Quick and easy food for large groups

"To impress a large group of people, you've got to cook large" -- comes the simple and obvious truth from Adam Roberts, owner of the blog The Amateur Gourmet. His best advice when it comes to feeding a group is to pick something and then stick to it, without hesitation, fretting, or self-doubt. It is not as daunting as you may think. There is a wide online selection of meals for large groups. And, believe it or not, some of them are also quite cheap and easy to prepare.

Hungarian Paprika Potatoes ("Paprikás Krumpli")

This meal is a true Hungarian comfort food and it is very easy to prepare. To serve 6 to 8 adults, you will need 0.907kg potatoes, 2 large onions, 1/4 cup smoked bacon (optional), 1/4 cup lard (or olive oil as a healthier choice), 0.113kg smoked sausage or hot dogs, 2 tbsp paprika, sour cream, and salt. Adjust the portions accordingly for a larger crowd. Melt the smoked bacon -- optional -- with one spoonful of the lard or olive oil. Peel and cut the onions into small cubes and sauté them until they are clear. Remove from heat and mix in the paprika. Peel the potatoes, wash them, and cut them into quarters. Add them to the onions and return the pan to the stove. Mix the ingredients, add enough water to cover them, and add salt. When potatoes are almost ready, add the sausage or hot dogs and cook for a few more minutes. Serve with dollops of sour cream.

Mac and Cheese -- for 25 People

Everybody loves macaroni and cheese. Cooking for 20 to 25 people is not a problem. Just follow this easy recipe from which will only take an hour to prepare. You will need 3/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup minced onion, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard, 2 tsp powdered ginger, 2 quarts milk, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 0.907kg grated cheddar cheese, and 0.907kg elbow macaroni.

Melt the butter in a 3-quart or larger kettle, cook onion in butter until soft. Add flour mixed with salt, mustard, and ginger and cook, stirring constantly until bubbly. Remove from heat and add milk, stirring or whisking continuously. Put back on heat and continue stirring until sauce thickens. Remove from heat, stir in Worcestershire sauce and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Mix with elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions. Bake in a 400°F oven in two buttered 11-inch by 15-inch shallow pans or two 3-quart casseroles. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, then covered for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Cover with aluminium foil if you don't have lids. If baked frozen, bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Homemade Pizza

Making homemade pizza crust is easy, affordable and quick, especially if you have a stand mixer. You can even prepare the crust dough ahead of time and freeze it. If you use store-bought sauce, add in a few additional spices: oregano, basil, or garlic powder -- or better yet, use fresh garlic. Then, add the toppings: if you wish, you can get your guests involved and let them have fun creating their own pizza with assorted toppings. Don't forget to add cheese.

Other ideas

Other quick and easy meal ideas for large groups include chilli, spaghetti, lasagne, soups, pot luck dinners and BBQ. When planning you meal, keep in mind the number of people you are cooking for; the amount of money you want to spend; the occasion; the people attending. Then make up your mind, stick with your plan, and have fun in the process.

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About the Author

Sophie Sarkozy began writing professionally in 2005. Her translations of science fiction short stories have been published in the prestigious Hungarian "Galaktika" magazine. Fluent in English and Hungarian, Sarkozy received her Master of Arts in English language and literature at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest.