Fifty people sounds like a huge crowd, but several simple, homemade dishes can make feeding 50 for lunch a little less daunting. Remember key safety issues to keep the group healthy. Most importantly, keep cold food cold and hot food hot during preparation, transportation and serving. Temperatures between approximately 40 and 140 F accelerate bacteria production. Also, be mindful of food allergies. Though foods like nuts and fish are common allergens, few people are allergic to beef, chicken, turkey and pork.
Casseroles offer one healthy, easy choice for feeding lunch to a large crowd. Buy several pounds of bulk, skinless turkey or chicken pieces, cut them into small pieces and cook. Combine the cooked turkey or chicken with a canned cream soup, brown rice or potatoes, dry salad dressing and seasoning mix and seasonal fresh vegetables. Top with cheese or bread crumbs as appropriate and bake. Beef or pork combines well with whole grain pasta, brown sauce or gravy, savory dry dressing and seasoning mix and broccoli to create an easy, appetizing casserole for a large crowd. Offer fresh berries and angel food cake slices for a light dessert.
Make homemade sandwich trays using large bakery loaves of whole grain artisan bread. Create extra large subs on the bread using thinly sliced turkey and ham, chicken salad or tuna salad. Slice into individual servings. Place cheese, onion, lettuce and tomato on a side tray. Provide a selection of condiments, including a variety of creamy, light salad dressings as more flavorful options to mayo. Offer sides of whole grain pretzels, homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies and fresh fruit.
Cook a large batch of vegetarian chili with plenty of green peppers, onions, tomatoes and beans. Provide an assortment of taco fillings and shells. Prepare side trays containing a variety of cheeses, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream seasoned with spicy dressing and dip mix. Purchase whole grain tortilla chips for dipping. Make layered dips of the zippy sour cream, ground meat, guacamole, diced tomatoes and cheese. Buy bulk containers of salsa and pour into a large bowl with a ladle for serving. Make a large tray of homemade cinnamon snickerdoodle cookies.
Dress up plain hotdogs and sausages with an assortment of bakery buns and condiments. Dice up tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives and peppers. Provide condiments such as catsup, mustard, pickle relish and spicy ranch salad dressing, with shredded cheese for additional hotdog or sausage toppings. Make a large pan of baked beans and offer bags of whole grain pretzels. Make a large bowl of fruit salad and trays of homemade sugar cookies.
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