December often brings dinners with friends, holiday gatherings, and houses full of family and visitors. While cooking for a crowd can feel daunting, never fear! Oldways is here to help!
Gathering and sharing meals is a key ingredient of almost all traditional diets—that’s why you’ll ﬁnd it at the foundation of Oldways’ heritage diet pyramids. Research tells us that eating together can help reduce stress, build family relationships, and improve the quality of food choices. And with a few simple recipes and tricks up your sleeve, putting a big meal together doesn’t have to feel stressful.
Are you cooking for a crowd this holiday season? We’ve got you covered—breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Start the day oﬀ with an easy-to-make breakfast. For a warm, savory meal, try making this Vegetable Frittata, which can easily be doubled. You can use whichever vegetables you have in your fridge. A big-batch frittata, baked in the oven instead of over the stove, saves you time, too.
For a fun, customizable breakfast, make a big batch of slow-cooker oatmeal for your household. In the morning, you can set up an easy “oatmeal bar” with toppings. Everyone can assemble their own bowl with diﬀerent nuts, fruits, and spices.
Whole grain muﬃns are an easy breakfast that freezes well, too. Bake a batch of banana muﬃns or these savory muﬃn pan frittatas. Store them well wrapped in your freezer, and thaw as-needed the night before you’d like to serve them to your guests and/or family.
One of the easiest ways to serve lunch for a crowd? Soups and stews! Make a big pot of your favorite soup or stew–add brown rice or another whole grain to make it extra ﬁlling (and healthy)–and serve at lunch time for an easy, one-pot meal for a a crowd. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Hearty Succotash Soup, featuring corn, lima beans, carrots and potatoes. It’s a creamy stew perfect for fall and winter.
- Fasolada, a traditional Greek soup made with white beans, greens and olive oil. If you’re feeding guests with dietary restrictions, this delicious soup just happens to be vegan and gluten-free, too.
- Chicken Tortilla Soup, with chicken, pinto beans, and crunchy whole grain tortilla chips, is a hearty and warming meal. Optional garnishes like cilantro, avocado, and plain Greek yogurt add even more ﬂavor!
- Mafe, a West African stew made with sweet potatoes, zucchini, and a delicious tomato and peanut broth, is one of our favorite winter meals. This one is not to be missed!
When cooking dinner for a crowd, simple and quick is usually best!
These Stir-Fried Whole Grain Noodles with Mushrooms, Kale, and Crumbled Tempeh will be sure to please your friends and family. With whole grains, vegetables, and a protein source all-in-one, this dish comes together in under 30 minutes.
Whole grain pasta is another great meal that will feed many people! Tomato sauce freezes beautifully, so make this easy slow-cooker sauce ahead of time and freeze in jars for when your guests arrive. Or, try this Healthy Pasta Meal a la Freezer, which is very adaptable. Use the vegetables you already have on hand, and as a bonus, you’ll make space in your fridge and freezer before the holidays!
Brown Rice Jambalaya is another great one-pot meal. With chicken, brown rice, and lots of spices, it pairs perfectly with a simple side of sauteed greens. It also reheats very well, so you can make it ahead of time, then reheat and serve throughout the week.
In the spirit of sharing meals and eating together, your guests may also love the opportunity to share a recipe or meal of their own.
Ask your visitors if there’s a dish from their own family or heritage that they would like to share. There’s almost always a great memory or story that will accompany the dish they make! If you’re hosting houseguests, choose a night for everyone to cook together. Divvy up the side dishes, main dishes, and appetizers. If you’re up for some friendly competition, try out a Chopped-style challenge: who can make the most delicious dish with the ingredients available in the kitchen?
Above all, sharing and enjoying each other’s company is the best part of cooking for a crowd. So relax, get your guests involved, pick simple recipes, and don’t sweat the small stuﬀ. Bon appetit!
Want biweekly Heritage Diet information and recipes in your Inbox? Sign up for our Fresh Fridays newsletter by clicking the Subscribe button at the bottom of this page!