If you are hosting a party for a crowd, cooking a healthy meal can be an expensive, time-consuming process. It can also be rewarding. Instead of just calling for a pizza delivery or popping some frozen snacks into the oven, put together a menu that will impress your friends, nourish them and leave them feeling satisfied. A healthy meal for a large group doesn’t have to consume you if you plan ahead.
When you are preparing for a party, the source of your ingredients will determine how much you spend and how tasty your meal is. A local farmer’s market is a convenient location to purchase your ingredients inexpensively, especially during the summer and warm months. Fresh ingredients make your dishes tastier. Bulk food or warehouse stores are another inexpensive place to pick up ingredients for your meal for a crowd. Also keep an eye out for sales; you may want to change your menu based on what you find at low prices.
Keep It Simple
After spending money on all the fresh ingredients, let them shine. Put together fresh meals with few ingredients that let flavors come through. Roasted vegetables, for instance, require just olive oil, salt and pepper. Top pieces of whole-grain toast or crackers with a slice of cheese and fruit or vegetables. For a simple dessert, serve fresh fruit topped with homemade whipped cream.
Make It in Advance
Although frozen snacks are convenient, they are often full of preservatives, too much salt and other unhealthy ingredients. Give yourself convenience by making items in advance. Chop vegetables a day in advance. If you are making a healthy casserole or lasagna, prep it weeks in advance and pop it in your freezer to cook on the day of event.
Give your guests a variety of options by serving a series of meal components. Instead of offering a bunch of entrees, have an appetizer, soup or salad, entree and dessert. Your appetizers may consist of kabobs of vegetables or fruit on a toothpick or crackers with simple toppings. A soup or salad gives you a chance to finish preparing the entree and lets your guests fill up on healthy veggies.
Ask for Help
If you are making a big meal or serving a lot of people, don’t hesitate to ask others to pitch in. You can keep it healthy by asking them to bring fresh ingredients. Or have a salad bar potluck by asking everyone to bring their favorite vegetable that can be eaten raw. Provide a base such as lettuce or spinach. Have a few healthy dressings, such as a vinaigrette and an olive oil based dressing, on hand.