5 Great Meal Ideas for Parties and Family Gatherings

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Planning a big meal is tough if you want to do it without falling back to the same old things. Pizza, hamburgers, and hot dogs are all good options, but they have been done many times. Pulling away from familiar territory is challenging, but these five ideas can get you on the right track.


1. Homemade Barbecue


For years, certain kinds of barbecue were only available at restaurants or to people who invested a lot of time and money in a smoker. Today there are electric smokers that create that same great smoky flavor with a much smaller price tag. They hold enough meat to easily feed a large group of people. Add simple sides like baked beans and coleslaw to make a meal on par with what you’d find in Kansas City or Memphis.


2. Cold Cut Buffet


It may sound a little too simple at first, but sandwiches can be a great option for get-togethers. Instead of the same old meats, check a local deli’s offerings. Many meats now come with terrific add-on flavors, and you can also provide some different condiments like flavored mustards or horseradish sauce. If you provide some vegetarian patties, other meat alternatives, and gluten-free options, you can make a buffet that everyone can enjoy. Serve it all up with Kaiser rolls and you’ve got something new and exciting.


3. Beef Roast


This may sound like a big undertaking, but good planning can make it easy. Beef roasts of any kind–chuck, sirloin, round, or whatever you find–can easily serve a large crowd. They make a great choice for chilly fall nights, maybe before a family game of flag football. Roast the meat with onions, potatoes, and carrots for a great meal that serves a big crowd.


4. Soup Bar


Speaking of cold nights, no meal is better as the mercury drops than a steaming bowl of hot soup. Forget the canned stuff, though. The best way to feed a big crowd with soups is to find a great recipe like cheesy potato soup, French onion soup, or even just a great chili. Give it a test run before your company comes, and be sure to include toppings like cheese, bacon, green onions, and of course, crackers. If you can’t cook the whole thing yourself, throw a soup party and have folks bring a soup to share.


5. Seafood Boil


Along the coast, they know how to feed a big crowd–and how to do it simply. A delicious mix of crab, lobster, shrimp, potatoes, corn, and sausage, a seafood boil is easy to make and easy to customize. It’s a simple meal that requires a minimum of cookware, and it lets even the most finicky guests easily choose only the items they like.


A little preparation and creativity go a long way when your food has to go a long way, too. Make your next big meal something creative and delicious. There’s much more in the world of cooking of course, but these options can provide a great baseline depending on what your gathering is.

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