We are blessed to share our lives with family and the families of so many of our friends. Preparing food for 10 to 20 (or 50!) people takes planning, shopping, and plenty of time for preparing and cooking.
The whole process is my passion, and it takes me away from the cares of my work life and daily living. I love to research and prepare menu ideas, then gather a list of ingredients and plan out the preparation and cooking timeframes.
After my menu selections are all set, then I begin seeing what ingredients I have on hand, and what I will need to shop for — either at the grocery or wholesale market. There’s a lot to do, so I like to keep myself organized with a grocery list I keep in Excel — categorized by: dairy, meat, produce, deli, bread, general grocery, frozen, wholesale club, etc. Here is the Excel file I use:
Once you have all the ingredients gathered together, it is time to start preparing food! I like to begin by seeing what could/should be prepared in advance and make a list of those things first.
Then, for the day of service, figure out your cooking and oven schedule by starting with what takes longest to cook, and fitting in the rest of the dishes within the timeline, with a final count-down to “let’s eat!”
Keep yourself organized, and don’t forget to check your original menu list when it’s time to eat — to make sure you are serving everything and don’t forget to put something out which you had already prepared. This is the voice of experience, because we have gotten to the end of a meal, many times, and I will say, “oh my goodness, the salad is still in the refrigerator.” Ha!
Share the love you put into making your meals with those you love!