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Thread: Want to help me plan a menu for 200 Homeless Folks?

  1. #1

    Want to help me plan a menu for 200 Homeless Folks?

    Our church often cooks for a homeless shelter (bi-monthly). To make a long story short, I kinda volunteered myself and my mom to head up next month's meal.

    We need to come up with a meal plan for 200 in addition to food shopping and recruiting additional cooks and servers! To offset the cost to the church I was planning to ask area grocery stores (including Whole Foods and Trader Joe's) for food donations.

    Armed with a few preliminary ideas, I was hoping you would help me brainstorm healthy and economical meal ideas that can be made a few days ahead and reheated.

    Here are some of my early ideas for the main entree:

    1. Several hams (ideally donated by local stores) and scalloped or au gratin potatoes.

    2. Chicken pot pie (made in large pans)

    3. Roasted or baked chicken (breasts, thighs, legs, etc...)...what sort of recipe, I don't know.

    Sides could include veggies and salad. For dessert, I was thinking about apple crisp.

    I would love to hear your menu ideas and learn from the experience of others who had similar experiences!


  2. #2


    A few years back, I remember assisting with a similar meal. One fellow in our parish had a very good recipe for Brunswick Stew (which he was supposed to share and never did ) and I thought at the time it was a good, nutritious choice. (His was chicken with veggies rather than other types of game) I believe we served that with rolls, a salad and what I seem to recall was chocolate cake. (I'm thinking something like CL's Texas Sheet Cake might go over well.)

    Whatever you end up making I'm confident will be very much appreciated. Best of luck to you!

  3. #3
    Whether you are cooking for 200 homeless folks or 200 middle class homeowners, I think the logistics will be the same. The same sort of food you would prepare for one group of 200 would surely be appreciated by the other. Home cooked food is always appreciated. Kudos to you for volunteering your time and efforts and best wishes for success with your dinner.

    "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt

  4. #4
    Gail & Deanna--thank you both for your comments.

    I know that this dinner should not vary from one that you would serve to a REALLY LARGE NUMBER of family or friends (i.e. serving fresh, wholesome homecooked food)!!

    The logistics of the thing is what scares me since I've never cooked for that many!!!

    Gail--I like your Brunswick stew suggestion. At first, I was thinking about doing a beef stew. DH thinks the people we are serving get enough stews and soups ("afterall, that's why they call it a soup kitchen" says he). Maybe he's right.

    Any other suggestions or opinions?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    San Ramon, CA
    The temple I belong to rotates with other churches/temples in the area to provide food for a shelter. What we do is ask approximately 8 - 10 people to provide a main course that will feed 8-10 people on a specific theme (lasagna, mexican, etc). Then another 8-10 people provide a side dish and a dessert (preferably fruit based). I realize that not everyone will have the same dinner this way, but that there is a lot of variety and it seems to work. Then another group (or the same people) serve and clean up.

    You would probably need to ask more people to cook or have them each cook a double portion since you are feeding 200 people.

    Keep in mind that this might be the only 'hot meal' the adults are receiving. You might ask if there are certain things that regualar show up for dinner and try and avoid them just so the people have variety.
    Democrats are Sexy. Who has ever heard of a good piece of elephant?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    New England
    First,kudos for doing this, what a good person you are.

    What about pasta? Maybe angel hair with marinara sauce? Then serve a salad and breadsticks. What about having different people make different desserts so not only do you have a variety but it distributes the workload. Pies could be made in advance and brought in when time to serve the meal.

    Does the church have a committee, which helps with this? What about annoucing it in the church flyer and recruiting volunteers?

    What about seeking donations from a Walmart Supercenter or Sam's club, even the items you have to buy maybe cheaper at those places.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

    You are doing a wonderful thing.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    San Ramon, CA
    On the subject of recruiting for is my temple's recruitment

    Meals Cooked and Delivered to Local Shelter Families
    Members of the religious communities of Contra Costa County have volunteered to feed families who reside in two emergency family shelters: Mountain View House in Martinez and the Concord Family Shelter. As a part of this effort to provide meals for the homeless families, Temple Isaiah will cook dinner for 5 nights (Monday-Friday) the following weeks:

    October 27-31, 2003
    February 2-6, 2004
    April 19-23, 2004
    For each night, we will need at least 6 people to prepare dinner for approximately 60 people, 3 people to transport the food from the Temple to the shelters, and 2 people to warm and serve the food.

    It than gives the contact names as well.
    Democrats are Sexy. Who has ever heard of a good piece of elephant?

  8. #8


    Those people are blessed to have you guys, and you all are blessed too.

    Seems like you guys have all the basis covered. Excellent menu and suggestions. I would bake the chicken as that is less likely to cause any health concerns.

  9. #9
    Your menu looks very good to me and I believe the people will appreciate it. For the roasted chickens you can use salt, black pepper and thyme or poultry seasoning. Put pieces of butter on top of them and baste every 15-20 min during roasting. If needed add a little more seasoning. Sometime I like to pour a little chablis over them and in the pan during the last 30 min of baking (if this is not problem with the church). Other ideas for entrees could be chicken and dumplings, meat loaf, chili, yankee pot roast, pork barbeque. For sides you can have baked beans, red beans and rice, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, steamed veggies,etc. My husband's family lives in the South and these are the foods I have seen served on their gatherings. I myself am not an American and my observations are limited.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    West of Boston, MA
    Our church does this, too, and the coordinator has figured out how many pans of whatever she will need, and then rounds up that many volunteers to cook. We have done a baked chicken/potato/tomato dish; pop-up pizza; stews. She gives everyone the recipe, and asks us to double it and put it in a very large aluminum pan, which I would assume serves about 15-20 people. A few volunteers make similar size pans of salad. Every person's "casserole" always looks different, but you can't get hung up on that. Those we feed are very appreciative. Good luck! Let us know what you end up doing.

    BTW, sometimes the larger supermarket chains are more willing to give... I don't know where you are, but Stop and Shop; Tops; or whatever your national chain is there should be pretty generous, if only with the aluminum pans or something like that.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    wakefield, ma . usa
    Good for you. I cook once a month for the Stoneham senior/ homeless citizens. Our count usually has about 75 pp. We have the local Pepperidge farms outlet donate bread - enough for meal and more for people to take home and the boy or girls scout usually donate baked goodies. Several items that I rotate on are - French Beef Stew, BBQ chicken with mashed potatoes and veg, Turkey tetrazzini, meatloaf with potato and veg, stir fry beef and veg with rice, tuna casserole, sloppy joes with chips, turkey pot pie ( bisquick on top is best ) over rice and pork cutlets with potato and veg. On times that I don't cook the other ladies bring in American Chop Suey. I usually buy about 20 lbs of meat and there always seem to be alot left. Best of luck.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    San Ramon, CA
    Don't know if you still need ideas...but this is what we are doing in February

    Here's the menu:
    Monday: We've got the main dish covered, we just need broccoli and dessert
    Tuesday Chicken dish (not in sauce) or rice, carrots and dessert
    Wednesday Meatloaf and gravy or mashed potatoes, green beans and dessert
    Thursday Enchiladas, burritos or Mexican casserole or corn and dessert
    Friday Spaghetti and meatballs or salad and dessert

    I think Monday was Mac and Cheese but I'm not sure since I signed up for broccoli and dessert.
    Democrats are Sexy. Who has ever heard of a good piece of elephant?

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