Growing up in Texas, my mom had the same answer for any large family gathering involving food; “I’ll bring a congeal!” To this day, I will never say no to shredded carrots in orange Jell-O, however, it’s not a dish that we have at-the-ready in our house. Being the Wisconsin summer season of potlucks, picnics and holiday gatherings, our family of five alone is an abundant lot to feed. Fresh off Fourth of July in the North Woods, we have some crumbs-of-knowledge to pass along that saved us dollars and filled ~17 grumbling bellies per meal.
Crumb #1: What’s up Doc?
Buy veggies in bulk, but serve them in small containers. The bulk purchase is the most cost-efficient, and enables you to refresh a small plate or bowl of them as needed. We took pint-size bags of baby carrots in our cooler to a picnic, and were able to keep the masses fed with zero throw-away at the end of the meal.
Crumb #2: Bean There Before!
Nothing smells of summer like a huge vat of baked beans. Heather has adopted her dad’s recipe for slow-cooking beans amidst the enticing aroma of bacon. However, with today’s options of canned vegetarian, pinto, baked and BBQ, we have been able to whip out a batch in minutes. Our shopping tactic here is to find the store with the cheapest beans and add spices/flavorings as needed. Best part is leftovers taste even better the next day and are easy to freeze for the next gathering.
Crumb #3: Brats, Tots and Hots!
Our most popular mass-lunch during the week was a combination of grilled brats, boiled hot dogs and baked tater tots. This combination appeals to adults and kids, and can be enhanced by onions, relish, ketchup, mustard, etc. We also utilized sliced bread as buns for the dogs/brats…no one complained and we were able to finish-off two almost done loafs.
Crumb #4: Tastes like Chicken!
After a long day on the lake of skiing, tubing and swimming there are anxious hungry mouths. We were able to feed three families worth of eaters with six thinly-sliced grilled chicken breasts, a vat of fettuccini noodles and two jars of Alfredo sauce. We served it warm, but it is equally delicious cold. Since we had garlic-sensitive eaters, we recommend buying the basic Alfredo sauce and dividing it into a couple of batches tailored to dietary needs.
Oops! We are realizing that this is sounding a bit like a food blog instead of a money blog. So, for a real food blog check out Roots and Radishes, but remember from this blog that feeding the masses doesn’t have to be a mass expense – here’s a poetic way to remember…
Baby carrots’ awesome crunch
Served at dinner and next day at lunch
The best side with brats & hots
Are golden brown tater tots
Beans are ready on the quick
Chicken Alfredo is creamy & thick
Feed family and friends hearty meals
Always look for bargains and shopping deals!