While I was on vacation recently, I had the fun of doing a little bit of the cooking for our group. Cooking for a group can be intimidating, when you’ve got lots of different tastes, preferences, or health needs, it can be down-right challenging. Fortunately, my group wasn’t that complicated, but I didn’t know all of their preferences. In this case, I always go with a “build-your-own” approach to a meal. That lets people customize their plate and ensures that, most people, will get just what they want. This works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
At breakfast my go-to is pancakes. Using a simple plain or buttermilk pancake batter, give your guests options to either have goodies baked in or serve as toppings. Great options include fresh berries, bananas, or peaches, peanut butter, nuts, chocolate chips, granola, and/or shredded veggies, such as carrots, zucchini, or even beets! Imagine the combos you could make – peanut butter and “jelly” (berries) or a sweeter treat like peanut butter and chocolate chips; carrot “cake” using shredded carrots & chopped pecans; or banana and granola, just to name a few.
Lunch is so simple when you serve a deconstructed big salad (this also works as a side, which is what I did in the photo). A mix of lettuce greens or baby spinach can be topped by things like tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, radishes, broccoli, cheese and much more. Offer up sliced chicken, chopped ham, boiled eggs, and even grilled shrimp as high protein options and serve a few different types of salad dressings.
For the evening meal, one fun way to give friends, guests, and friends a delicious meal is to serve build-your-own tacos. Like in the salad example above, I like to offer a variety of vegetable toppings – tomatoes, radishes, grilled onions and peppers, fresh shredded lettuce, homemade guacamole, and cilantro. Plain Greek yogurt replaces sour cream and I always offer
salsa, of course. Consider pan-fried fish for Baja tacos, marinated and sauteed tofu to please the vegetarians, or shredded rotisserie chicken for a super fast chicken taco.
These options will help ensure that those you’re feeding love the meal that they create. What are your secrets for happily feeding a crowd?