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large meals

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How To Feed A Large Crowd Without Cooking Or Baking

Need to feed a large crowd of people but don’t want to turn on the oven?
Want to have a party without showing up exhausted from cooking? 
Do you want to know how to create a lite and healthy, well-rounded meal without spending much time in the kitchen?

Well, this post will tell you how. Actually, it will tell you how my sisters and I did it. A week ago today, we threw my youngest sister a baby shower.  We had about 20 people coming, and we wanted to have a beautiful array of food, but did not want to spend much time making it all.  My youngest sister was only in town for a few days, so we didn’t want anything to keep us from spending as much time with her as we could, and we were not interested in hanging out in a hot kitchen for that spent time!
Our solution was to make our own Hearty, Healthy & Delicious 

We wanted it to be hearty enough to pass for dinner, so we made sure we included toppings that were filling and hearty– protein and carbs along with typical vegetable toppings and fruit.  Some of our protein toppings included shredded chicken, bacon, cheese and nuts. (could also use hard boiled eggs and beans.)  For carbs, we included whole-wheat mini bow-tie pasta noodles, and served bread along with the salad.

{that is my sisters hand, don’t you like her funky green nail polish?
I’m so bummed I didn’t get good pics.  My camera quit on me right at the beginning of the shower}

So how to do this without slaving over a stove/oven? 

Here is what you do:

~Make a grocery list of salad toppings (the ones we used are listed below)

~Go to Wal-mart, buy ingredients for toppings.

~Stop by Sam’s Club (which is usually right next door to Wal-mart) and pick up a few Rotisserie Chickens and their Spring Salad Mix.

~Swing by Panera Bread (or any bread store/bakery), and pick up a few loaves of Asiago Cheese Bread.

~Hit your local dollar store for paper products.
*I went to the dollar tree and found clear, hard plastic bowls that were the perfect size for our toppings.  I knew all the colors of the vegetables and toppings we used would make art on the buffet bar if we used clear bowls.  They also had large, clear hard plastic bowls, so I bought 3.  One for punch, one for the spring salad mix, and one to hold sliced bread.
I was delighted that they had small, clear serving tongs, 4/$1.00!  They also had a punch ladle and small, clear punch cups.  I found little coffee stirrer type straws, they were blue and white (matched our shower colors) and were the perfect size for the punch cups.  

Once you have all your supplies, it is just a matter of chopping and putting the toppings into Ziplocs until ready to use. We kept chopping to a minimum by buying veggies that were conveniently packaged, for example-shredded carrots, grape tomatoes, shredded cheese, heat and serve bacon.  Convenience was the way to go to keep it simple enough to get it all done and enjoy my sister!

Our Menu:
Hearty, Healthy & Delicious Salad Bar With A Trio Of Salad Dressings
Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Cute Cupcake Toppers
Lemon Refresher Punch-I may be posting about this, gotta find out if it is a “secret” family recipe or not:)

That’s it!  Simple, Simple, Simple.

The Lemon Refresher and Cupcakes can both be made the night before, which again, helps with simplifying.  We were going to make homemade dressings, but then decided to buy it instead. We stood in front of the dressing aisle, a bit stunned by all the different types of salad dressings.  We choose Briannas Fine Salad Dressings, mostly because the bottles were pretty:) but also because they had 3 different types that we thought would suit most tastes.  We got Poppy Seed (my favorite and the most popular of the evening), Blush Wine Vinaigrette, and Caesar.

This Salad Bar idea would be great for groups large or small, and even though we went a bit crazy with the number of toppings, you really could minimize that, too. The feedback we got from those attending the shower was all positive.  We even had a number of children there, and they loved it too!  Yes, there were lots of vegetables, but there was also a lot of fruit, shredded chicken, pasta noodles and cheesy bread, which kept the kids happy and satisfied.  

I will be doing this often, whether it is for a ladies luncheon, a bridal or baby shower, or just having another couple over-it would work well in many situations.  I do love to cook and bake, but sometimes it is just nice to just have a break and keep the oven off!

Our Salad Bar:
Spring Mix Salad
3 Dressings
Shredded Rotisserie Chicken
Chopped Bacon 
Whole-Wheat Bow-Tie Pasta
Sliced Strawberries
Mandarin Oranges
Dried Cranberries
Green Peppers
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Feta Cheese
Sunflower Seeds
Sliced Almonds
Asiago Cheese Bread

*** I Am Pleased To Be Linking Up To These Wonderful Blog Parties. *** 

This post is linked to:

Friday Favorites @ Simply Sweet Home
Saturday Is Crafty Day @ Along For The Ride
Weekend Wrapup Party @ Tatertots & Jellow
Saturday Night Special @ Funky Junk
Tasty Tuesdays @ Beauty & Bedlam