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Cook Talk

Hi Ellen!

We are getting married in our back yard and with the help of some really great friends we are catering it ourselves. The guest list includes 75 adults and 30 kids. We are doing smoked pulled pork sandwiches with slaw as well as 5 cold salads. (We'll also be doing marinated mushroom cap sandwiches for the 5 vegetarians)

How many pounds of pork shoulder should we buy?

How many pretzel buns should we buy?

How many pounds of cold salad should we make?
We were thinking a potato salad, caprese pasta salad, quinoa salad, broccoli salad & cucumber mint salad with creamy lemon yogurt vinaigrette.

We're also doing various cookies for dessert as well as apples with homemade caramel sauce.

Do we have all of our bases covered?

My only suggestion, especially with the kids, is you have an appetizer table ready and here is why:

A self-catered buffet is a real challenge to the organizers, and things don't always come together as smoothly as hoped. By planning and setting up an appetizer area or "nibble table" which is ready when the guests begin to arrive, the cooks and servers have time to complete the arrangement of the dinner buffet. This is especially critical if there are children among the guests, or there is a wait before dinner, as at a wedding reception.

This does not have to be complicated. Three items, plus a punch, or two if one is alcoholic, are sufficient. Typically, include a fruit tray, a cheese tray and an attractive dip or spread; or you can go with a dinner theme such as TexMex with chips, salsas, Texas caviar and guacamole; Italian with bruschetta or antipasto; maybe shrimps or other cold seafood, if budget permits.

One appetizer service area is needed for each 100 guests.

Kids really go for the fruit tray, see the fruit tray page, and the chips- you need 1 pound per 12 guests and 1 pint dip or salsa per pound.

Now to dinner salads

potato salad, 4 gallons, about 35 pounds potatoes if unpeeled, such as a trendy new potato salad
caprese pasta salad, 3 gallons, about 4 pounds dry pasta
quinoa salad, 1 1/2 gallons
broccoli salad & vinaigrette, 2 gallons
cucumber mint salad with creamy lemon yogurt, about 5 quarts

I generally start with 1 pound boneless meat for 4 people, for these sandwiches, so 25-28 pounds. It shrinks, but the sauce adds back.
Each pounds ends up making 5 regular buns, get the buns to match your weight at 5 per pound, but if you do smaller buns, 2 per person at 8 per pound.

BBQ sauce for the tables- a bottle on each

For the cookies and bars, do smallish ones if you do 3-4 flavors- people like to take 1 of each- make some with no nuts. Most freeze well, if made ahead.

This is such a pleasant, doable plan; it will take about 3 people in the kitchen and about 6 people to set up, serve, and clean up.

If this saves you time, trouble, or money, please make a donation, maybe a dime per guest, to support this site.

The beverage planning page will help with beverages.

This is very helpful! Thank you!
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