It seems to happen every year where a massive amount of people are cooking for a big family event for the first time. Typically, we tend to think of Thanksgiving as being that time. You’ve just moved into a house for the first time, everyone’s coming over and your uncle is parked in front of the television asking when dinner is being served. Don’t panic if this is your first time cooking for the entire family as we have some advice. We can’t guarantee that everything will go perfectly (on the contrary, really), but here’s what you can do to make things a bit easier on yourself.
5. Slow Cookers Save Lives
Throwing a big turkey in the oven sounds festive and traditional, but it’s also an anxiety inducing part of cooking when you have to check on it every few minutes over the course of several hours to make sure things are going well. Instead, try to use slow cookers (yes, plural) as they don’t require your constant attention. It’s not just for cooking, either. Leave these gadgets on a setting to keep food warm so that people can graze whenever they want throughout the day.
4. Cook Too Much
Not many things feel as bad as not having enough food for a big event, especially for those that may not have been able to make it to the part where food was first served. While you might get a headcount and base your cooking around that, always expect there to be more people than you thought. Your uncle is going to have a new girlfriend and your cousin is somehow going to bring three of their friends…it just happens. If you cook too much, you can start doling out leftovers when it’s time to wrap up.
3. Snacks on Snacks
People are going to be grazing all day at a big event, so don’t focus too much on trying to get a million different entrees. Instead, make sure much of the menu is snack based and doesn’t call for too much cooking. Veggie trays and other finger foods will save your life when people fill up on those early and aren’t taking second or third helpings on that big culinary productions. They’ll also save you a lot of time on cleanup.
2. Buffet All Day
Remember those times when the person coordinating the family dinner would ask you to hand them your plate and you might not see it come back for a few minutes since there were so many other people? You can avoid this logistical nightmare by setting things up in a buffet style. It may be easier said than done, and if you’re crunched for space, you might want to set things up outside.
1. Visit the Deli
When you’re very focused on the entree you’re serving, some of the side dishes can require a lot of your time and energy. You don’t have to go over the top and use a bunch of different dishes just to make some baked beans that a handful of people will eat. Instead, opt for getting things such as potato salad, baked beans or buffalo chicken dip from the grocery store deli.