Thursday, July 11, 2013

Big Families, Big Pans

I thought I'd write a note about cooking for a family of ten.  Already our family is starting to shrink, with Alec at boot camp and Chris spending the summer as a scout camp counselor.  Trent works most evenings, so I don't have to cook for him, either.  And if Ben is gone galavanting, the house feels so empty that I wonder if it is worth making dinner at all!  Keep in mind that when these four are gone, we "only" have six mouths to feed, but the rest of us eat less than the man and the teenaged boys do!

So I shall remind myself what it is like to cook a large meal.  I will need this information again, because Alec will be home for Christmas, and I'll have all ten again.  Hooray!

Potatoes - my mother taught me to cook a medium potato for eat person, plus a couple.  This rule of thumb works pretty well for us, even considering that the youngest three might split one potato between them.  Leftover baked potatoes not bad to have around.  If I am making mashed potatoes, however, I should use five potatoes just for Chris.  Extra mashed potatoes can easily be made into potato patties for breakfast, or used to thicken a soup.  As if we ever had leftover mashed potatoes!

Pasta - two pounds are good for a meal with a salad.  And about that much sauce.  I rarely measure - I just make it until the pasta is moist but not soggy.

Meat - we don't eat much meat as a solo entree.  We do use meat in other dishes, though.  For a barbecue, the bigger boys will easily eat three burgers a piece.  Total burgers = 18 to 20.  For the meat we use in a dish such as tacos, 2-3 pounds is a bare minimum.  Trent likes to stretch the meat by adding oatmeal, beans, rice, or corn (or whatever else he finds in the fridge), which gets lukewarm reviews.

Cereal -  a big bag for breakfast, if we are in a hurry.  Cold cereal is our Sunday morning go-to breakfast, because it is quick ans self-serve.  If we are having a slower breakfast, it may be closer to two bags.  For hot cereal, we usually use about 5-6 cups of dry oatmeal/farina (which is cooked with a 1:2 ratio with water) or 4-5 cups of cracked wheat/six grain/steel cut oats (cooked with a 1:3 ratio with water).  Yeah, it goes in the big pot.  If we are having eggs and hot cereal, then use half that amount.

Bread - if everyone is home, we can easily polish off three loaves of bread daily: one for breakfast toast and two loaves for lunch sandwiches.  If we are hungry, add another loaf.  If the bread is fresh and hot, coming right out of the oven, subtract an entire loaf with butter and jam right there!  Trent usually makes a 4-loaf batch of bread about every three days.

Eggs - 18 for breakfast, as long as we have other things with the eggs, like sausage and toast.

Condiments - a big (big!) bottle of salsa will last us for a month.  A bottle of mayo is gone in a week.  Ditto with peanut butter and barbecue sauce.  A pound of butter might last a week, unless we make cookies or other nummy things.  A quart of jam will last a couple of weeks, though.

Drinks - we can guzzle a gallon of juice (slightly less of milk) at a meal, so usually we just have water.  Tastes great, and is less filling.

Ice cream - evaporates around here.  Just always have one of those big gallon tubs on hand.  Or two or three, because we can easily eat a whole tub for dessert.  Especially if it's strawberry and Ben is home.

Produce - a dozen apples will do us for lunch.  An entire head of lettuce makes a nice dinner salad, with a quarter head of cabbage, some cukes or tomatoes, and three or four good carrots thrown in.  Plan on a dozen bananas for breakfast.  I'll use two bags (2 pounds) of frozen veggies for a dinner.  Medium-sized fruit (apples, peaches, oranges, etc.) go one per person.  A medium watermelon will work for a dinner and lunch the next day - unless we are thirsty or outside - and then we'll eat it all up!

Containers - two 9x13 pans are required for casseroles.  For German pancakes or something fluffy, we need three 9x13 pans.  One 9x13 for cake (and we'll polish it off).  I love the big bowls my sister-in-law got for us!  They are big enough for a large salad - and I don't have to serve pasta out of the pan.

Cooking for a big group doesn't really take much more time - you just need bigger dishes and bigger sizes and a bigger table and a bigger mindset!  Cleaning up, however, is a different story.


  1. Oh...what a trip down memory lane! Dinner used to be for 9, but now is 3-4. Have to laugh at the quantities. Our boys were not big eaters--22oz. of pasta was the size for us, but the weekly milk delivery was a whopping 9 gallons and we had to ration it out even then. You gotta know we were the milkman's favorite customer!

    1. So you have survived the daily kitchen cacophony? Brava to you, Bonnie!

      Yes on the milk. I'm not exactly sure how much we drink, but it might be a gallon a day if we take it easy (only have it for one meal). We cheat, though, and use powdered milk!