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What would you serve 100 people? (Need help quickly, since I'm shopping).


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We signed up to make dinner for Saturday for the local men's shelter.  We need to make food for 100 people.   The instructions note that many of the men are older and/or have health issues so they prefer "healthy" food.  But of course, I also want whatever we make to be delicious and filling.  

Our instructions say to send an entree (they list "whole wheat pasta entree" as one suggestion), a veggie and/or salad, potatoes or rice, and water.  

Today we made about 140 generous servings of bolognese sauce.  Our plan is to use most of it for this, and then freeze the rest for the family.  Our bolognese has beef, pork, red wine (well cooked, the alcohol is burnt off), and milk in it, so it's not for everyone.  It doesn't have any ingredients with gluten, but it's made in my kitchen which is certainly gluten contaminated.

I need to put in a  grocery order to get the rest of the ingredients.

I was thinking of making baked ravioli with it, because its yummy and filling, but it's not whole wheat.  It's also got a lot of fat from the cheese.

I could also make baked ziti, which could be whole wheat, but still have lots of cheese.

Or, I could just make some vats of plain pasta.  I just worry that unbaked pasta won't taste good if it's served hours after it's made.  Baked pasta seems easier to dish out too.  

I'm also wondering if I should offer a second sauce for people who don't eat meat, or pork, or are allergic to dairy, or can't handle even the taste of alcohol.  I can make a spicy lentil marinara that has none of those things.  Maybe make a pot of that, and some plain pasta?  Would you also do something like zucchini noodles in case someone is gluten free?  

For sides, I was thinking salad, steamed broccoli and carrots, and whole wheat dinner rolls (2 per person?).  I know it says potatoes and rice but those seem weird to serve with pasta.  All of the other suggestions were things that would make sense with potatoes/rice like meatloaf.  We've also got another family contributing 200 homemade cookies.  

Anyway, I'd love thoughts on the kind of pasta, what dietary options I need to accommodate, and whether I can get away with dinner rolls instead of rice/potatoes.  JAWM that pasta of some sort with bolognese is OK for the majority, because we already made it.  I promise it's very tasty!

Sorry this is so long. 

 

Edited by BaseballandHockey
Clarifying the gluten free thing
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  • BaseballandHockey changed the title to What would you serve 100 people? (Need help quickly, since I'm shopping).

Don’t make whole wheat anything if you’re gluten free. Unless you can use someone else’s kitchen it’s a recipe to be sick for weeks. 

I agree the other carbs sounds like too much, but they are cheap, healthy, very filling, and in and of themselves provide alternative foods for someone who doesn’t want the pasta. Otherwise your plan sounds good.  

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Just now, Katy said:

Don’t make whole wheat anything if you’re gluten free. Unless you can use someone else’s kitchen it’s a recipe to be sick for weeks. 

I agree the other carbs sounds like too much, but they are cheap, healthy, very filling, and in and of themselves provide alternative foods for someone who doesn’t want the pasta. Otherwise your plan sounds good.  

I'm not gluten free.  Sorry, I meant that the sauce doesn't have any gluten ingredients, but it's been made in my gluten contaminated kitchen, so someone with severe celiac, for example, would probably not be able to handle it.  

I agree about potatoes and rice being cheap, healthy and filling, but I was thinking that homemade dinner rolls might also be cheap, healthy, filling and a nice change?

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I would probably go another way and make beans and rice as the alternate dish for people who can’t or don’t want to eat the pasta bolognese. 
 

I think it’s wonderful that you are doing this. I would add though that in the future I wouldn’t, if I were you, cook with alcohol for people if you think it at all possible that they have struggled with alcohol addiction.

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2 minutes ago, bibiche said:

I would probably go another way and make beans and rice as the alternate dish for people who can’t or don’t want to eat the pasta bolognese. 
 

I think it’s wonderful that you are doing this. I would add though that in the future I wouldn’t, if I were you, cook with alcohol for people if you think it at all possible that they have struggled with alcohol addiction.

Ooooh, I like the beans and rice idea.  I could do that as an additional side.  

Yeah, I goofed on that.  

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19 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

I was going to suggest spaghetti (with the whole wheat pasta), salad, side veggie and garlic bread. 

I've never made spaghetti unless it was going straight from stove to table.  In this case, I would need to make it, cool it, and then bring it there to be reheated a few hours later. Is there a way to do that? 

I was thinking that a more substantial pasta, like penne or something, might be easier. 

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Just noting that I have cooked for a lot of shelters and filling healthy food was the focus. Specialty diets like gluten free were not (unless they specifically told you to cook with that in mind). And I know that you will not want to hear this but a vast majority of the people in the shelters I have worked with are substance abusers. Putting alcohol in food even if it’s burned off would be a huge trigger. (But check with the shelter. They obviously will know their specific demographic.). 

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Just now, jen3kids said:

You can definitely reheat pasta in boiling water, but be careful of it getting mushy.  Penne and rotini would fair better than spaghetti.

There is no kitchen there.  Just microwaves, and rewarming trays.  

With covid, we aren't allowed to go inside. We'll drop off trays at like 3, for dinner that night.  The trays need to be ready to go straight to the warming trays.  

 

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The only decent way to reheat pasta, IMO, is to put it in a large colander and pour hot water over it.

For this type of situation I would do a baked pasta casserole.  You don’t need to use a ton of cheese and it will be much easier to manage.

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My experience is to keep it as simple as possible when feeding 100 people.  Unless the instructions specifically said to, I would not try to have something for ever possible situation. IME at a homeless shelter, the shelter will have a way of meeting the needs of anyone who cannot eat the provided meal.  

You can mix spaghetti and the sauce in serving dishes and heat to serve, similar to a baked pasta dish.  A smaller, wider noodle is probably easier to serve, however.  A baked pasta does not necessarily need lots of added cheese.

Another suggestion is that if you have carrots, either have them cut in very small pieces in a salad (like grated) or cooked very well.  I have been at homeless shelters where the meal recipients commented that they couldn't eat the carrots (or other hard, crunchy items) in salads because of dental problems.  

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3 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

There is no kitchen there.  Just microwaves, and rewarming trays.  

With covid, we aren't allowed to go inside. We'll drop off trays at like 3, for dinner that night.  The trays need to be ready to go straight to the warming trays.  

 

That makes pasta a lot trickier to serve.  I like Danae's idea then.  Can you make the penne/rotini/ziti and your bolognese sauce into a casserole without it drying out/burning in the warming trays?

 

2 minutes ago, Danae said:

The only decent way to reheat pasta, IMO, is to put it in a large colander and pour hot water over it.

For this type of situation I would do a baked pasta casserole.  You don’t need to use a ton of cheese and it will be much easier to manage.

 

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1 minute ago, Bootsie said:

My experience is to keep it as simple as possible when feeding 100 people.  Unless the instructions specifically said to, I would not try to have something for ever possible situation. IME at a homeless shelter, the shelter will have a way of meeting the needs of anyone who cannot eat the provided meal.  

You can mix spaghetti and the sauce in serving dishes and heat to serve, similar to a baked pasta dish.  A smaller, wider noodle is probably easier to serve, however.  A baked pasta does not necessarily need lots of added cheese.

Another suggestion is that if you have carrots, either have them cut in very small pieces in a salad (like grated) or cooked very well.  I have been at homeless shelters where the meal recipients commented that they couldn't eat the carrots (or other hard, crunchy items) in salads because of dental problems.  

I was just going to say something similar. All of the elderly that I'm related to have multiple problems with their teeth or dentures. Carrots and frankly, even broccoli, would be sonething they'd most likely skip due to difficulties chewing and having broccoli bits stuck in their teeth. Potatoes and rice, or beans would be a good alternative. It may not sound like a good pairing of food types to us, but tasty and healthy food is always welcome.

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27 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

PS - the reason why whole wheat pasta was suggested is because it is a source of folate. Many chronic alcoholics have folate deficiencies. 

I just checked the Barilla pasta website and--unless I misunderstand things--they list their whole wheat pasta as having 20% folate, while their traditional white pastas have 50% folate. So 2.5 times as much in white enriched pasta.

Bill

Edited by Spy Car
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If there are people who are avoiding gluten, then they could eat the rice or potato dish, perhaps that is why it is added to their list. So, maybe you could add either potatoes or rice as substitute for the main pasta dish.

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7 minutes ago, Spy Car said:

I just checked the Barilla pasta website and--unless I misunderstand things--they list their whole wheat pasta as having 20% folate, while their traditional white pastas have 50% folate. So 2.5 times as much in white enriched pasta.

Bill

I am sure that’s true. I was thinking of what is naturally in there prior to enrichment. 

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I’ve never served at a shelter but I prepare dinner for the Ronald McDonald house and the Cancer Society house a few times every year. It seems weird as a side but applesauce, especially at the Cancer Society house is appreciated. We get so many comments that it’s nice to have something easy to swallow, apparently chemo makes it hard to swallow. With dental problems being common in shelters, maybe applesauce would be appreciated there too.  

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Just now, Rachel said:

I’ve never served at a shelter but I prepare dinner for the Ronald McDonald house and the Cancer Society house a few times every year. It seems weird as a side but applesauce, especially at the Cancer Society house is appreciated. We get so many comments that it’s nice to have something easy to swallow, apparently chemo makes it hard to swallow. With dental problems being common in shelters, maybe applesauce would be appreciated there too.  

Oooh, that's a good idea.  Last time we did this, we sent those little cutie oranges and bananas, figuring that the bananas in particular are soft.  We didn't get any feedback last time, so I have no idea if what we sent was "right".  Apple sauce would be easy to add. 

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1 hour ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

I am sure that’s true. I was thinking of what is naturally in there prior to enrichment. 

Which I'd bet is not much w/o enrichment.

Post-enrichment the white pasta (Barilla's at least) is a big winner over whole wheat if folate is an important issue, plus the advantages in taste and texture (which are magnified by the issues of whole wheat pasta getting even more soggy when being held at temperature over time or being reheated.

Whole wheat is very prone to going mushy in the best of circumstances.

Bill

Edited by Spy Car
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1 minute ago, Spy Car said:

Which I'd bet is not much w/o enrichment.

Post-enrichment the white pasta (Barilla's at least) is a big winner over whole wheat if folate is the big issue, plus the advantages in taste and texture (which are magnified by the issues of whole wheat pasta getting even more soggy when being held at temperature over time of being reheated.

Whole wheat is very prone to going mushy in the best of circumstances.

Bill

I don’t care if Baseball uses whole wheat pasta or not. I was just going off of what she was told by the shelter. And I was guessing (from what I was told over the years by shelters) why they made that recommendation. But it’s a guess. Whole wheat is often recommended for other reasons as well- including blood sugar control. 

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I am sure folate is one reason, and all the other reasons, including GI health, for choosing whole grain apply.  

I understand why it’s ideal, I just have concerns about the mushiness.  Baked ravioli is also something I know how to cook, it’s familiar and tasty.  

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I’ve worked in shelters quite a number of times. I’ll echo what’s been said:

—keeping it simple really is best. If there’s a special dietary need, the shelter already took care of it.  It was so much easier to serve one basic main with sides they picked. Different sauces/noodles, etc… would not have been ideal and really slowed down the process. I think baked ravioli or baked ziti with regular pasta will be best given your heating up restrictions 

—applesauce and other soft foods were always helpful with dental problems.

—fruit to go (like you did before) was always popular

So glad you can do this!!

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15 minutes ago, momto3innc said:

I’ve worked in shelters quite a number of times. I’ll echo what’s been said:

—keeping it simple really is best. If there’s a special dietary need, the shelter already took care of it.  It was so much easier to serve one basic main with sides they picked. Different sauces/noodles, etc… would not have been ideal and really slowed down the process. I think baked ravioli or baked ziti with regular pasta will be best given your heating up restrictions 

—applesauce and other soft foods were always helpful with dental problems.

—fruit to go (like you did before) was always popular

So glad you can do this!!

How does this sound:

Salad: lettuce, cucumber, tomato, Italian dressing on the side.

Baked ravioli (cheese ravioli, meat sauce, cheese sprinkled on top)

peas and carrots cooked soft (I get the broccoli concern)

Whole wheat rolls, butter

Bananas, little oranges, apples sauce cups 

cookies (bag the cookies so if someone wants to take a roll some fruit and a couple cookies to go they can?)

 

 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

How does this sound:

Salad: lettuce, cucumber, tomato, Italian dressing on the side.

Baked ravioli (cheese ravioli, meat sauce, cheese sprinkled on top)

peas and carrots cooked soft (I get the broccoli concern)

Whole wheat rolls, butter

Bananas, little oranges, apples sauce cups 

cookies (bag the cookies so if someone wants to take a roll some fruit and a couple cookies to go they can?)

 

 

 

 

This sounds great!

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52 minutes ago, Rachel said:

I’ve never served at a shelter but I prepare dinner for the Ronald McDonald house and the Cancer Society house a few times every year. It seems weird as a side but applesauce, especially at the Cancer Society house is appreciated. We get so many comments that it’s nice to have something easy to swallow, apparently chemo makes it hard to swallow. With dental problems being common in shelters, maybe applesauce would be appreciated there too.  

Great idea. And homemade applesauce is so easy and delicious!

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48 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

How does this sound:

Salad: lettuce, cucumber, tomato, Italian dressing on the side.

Baked ravioli (cheese ravioli, meat sauce, cheese sprinkled on top)

peas and carrots cooked soft (I get the broccoli concern)

Whole wheat rolls, butter

Bananas, little oranges, apples sauce cups 

cookies (bag the cookies so if someone wants to take a roll some fruit and a couple cookies to go they can?)

 

 

 

 

Fabulous!! I think that’s a great menu, healthy while being tasty with lots of good sides.

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14 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

I’m not that game but I’d probably do baked potatoes and toppings in non-Covid times. 

In addition or instead?  I am actually not sure how they are serving.  Like are they plating and delivering or are people lining up?

i emailed and asked all this but I need to shop!  

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We cook for a homeless shelter for young adults with a group of other families.  My mom and dad used to run a feeding program for homeless people and now I also volunteer to cook dinner at my church for a shelter so I have a lot of experience cooking for large groups. 

I often think that the desire for “healthy food” is coming *from staff and volunteers*. I focus on appealing, delicious foods as I find the instinct to make people eat a certain way to be a bit paternalistic.  

IME having both been homeless as a child and worked with homeless people most of my adult life in one way or the other, clients appreciate food where no one is skimping on the meat and cheese and other calorie dense options.  Because we have a vegan volunteer and the group we are feeding is younger, we do make a vegan option (10 meals).  The other 70-90 meals are not vegan.  

Here are the menus we have done recently:

Jumbalaya

Stirfry 

Burritos (these are a big hit- we make them the size of Chipotle burritos, wrap in foil and box them up with chips, salsa, sour cream packets, veggies etc) tip:  get the 12 inch tortillas from a restaurant supply store and fill with rice, meat, beans and cheese.  

BLTs with picnic salads as the side 

Baked pastas (always a hit)

Bacon Mac and Cheese with roasted broccoli on the side.  

Hot dogs with picnic salads on the side - get the large dogs and buns, wrap in foil and serve with the fixings in the side.  

Sometimes we buy fried and baked chicken from the deli and serve that with salads and coleslaw on the sides- everyone chips in money for the chicken. 

we have been using little containers and paper boxes dying Covid so everything is grab and go.  

We also always do cans of sparkling water, dessert and often some cut fruit.  

The group we cook with all preps their portions and drops off everything to the church for serving.  We use Meal Train to coordinate who is cooking or buying what.  You might find that your friends and neighbors would be happy to chip in either money or part of the cooking.  

Edited by LucyStoner
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1 hour ago, BaseballandHockey said:

How does this sound:

Salad: lettuce, cucumber, tomato, Italian dressing on the side.

Baked ravioli (cheese ravioli, meat sauce, cheese sprinkled on top)

peas and carrots cooked soft (I get the broccoli concern)

Whole wheat rolls, butter

Bananas, little oranges, apples sauce cups 

cookies (bag the cookies so if someone wants to take a roll some fruit and a couple cookies to go they can?)

 

 

 

 

Sounds great!  

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12 minutes ago, LucyStoner said:

We cook for a homeless shelter for young adults with a group of other families.  My mom and dad used to run a feeding program for homeless people so I have a lot of experience cooking for large groups. 

I often think that the desire for healthy food is coming *from staff and volunteers*. I focus on appealing, delicious foods as I find the instinct to make people eat a certain way to be a bit paternalistic.  

IME having both been homeless as a child and worked with homeless people most of my adult life in one way or the other, clients appreciate food where no one is skimping on the meat and cheese and other calorie dense options.  Because we have a vegan volunteer and the group we are feeding is younger, we do make a vegan option (10 meals).  The other 70-90 meals are not vegan.  

Here are the menus we have done recently:

Jumbalaya

Stirfry 

Burritos (these are a big hit- we make them the size of Chipotle burritos, wrap in foil and box them up with chips, salsa, sour cream packets, veggies etc) tip:  get the 12 inch tortillas from a restaurant supply store and fill with rice, meat, beans and cheese.  

BLTs with picnic salads as the side 

Baked pastas (always a hit)

Bacon Mac and Cheese with roasted broccoli on the side.  

Hot dogs with picnic salads on the side - get the large dogs, wrap in foil and serve with the fixings in the side.  

Sometimes we buy fried and baked chicken from the deli and serve that with salads and coleslaw on the sides- everyone chips in money for the chicken. 

we have been using little containers and paper boxes dying Covid so everything is grab and go.  

We also always do cans of sparkling water, dessert and often some cut fruit.  

The group we cook with all preps their portions and drops off everything to the church for serving.  We use Meal Train to coordinate who is cooking or buying what.  You might find that your friends and neighbors would be happy to chip in either money or part of the cooking.  

 

 


 

Thank you!

I initially picked the ravioli with meat sauce because it’s yummy, and not too hard, and it has that meat and cheese caloric thing.

But the reality is that whatever I send I am forcing some idea about what a meal should look like.  Especially because I think they might be plating for the men because of covid.  So, I think I will just default to cooking like I cook for my household which is all men or future men of various ages, just like this place. 

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2 hours ago, BaseballandHockey said:

In addition or instead?  I am actually not sure how they are serving.  Like are they plating and delivering or are people lining up?

i emailed and asked all this but I need to shop!  

Eh just in answer to what I would do if I had to because I’m not a very adventurous caterer.  What you’re doing sounds great.

Edited by Ausmumof3
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