Tips for cooking for large numbers

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Cooking for 5 people after years of cooking for 1 can be an overwhelming task. These are moments when your grandmother‘s recipe book comes in handy. How about a big leap to preparing 3 meals for 150 adults?

The YWAM (Youth With A Mission) campus catering numbers are constantly changing and they can change every 3 months. They go up and down and you are constantly having to tweak the recipes up and down. Then there is the YWAM Kitchen budget. The Finance department seems to always expect the “feeding of the 5000” miracle even when the kitchen manager is screaming: “Look at me, I am not Jesus!”

It is the small budget and the big numbers that can slowly transform “love for the kitchen” to “death by kitchen”. The same challenges can also make the YWAM kitchen a place of adventure; satisfying and even fulfilling. Maybe sending you home feeling each day like a Super Human.

10 Tips

Here are a few tips to get your cooking nightmares into adventure and fun.

  1. Numbers. Know how many people you are cooking for each day. It helps to have an estimate number of people you are catering for beforehand, even if the number is going to go up by mid week.
  2. Have a menu to work with. You cannot turn stones to bread when you have 4 hours before lunch.
  3. Check if your menu contains all the basic nutritional values to keep your mission field healthy.
  4. Make sure your recipes are easy to multiply.
  5. Order in advance or go ingredient shopping a few days before you have to cook.
  6. Have a budget. If your budget is tight, cheap is not bad but you will only know your options if you do some window shopping. Not everything with a cheap price tag is the best value and not everything on the sale table is what you are looking for.
  7. Know your fruit and vegetable seasons. Fruits and veggies tend to be cheaper if they are in season than off-season, so plan your meals on what’s readily available at a reasonable price.
  8. Minimize on leftovers, always plan for ten more depending on your campus traffic. Always ask and observe what people like and don’t like. Your skills and talents are too valuable for feeding garbage bins and it’s not good use of your time and your budget as well.
  9. As much as you can go basic. Basic is not bad, we all eat it at home just keep to the food pyramid. Leave gourmet meals for the end of the month when you have change in your budget.
  10. Clean your office. The kitchen is your office for those number of hours that you are in it. Make sure you bring and build the atmosphere for your creative juices to flow and function. If you have people helping you make sure you remind them to have fun. If it’s too hard to cheer them up, throw them out into the cool room to sort out leftovers. Have fun!