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How to manage cooking for a crowd

Hosting family and friends for special occasions requires a lot of hosts, who must prepare their homes for guests or find establishments capable of catering to large parties. For hosts inviting people into their homes, the task of preparing homemade meals adds to their list of responsibilities.

Cooking for a crowd can be rewarding. Hosts can see the fruits of their labors on the faces of their satisfied guests, and few things make guests feel more welcome than a homecooked meal. Managing such a large undertaking can be difficult, but there are ways to simplify cooking for a crowd.

• Do the math beforehand. Hosts who are preparing a favorite recipe but on a much grander scale than they're accustomed to should take some time in advance of the big day to determine the equivalent amounts of each ingredient they will need. Write the recipe down and mark it as "serves 25" or however many guests you're inviting, storing it away so you won't have to break out the calculator the next time you host. Once you have figured out the equivalent volumes, check the cupboard to ensure you have enough of each ingredient to prepare the meal.

• Serve something familiar. One of the joys of cooking is experimenting with new cuisine. However, when cooking for a crowd, hosts might want to stick to a dish they have prepared in the past. That familiarity can make cooks feel more comfortable and relaxed when the cooking commences. In addition, cooks may rest easier knowing they're about to serve a dish they have perfected as opposed to something they have never before tried.

• Start prep work early. Begin prep work as early as possible. Depending on the dish being prepared, it might be hard to get too much done more than a day in advance of the festivities. But even removing small tasks from the docket can save cooks time come the big day. If possible, pour out ingredients in the adjusted increments in advance of the big day. Though it seems like a simple task, stopping to pour out each individual ingredient come the big day can take a substantial amount of time.

• Share the responsibilities. Hosts can make their tasks more manageable by sharing the responsibilities of hosting. For example, hosts who are handling the cooking should not also feel responsible to clean their homes. Enlist a spouse, child or even a loved one attending the festivities to handle the chores you don't have time for. By sharing the responsibilities, hosts will ensure no one person is overwhelmed and party prep will go that much faster.

Cooking for a crowd can be exhausting. But hosts can employ several strategies to simplify the process of preparing a large meal for many people.

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