This year we accidentally started a new tradition; we now host the Offensive Line + a few other guys every Wednesday for a family-style dinner. It’s nothing fancy― there are no tablescapes, fresh flowers, or even real plates (except for that one time), It’s just the guys, their wives/ girlfriends and kids gathered around my kitchen table and stuffed in my living room eating and enjoying each others company away from the stress of the job.
Read about the LAST TIME I FED THE OLINE:
HOW IT ALL STARTED
At first it was:
Jeff: “Hey babe, can a few guys come over for dinner?”
Me: “Sureeeeee. Sounds great, how many”
Jeff: “Maybe 6…”
6 grew to 9, which grew to 12, and our high 21 + 4 kids. I love it. One of my favorite things to do is dance around the kitchen and prep dinner for friends and family. The menu is always spontaneous and cookies are an after dinner requirement.
Since I started hosting dinner and documenting it on Instagram, I get a ton of questions. I thought would answer them here!
Q:How do you know how much to make?
A: It obviously depends on how many we are expecting plus some for leftovers or unexpected visitors. The first couple dinners, I GROSSLY overestimated how much food I needed. Once, someone was a little off on their count and we barely had enough. Always err on the side of too much.
Something I like to do is provide cheap take-home containers. Some of the guys pack up the leftovers for lunch or dinner the following days.
These men can eat. I make about 2 servings per person on the protein. So when I made chicken parmesan, I assumed they would all eat 2 chicken breast.
When making enough sides, ALWAYS err on the side of more. Good sides can fill people up requiring less of the main dish. I go off the notion that everyone will at least want to taste each side. A taste is about half a serving to me. Someone will find something they really like and go back for more but if there are 20 people coming I make 15-18 servings of everything.
Our Offensive Line Chicken Parmesan Dinner (about 12 guys+ 3 girls) required 28 chicken breasts, 4 pounds of spaghetti, 140 oz. marinara sauce, 2 stuffed bags of salad, and 16 oz. of salad dressing.
Our fajita/ Enchilada Dinner (about 21 people and 4 kids): 4 pans of enchiladas= 32 large enchiladas, 15 pounds of chicken breast, 6 pieces of skirt steak, 24 tortillas, 6 onions, 7 peppers, 6 avocados, 4 tomatoes, 6 jalapeno peppers, 4 pounds of shredded cheese, 5 heads of romaine lettuce, 20 cups of cooked rice, and 64 oz. beans.
Both of those dinners yielded a few leftovers but for the most part, the numbers were spot on.
Q: How do you decide the menu?
A. This is something I’m still working on. I try to cook recipes from my blog but I look for something that is easy to keep warm, cost conscious, and doesn’t have too much extensive prep work. Large trays of pasta have proved to be the easiest. I also avoid anything too spicy. When you are planning your menu, start with what you have.
A. For example, I have 2 ovens, a 6 burner stove, a grill, and like 4 crockpots. If you have 1 oven, Don’t pick a meal that has to be completely prepared in the oven. Instead of roasting your vegetables, can they be steamed or sautéed? Look for things that can be prepared on the stove and finished in a crock pot.
Host without a plan? Here are some good recipes to try!
Cilantro Lime Chicken and Mexican Couscous Salad
Q: How long does it take to prep all the food?
A. Dinner always starts at 6:30pm and I usually start prep around 1:30 or 2pm. I actually think I could do it a little quicker if I wasn’t wrangling babies.
Q. Where do you buy all the food?
A. Mostly SAMs Club and HEB. If I forget anything, I use InstaCart! I typically write out the menu and take it with me to the store. If you are forgetful, maybe spell out every ingredient for each recipe.
- Depending on the size of your cooking space, designate sections for each dish. I move around my kitchen as opposed to moving all the tools and food around.
- I have gotten to the point that I only take the cutting board out once. If I’m going to need onion for several dishes, I go ahead and chop up several onions, mince a ton of garlic, slice all the pepper and tomatoes, etc. I store them in little bowls and just use as much as I need.
- Clean up after you prep a dish. I try to put up everything and wash the bowls and utensils I used. I then turn around and use them for the next dish instead of dirtying more dishes.
- Certain dishes I serve right out of the pan/ pot they were cooked in. If you will be using serving dishes, Take them out FIRST. You don’t want to be fishing around for dishes when your guests start arriving.
- Make sure you have enough plates and utensils! Everyone will go through at least 2 plates, maybe 3 if you serve dessert or appetizers before the meal. (I forgot this crucial step once; we had to use real plates– we were washing A LOT of dishes!)
Now I’m no caterer; all of these tips and tidbits are just from my own experience. I hope this encourages you to invite someone over for dinner!
Allie @ Miss Allie's Kitchen says
I got chills reading this! You are the sweetest and I love reading your story. Oh my gosh too precious. There’s nothing like feeding a room full of boys. I send food in with my boyfriend to work and his coworkers send me little notes requesting certain things haha. They call me “Princess Allie”. Warms your heart to feed others!
Thank you for reading! Yes, it’s definitely my way of showing love. Guys appreciate a good home cooked anything! You are so sweet to send food though, I’m sure your boyfriend is a favorite around the office.