even prepare recipes and store them in bowls or trays in the fridge so that they’re ready to go when it’s time.
Clean Up Your Mess As You Go
Lastly, a kitchen can get very chaotic when there is a constant mess. As you prepare your recipes and ingredients, clean the mixing bowls and utensils as you go to make clean-up less daunting. This will also give you a clean workstation and more room to complete tasks. Work as a team and ask a specific staff member to focus on cleaning up while the others can focus on getting the food ready for the event.
Don’t allow these tasks to pile up the day before the event—give yourself enough time to accomplish each one a week or so in advance. Prepping food in bulk can be a lot for one person; ensure you’re asking for help and using other staff to make the process go faster. Plan your work ahead of time and stick to your schedule to minimize mistakes and mishaps—follow our advice for fewer complications.