>Planning a Menu for Many -Great Tips-

> Today I am so happy to introduce you to my friend Kay, she is our sister in Christ and a great cook. Kay is a professional caterer turned Church Cook finding a great joy feeding His sheep, literally!”  You can follow her at her place, The Church Cook, where she shares great recipes, cooking tips, her favorite kitchen gadgets and much more.


It is such an honor to be able to do this for Becky. This is my very first guest post; we’ll see how it goes! Thank you Becky for giving me this opportunity.

After 15 years of large-volume cooking, I have done things instinctively. So, I had to stop and consciously think about each step that had to be written down. This is a long post but I hope it will be helpful to you all!

(IPC’s Ladies Luncheon for 100)


(Wedding Reception for 150)

Whether I am planning my children’s birthday party for 20, my church’s ladies tea for 100, or a wedding reception for 450, the planning and food preparation method is the same.

1. Plan a menu: 

 This is where it begins. Here are some guidelines for planning a good menu.

*Choose a menu which are appropriate for your guests. It’s not about what you want to cook to impress, but what your guests would enjoy.
*Choose one or two food items which can be frozen ahead: breads, cakes, many baked goods can be frozen before baked.
*Want to try a new recipe? Try one new recipe at a time. This way if the new recipe flops, you have your tried and true dishes to back you up.
*Write on the menu the quantity and size of serving dishes and platters and serving utensils you will need
*Don’t have too many last minute to-do food items, like sushi for 150, unless you can hire someone to do it for you at the party.

2. Gather recipes

*Copy all the recipes on the menu on 8 1/2″x 11″ paper and make a folder

*In the folder, have all the contact numbers you will need for the party: bakery, florist, rental company, etc.

*Have an envelope to keep receipts for food/supply purchases

3. Convert the recipes : 

 This is the hardest part for many novice event planners. Making too much food is the most common mistake. Here are some hints to avoid excess food .

*Recipe for a side dish which serves 6 will serve twice as much when serving in a buffet with other foods.
*Calculate about 1 to 1-1/4 pound of food total per person for buffet; more for sit-down dinners with multiple courses
*Main meats: 6 oz total cooked meat per person for buffet, more for sit-down dinners
*Young adults, all men groups eat 10% more

*Here is a great, helpful website: Ellen’s Kitchen (her calculations are slightly more than what I would prepare per person, reduce 20% of her recommendations)

4. Grocery List and Shopping
*After the recipe conversion, write out the grocery list. Go over each recipe and list every ingredient you will need. Check your pantry before you go to the store.
*For Sam’s Club business members, Sam’s Club has Fax ‘n’ Pull or Click ‘n’ Pull service is where you send in your grocery list and the store will gather the items and have it ready! It’s a great time saver. Check if your local grocery or warehouse store offers similar services.
*Most of your groceries (non-perishables) can be purchased a week or more ahead. Don’t wait until last minute to shop.

5. Prep List:  

This is a must to keep your sanity in the kitchen while you are prepping. A prep list also guides your helpers/staff.

*Before I enter the kitchen, I write down and organize the prep list. If you have a large event, make foods a week or two ahead and freeze. Many sauces or dressings can be made several days ahead.

6. Prep Work: 

Do it ahead! I usually do the bulk of my prep work two days prior to the event. Ideally, the day of the event should only be last minute assembly, cooking, and garnishing! I try to avoid prepping on the day of event. Click Here for more Cooking Tips from my blog.

Baked Goods: breads, rolls, and pie crusts and be made and frozen unbaked. Bake on the day of event for freshest taste.

Grate cheese ahead…

If you can’t freeze baked goods ahead, measure out dry and wet ingredients beforehand. So on the day of, you will assemble and bake without having to convert recipes and measure ingredients.

Limes and lemons can be juiced up to five days ahead.

Most veggies and fruit can be prepped two days prior. Delicate greens like herbs can be trimmed and washed early but chopped last minute.

Everything made ahead should be stored in containers or storage bags and labeled.

*Prep veggies and fruit before prepping meats. Be aware of cross contamination. Wash your cutting boards, utensils, and equipment well during prep.
*Don’t try to prep by yourself. Have a person or two to help in the kitchen.

7. The Day Before…

Don’t wait till last minute to set the table…

Or do flower arrangements…

or decorate the buffet table…..just make it less stressful for yourself and prep as much as you can!

8. On the day of event: 

This is the fun part! Most of the hard work is done and now it is the day where you put it all together. This is where you do final baking, heating up, or assembling of the foods already prepared.

Food is put on pretty platters and garnished

Candles are lit, and tables readied.

And your friends will say, “This is beautiful! You make it look so easy!” Of course they are seeing the result of your labor of love: numerous hours of planning, shopping, and preparing.

9. After event

Make a note for yourself.

*Too much, too little food?

*What can be done next time to improve?

*How much did this menu cost? Tally up your receipts.

This is a lot of information to digest, isn’t it? I wish I had this knowledge back 15 years ago! But I am so grateful to share it with you. I pray this little bit of knowledge will bless your family, friends, and your church.


Around the corner:

Peek into My Daily Journey -through my lens- ; today St Andrews Castle, the castle where John Knox preached in Scotland.

This entry is linked to Raising Homemakers.

8 thoughts on “>Planning a Menu for Many -Great Tips-

  1. >This is really wonderful!It's so nice to meet you Kay! Becky, thank you for sharing her with us! I'm definitely linking this website to my blog and will be referring my friends at church who love to do this kind of thing to it!Thank you again.Blessings to both of you!


  2. >Wow! What a wonderful post, Becky! And thank you, Kay! What a wealth of information and wisdom you are! So many good and commonsense tips that I otherwise wouldn't never have even considered. I don't think I have ever cooked for 450 people — I tremble at the thought! Also, I love the conversion website! Thank you so much! It is a blessing to meet you!!


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