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200 people, fajitas and all the trimmings
I am trying to prepare for my wedding reception. Our family is doing all the purchasing, preparing and cooking.

We are making veggie, beef and chicken fajitas and all the trimmings (I will list all below). There will be chips and salsa on all the tables for snacking prior to the food line starting. Also we are making fruit kabobs for an appetizer and there will be a margarita machine all for the time while we take photos after the ceremony.

There will be 200 people.

Starting with the margaritas how much mix and tequila do I buy for 200 people? some of them are drinkers but some are not. Some will also be bringing there own beer too.

For the fruit kabobs I bought the wooden kabob sticks and plan to cut up pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe and whatever else looks good and maybe add grapes too... What do you suggest? and how much fruit should I buy to make enough for 200 people? how many kabobs should I make?

I found chips by the box at local restaurant for $15 a box.
I don't know how many people a box serves, they said they thought it should cover at least 50, but not sure?
Does that sound about right?
I am thinking of getting 4-5 boxes. What do you think?

My soon to be mother-in-law is making salsa and I have asked her to make enough for three gallon jugs to fill the bowls before we start and 1 quart jar a table on the 6-8 person tables for refillings and 2 jars for the larger tables. Does that sound like enough?

We are planning on buying 37.5 lbs of chicken and 37.5 lbs of beef. Does this sound appropriate with all this other?

I am planning for the veggie fajitas... red, yellow, orange & green bell peppers, poblano peppers, mushrooms, purple and yellow onions, and tomatoes. I am a vegetarian so that is why I am making the veggie fajitas. My fiance loves the veggies too, as does my mom, but both will probably eat more meat. I am wondering how many people would typically eat the veggies? so I can plan on how much to prepare. How much of the veggies should I purchase? and what mix?

I was thinking get about 100 ears of corn to roast (int he husk) and cut them in half so they will serve 200.
We are making spicy butter for Corn... if say 1 tbsp per 1/2 ear of corn = 200 tbsp = 25 sticks = 6.25lbs... Does that sound right?

How many tortillas should I get?
I was thinking about 2-4 per person?? that would be about 400-800... that's a lot of tortillas!
I plan to buy both corn and flour...
What kind of a ratio do you suggest?

My Aunt is making the Spanish Rice in roaster pans. She says each pan should serves about 50 people. So I am guessing we need 4-5 pans.

And I bought 20lbs of dry beans and I think we should probably cook all of those.
I read on another post that 1lb of dry beans makes about 6 1/2 cups of cooked beans...
...and you need about 1/2 cup of cooked beans per person as a side dish...
That would be around 15lbs for 200 people. Is that right?

I checked your taco/potato bar for the following, please confirm...

Sour cream... 1 tbsp x 200 = about 6-7 lbs

Grated cheese... at 2 tbsp x 200 = 6-7 lbs

Pico... 2 tbsp x 200 = 14 lbs (is this right?)
So how many lbs of onions, jalapenos, Roma tomatoes & (bunches of) cilantro would that be?
...about 5 lbs of onions, 5 lbs of jalapenos, 5 lbs of Roma tomatoes & 5 bunches of cilantro? please confirm.

Okay I big question for me is the Guacamole...
What you would suggest?
2 tbsp? how many lbs would that come to at 200 people?
How many Avocados and other stuff (jalapenos, onions...) for 1 lb of Guacamole?

Am I forgetting anything?
Any other suggestions for a first time cooker for a large group??

Thanks for your web site it is a great resource!

Hi, Steph,
You are working hard on this, so I will do all I can for you. It is a good menu, and fairly practical for the less experienced cook. However, it will be several days (possibly the weekend) before I can post a full response.

In the meantime, keep in mind that to prepare, set up, serve and clean up 200 people, even buffet style, takes at least 3 people in the kitchen and 12-15 servers for the DAY OF, and none of these should be the bride or immediate bride or groom families, especially the mom and mom-in-law, as they will be so preoccupied by the food that they will lose the joy of the wedding. An experienced church lady kitchen manager or two, or other hired employees, are invaluable. The usual stipend is about $100 for the servers and something more for the cooks/managers.

Also, you need MAJOR kitchen and refrigerator/cooler space (like 3 home kitchens or a commercial or church or cafeteria kitchen) to do it; have you got this in mind?

Thanks, I love veggie fajitas and thought they (and meat ones) would be easy but all the sides and the prep seems to be the real work.

We have a former restaurant owner and cook doing the cooking the fajitas (my fiance's cousin's husband) and overseeing the two days of prep and the day of serving line set up. He has also done BBQ competitions and cooked for large groups. I trust him for the beans and meat. I also have other cousins and aunts on his side and friends of mine that will be helping with sides, prep of all and keeping the serving line full and organized... only about 6 (very organized, high energy, get things done ladies) that I know of so far. I will try to round up more. The wedding is April 24th.

We plan to have all the chips and salsa on the tables when guests arrive at 4pm. I thought about putting press-n-seal over the chip bowls to keep them fresh?

The sides will all be prepared already and the meat and veggies will cooked just before our 5:30pm dinner line starts.

We are at a outdoor location. All of the serving and guest tables will be outside. It is set up for parties with a pavilion and a gazebo and a small house to get ready in. There is an outdoor cook area with large pit/grills, counters and sink. There is one refrigerator in the kitchen of the main party room area (it's a large screened room with kitchen area at one end) that we can use to store things like the butter, SC, gauc and pico in.

This area also has a stove to keep rice warm.

We planned to have propane burners out by the cook area to do the beans.

For extra storage warm and cold we will have lots of large ice chests.

We have a lot of people that will be helping the two days prior, for prep and decorating. I am wondering what can be done when?

I think gauc has to be done morning of? pico maybe too? I know these are not very good if refrigerated for long, I hate tomatoes refrigerated. Any suggestions on what to do ahead of time and how to keep it fresh?

How do you suggest we warm the tortillas? My mom was wondering if we could lay them in a dish towel and put them in a crock pot on warm?

Thanks again. I look forward to hearing back from you this weekend!! :)

Thought I should also explain that this is not a fancy wedding with real silverware and ceramic plates and servers and such...

It is a simple county style outdoor wedding with all disposable plastic ware, plates, cups, napkins, aluminum serving pans, etc... It is buffet style, get your own refills and clean your own tables and such.

We do plan to have separate tables and areas for each drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), coffee, cakes, appetizers, extra chips and salsa...

We planned to have the plates, tortillas, meats and veggie fajitas all one one table with same stuff on both sides so there will be two lines for the people.

Same set up for the sides and fixin's.

Do you think that this will reduce the number of people we need to help?

I am still going to try to get as many as I can and no immediate family or wedding party people.

Also we plan to have most of the sides and fixin's made up ahead of time. I was hoping this would help with storage and kitchen requirements... As they are very limited at this location (the facilities described in my last post).

Hope this information helps explain our situation a little better. Again I anxiously look forward to your guidance and information. Thank you SO much!!! :)

It sounds like you have the right kind of help and a good place to do this party.

Before getting down to the food, a few notes about setting up the cooking and serving.

You are headed in the right direction with a two sided table but the rule of thumb is that you can serve 50 people per line if you want everyone to sit down about the same time- so you need 4 lines, or 2 2-sided table setups for 200 people. You allow 1 banquet size table for each 3 dishes, so each line would be at least 2 tables long, and with the menu you have planned 3 tables long would not be too much. You would have the beverages and the desserts either already on the tables, or set up separately, and of course the cake or cakes on their own.

Also, I would do the beans in electric roasters if you can set this up. They are MUCH less likely to scorch and to hold with the right temperature all the way through.

Yes the guac and pico are best done the morning of. You can keep the pico on ice rather than refrigerated, you will be happier with the result. For the guac, ideally you have 1/2 a small avocado per person; around here we can get refrigerated vacuum packed already peeled halves and they are terrific for this- check with restaurant supply/ produce wholesalers, less costly, they do these in larger bags. I use very little other stuff in my guacamole- a couple of tablespoons of salsa or pico for each avocado. Do look at my texmex page for recipes and ideas for salsas, pico de gallo, etc.

I would double the shredded cheese and sour cream, people use a lot when there are so many good things to spread it over.

Corn/tortilla chips, at least 8 pounds per 100, and 10 would not be too much.

Tortillas, 2 corn plus 2 flour per person. This method, recommended by Frontera kitchens, works pretty well:

Steam-heating a Large Amount of Tortillas: Set up a rack in a large roasting pan, pour in about 1/2 inch of water and cover the rack with a heavy (preferably terrycloth) kitchen towel (it shouldn’t touch the water or it will act as a wick, soaking the bottom layer of tortillas). Divide your tortillas into stacks of 10 or 12 over the cloth, cover with a second cloth, cover the pot tightly and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Time 1 minute, turn off the heat and let stand 15 minutes without opening the lid. You may put the roasting pan in a low oven (not hotter than 200 degrees) and keep the tortillas warm for about an hour or so. Plan to heat a few extra tortillas that you’ll need, since the top and bottom ones reheated by this method tend to get so soft they fall apart.

About the margaritas. Use the beverage planning page to calculate the amount of tequila you need for the length of the party, then buy the mix sufficient to mix that amount of tequila. Purchase the tequila from a supplier who will allow you to return unopened bottles, then if everyone does not drink, you will be able to return it.

As for the fajitas, you want to have an equal weight of mixed peppers and onions mixed with each of the meats, or the meats will not last- about 40 pounds total with each meat. Then I would do 20 pounds of the veggie fajita mix, as people will also take it as a veggie side dish. Large portabello mushrooms, sliced in long slices are great this way.

Corn and butter sound about right, you might add 10 extra ears in case some folks want seconds.

Consider just doing nice fruit trays instead of kabobs; much easier to make and store, keep better; if you want to do a few kabobs for decoration, that would be cute. See the fruit tray page for help; you would want about 6 times the tray for 25. You could do mango in place of some of the melon.

Do add dinner level coffee service; people like it with cake and it is also wise after margaritas...

I will think about this some more, but this is the main stuff you need to know.

Thank you so much. This is a great help! I will get to figuring this and check back later if you have any additional thoughts. I think we just might pull this off ;)