BBQ for 70

jeriSeptember 8, 2012

The pizza dinner was canceled, so this will be my first dinner for the High School band. The kids will be on the field practicing their show and the director would like to do a BBQ. There are 2 large gas BBQ's at my disposal.

Aside: After giving this a great deal of thought, I'm thinking a BBQ for a crowd this size is a lot more work than other menu ideas. The director would like to do 5 BBQ meals over the next several weeks...

Goal: With all these meals, my goal is to make it *very* easy to replicate for whom ever my successor will be - 4 years down the road :-)

My biggest hurdle is with quantities. Corn on the cob for example, I know not everyone will take one, but perhaps someone will take 2? Do I just plan on serving 70, or should I go with less? I'd hate to run out, yet I don't want to wast food/money either.

Menu - with quantities I think is appropriate:

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks: 2 per person

Vegetarian Baked Beans: 3/4 cup per person

Corn on the Cobb: 1 small ear

Watermelon Slices: 1 slice per person, 28 slices per melon - 3 melons?

Lemonade & Water

Cookies: 2 per person

Please let me know if you think my quantities are wrong!

Chicken: Thinking about cooking the drumsticks in the oven first, then just finishing them on the grill with the BBQ sauce. My current plan is to season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and cook at 350 for 30 minutes or until the internal temp reaches 160. Then just use whatever sauce CostCo or Smart & Final sells. How much sauce do I need? About 1 cup per 12 drumsticks???

Baked Beans: Just open several cans of Bush's Vegetarian Baked Beans and heat. Lindac, I know you doctor your beans and I am totally open to this if you think I can still make my goal. You have tons more experience at serving crowds on the cheap! Does 3/4 cup per person sound right? So about 13 quarts?

Corn on the Cobb - I found and used this "Cooler Corn" method for my dad's 90th birthday party. It worked like a charm!

Thanks everyone! :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Cooler Corn

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For a high school crowd, I would consider two drumsticks to be an appetizer - I would serve two drumsticks and two thighs per person, or perhaps just two thighs. Not much meat on two drumsticks.

I cannot imagine getting more than 16 small slices from a watermelon, and that's really stretching it. I think you would need five watermelons, and they are cheap anyway at this time of year.

Corn is okay with one ear per person - I don't know about bean portions - but I think you are okay. I served beans to 100 people before, and I don't think I allowed 3/4 cup per person, but then my beans were pretty spicy.

For lemon-aid, I make a concentrate from fresh lemon juice and sugar and then add the water at the last minute. Allow at least two glasses of lemon-aid per person, unless you are in a cold climate.

Cookies are a bonus IMO, and so if you want to offer only two per person, you should ration them rather than offer them randomly.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 9:01PM
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Something is missing, but I can't quite put my finger on it. If I were doing this menu at home for a smaller crowd, I'd make coleslaw plus garlic bread. Are those possible?

My slaw recipe is similar, more vinegar, no bell pepper, but chopped green onions.

Here is a link that might be useful: slaw recipe

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 9:38PM
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I have little to add (except agreement with Lars that 2 drums just isn't enough for teens) and that the band leader is very lucky to have you! BBQ? Yes, for hot dogs and hamburgers, but I think chicken done in the oven is far easier for the cook! I would plan on corn for 70. You just know the boys will inhale whatever is left over! LOL!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 9:38PM
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This is such a hard job! I second guess myself all the time, and truly celebrate any successes.

If I was having a party, I would add lots of stuff, but this is a different venue. The band kids have a field practice from 3 to 8 and need to be fed at 5. It seemed reasonable to follow how I would feed my family on a regular week night. There is no way I would add slaw and garlic bread to this menu for my family. In fact, I would nix one of the sides (beans, corn, or fruit) as well as any dessert. Also, my husband would probably eat 3 legs, but I would only eat 2 and both my girls would only eat one.

How do people make these decisions!?!

Is there a web site or forum for this type of cooking? It's not really catering where the goal is to make everyone happy and have plenty left over; this is feeding a large group on a budget and trying to have very little left over.

Watermelon: Slice it into 4ths lengthwise and slice each 4th into 7 equal wedges. I think this will work.

Are 2 cookies per person not enough???



    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 10:45PM
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What is the ratio of girls to boys?...I am assuming about half and half....but it's band and it might be weighted toward girls.
My thoughts are 1 3/4 drum sticks per person,
Your beans are a good amount, but use the food service cans....lots cheaper than many smaller cans. 3 big cans of beans ought to do it.
I would figure 1 ear of corn per person, but break the ears in half....some will take 1 half...others will take 3 pieces.
Figure the watermelon by the pound....some melons are larger than others! Figure half to 3/4 pound per person.
And I think 2 cookies each is pretty stingy!!!...And I think you need some bread.....but a supermarket French loaf, cut into half lenght wise and then into 1 1/2 inch slices, replace in the foil wrapper and warm on the grill. Guessing you will need 4 loaves.

But....that's what I think they will reality I would have more chicken. At my meat counter they have amazing specials on hind quarters of chicken. You likely can buy leg and thigh portions for $.69 a pound or less. And they are easier to turn on the grill than little legs! I would cut some of the legs and thighs apart and leave some as a leg and a thigh. Figure 3/4 pound of chicken per kid....

I doctor my beans my dumping a #10 can into a baking dish, add a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped onion ( do a couple of onions in the food processor, put them in a tupper and add to the beans) about 3 T brown sugar...or maybe more LOL! I love sweet beans and about 1/2 cup of catsup...bake in an open pan so some of the juice evaporates.
Cook the chicken to 160 as you said in a covered pan in the oven ( 60 pounds of chicken quarters is a lot! Hope you have access to several ovens), chill reheat and crisp on the grill....either serve the sauce on the side....or only sauce are not uniformly crazy about all kinds of BBQ sauce.

Frankly I think the Director has a lot of gall....tell hi8m that you will do what you can....but unless he wants to do it....!

Anyhow thoughts for future dogs in buns, those BBQ beans ( I'll look for the recipe) and kraut....apples and bars.

Whole pork loin...often quite cheap....but not likely with the drought....cooked on the grill sliced on a bun....maybe applesauce on the side....with cookies.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 10:59PM
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See - my problem is that I am not a cook. Those of you who are good cooks can figure this stuff out so much easier. Sigh...

3 cookies per person??? 4???

If I continue with the BBQ's, could I do hamburgers one week, and chili cheese dogs the next? I know most people serve both at one time, but do you think I could get away with this?

I'll probably nix the BBQ's and go with these ideas:

Walking Tacos (Lindac's)
Baked Potato Bar
Pulled Pork

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 11:14PM
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This may be a regional thing, but none of the teens around here will eat baked beans, vegetarian or with pork. Maybe check with your own kids.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 11:23PM
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Mac and cheese might be better than baked beans

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 11:43PM
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In my love baked beans...IF they have enough brown sugar added!!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 1:08AM
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Waving hi to Jeri, one band mom to another. I had the band party at our house last week....53 kids....many of them in the pool and jacuzzi....DH set up an outside projector by the pool and we had hopes they would watch 'Drumline', great movie, but they played instead LOL. Figures.

Anyhoo, I'll share what I've seen done during our August band camps. There was a grill set up and one mom did burgers/dogs for two of the 12 nights that dinners were needed. A lot of work to get kids fed fast. She also had simple green and Caesar salads (Caesar salads always go first), watermelon and grapes, bagged potato chips and/or rolls. Baby carrots. We asked for no cantaloupe because of the salmonella outbreak. Strawberries were popular, as were cut bananas, if there was a parent there to 1/2 or 1/3 them as needed since they do get brown. No apples, if cut, they get brown. Granola bars always went fast as did cookies. I would definitely over-buy anything as it can be served the next day for snack - just make sure you have storage containers and someone to refrigerate them.

Other popular menu items were pizza, pasta, bulk store bought taquitos, and more pasta. Things like chicken wings/drumsticks did not go over well...too messy. We generally kept the food to things that were relatively 'clean' to hold or use a fork. No corn on the cob - canned corn, from the 6 lb can sizes that Linda mentions. Mix it with a bit of salsa to perk it up. The kids also loved Panda Express type huge catered trays of teriyaki chicken, beef, rice, chow mein noodles, veggies that were picked up by parents. Yeah, I think your band director can wish for BBQ every night but there are limits. I'd use the grill to warm up aluminum trays of things like the taquitos and corn.

Another popular item were sandwich wraps (usually store bought) - turkey, ham, vegetarian. Bagels and cream cheese, cut into quarters. Also more kids are vegetarian these days! Our kids love the Countrytime dry mix lemonade - easier to mix up in batch in a five gallon container.

I advise you to get parents to help out setting up, serving, and cleaning up.

I love band kids, they are the greatest....and they are one big family, taking care of each other. *sniff*....this is my last year. I'll keep reading to see if I can answer questions.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 2:12AM
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I have seen very big drumsticks and very small ones.

"----Things like chicken wings/drumsticks did not go over well...too messy.---"

I just came back from an informal outdoor wedding yesterday with over a hundred guests. Basically no one touched the delicious smoked and BBQd drumsticks.


BTW, I was responsible for mosquito control for the party.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:23AM
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These are teenagers? You need to have someone serving the food onto their plates. You definitely need to have more than 2 pieces of chicken per person. I've seen a smallish pre-teen eat 5 pieces of chicken easy.

I'd go with a lighter menu, and one that is easier on you.

BBQ chicken (you could cook at home and then just heat, baste with sauce, and serve off the grill)
Caesar salad (use bag romaine, grated Parmesan, croutons, and mix it all and toss at the site)
Mac and cheese (bake at home, serve warm)
watermelon (take already sliced)
brownies and bar cookies (also take already portioned)

You need to simplify your menus as the band needs to eat quickly and then get out and practice on the field. They don't need heavy food. (I was a band member for more than 6 years, I remember this kind of practice - and we didn't have dinner served to us!) You also have to have someone serve their plates or the first dozen boys will eat it all!


    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:36AM
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Our band cookouts were always hotdogs and hamburgers. Something like bagged chips, watermelon, maybe baked beans and brownies or cookies, and soda. Lemonade is cheaper though.

I once did a fall cookout for a huge crowd at a Nature Center and after hemming and hawing on what to offer, we did two large pork loin roasts done in an oven. That was the cheapest, easiest way to serve a crowd. Could be offered on buns or with barbecue sauce on the side. I also offered baked beans, bought in industrial sized cans. Can't remember what else, but I bought it all at one of those commercial catering type groceries, the kind that sells in large quantities for parties, etc. Not sure if they still exist, and I'm sure they are not everywhere. You can also do shredded pork for ease of serving and make ahead. Be aware that you should probably offer another option for folks who are vegetarian or Jewish or Muslim. That's the beauty of offering vegetarian baked beans--something for the veggies that others will eat too. Only a few religious folks will worry about pork, so probably best to just have some all beef hotdogs you can heat up quick if someone objects to pork for religious reasons. Few folks I know make an issue out of it but it's easy enough to just be prepared in case it happens. Or if you know there are no Jews or Muslims don't sweat it. Back in my band days that was the case but times have changed and my hometown has a significant Muslim population now.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 12:24PM
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Really not cut out for this job - No one else would take it though - now I know why. There is no way to please everyone and stay on budget. :-(

This is not every night for 5 nights, these are once a week practices for 5 weeks.

I could just do "Practice Night Burgers and Dogs" and just change up the sides a bit.

How many cookies should I allow per person???

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 12:57PM
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Depends on the size of the cookies..;-)
For 2 1/2 inch cookies, figure 2 1/2 per person...if you buy something like Oreos...figure 3 per person.
I would not do burgers....too much much work as chicken legs and more because you have to form them...unless you do sloppy Joe sort of things...some call them "pizza burgers." Meat browned drained, add chopped onions, brown together a bit longer add garlic ( for this I use the jars of chopped), can of crushed tomatoes simmer....add oregano and basil to taste....salt and pepper to taste....simmer until thick.
Serve hot on a bun and top with grated cheese.

Do you have a budget provided by the school? Or are the band parents footing the bill?

I would tell the "Director" that you will only do hot dogs on the grill...and when you have a pasta casserole ( which is cheap and better for the kids than hot dogs!) you may provide sticks and marshmellos is he wants a cook out!

With planning and help so you don't have to buy bottled stuff, you can feed everyone for $1.00 a head....IF your cookies are donated.

I went to a very fancy wedding a little bit ago and one of the pass around hors d'ouvres was BBQ'ed lamb one worried about bones or messy fingers.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 2:07PM
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"I would not do burgers...too much work...because you have to form them" - Costco/Sams Club/Smart & Final or any restaurant supply place sells preformed frozen burgers reasonably priced. Good enough for the purposes of feeding a bunch of kids.

Your idea of burgers and dogs, changing the sides, is a good one. Even if the adults don't appreciate you, the kids sure will!

I'd still stay away from messy finger foods and wet, drippy chili in this situation - but you know what will work and won't. After dinner, will the kids have to then handle their musical instruments, and are bathrooms for hand washing easily available (and utilized...kwim!)?

Cookies: four per person. Leftovers get used/frozen for next time or left in the band room for snack.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 6:23PM
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Jeri, no band I was ever involved with got any food at practice, much less bbq!

Don't stress over the cookies. As someone mentioned above, they are bonuses. Throw a couple on each plate and let them be happy :)

As has been mentioned several times, be sure to have people to serve. (This should not be you--maybe that wicked band director!) Not only will kids mob the popular items and leave the late-comers hungry, but they will make a huge mess of everything and ruin food for everyone else.

I'd skip the beans, too, because lots of kids won't eat them and they will likely cause--disruptions--on the field in the second half of practice.

Definitely simplify. Do the chicken, baked at home and heated and sauced on the grill, a corn salad--make ahead, less messy and can serve as a vegetarian option, too, or a pasta salad. Throw in watermelon if it's cheap (be sure to provide trash bags for the rind and cut the stuff at home; you don't even want to know what band kids can do to whole watermelons if they get their hands on them) and the cookies. Make plenty of cheap garlic bread to fill them up. If you think the plates will look empty, add chips.

As for having enough, this is lunch and they are expected to continue practice afterward; it's fine to limit portions (another reason to have servers). They would not get unlimited portions in the school cafeteria, so there's no reason to think they should here, either. Should you go with the hindquarters suggested above, a leg and a thigh each is plenty.

I know this seems overwhelming, but with all the worrying you are doing now, reality should be much easier :)

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 6:45PM
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In my experience....which is not inconsiderable. It's better to have well as adults, serve themselves. Less waste....really! they don't take items they won't eat...and in the case of things which may be very "popular", put a sign on the table.."please take only 2"...or 5 or whatever works for the item. It works...really it does! Kids really don't make a big mess of everything, really they don't...particularly is a "hostess" or "host" is standing near the table and saying things like....there is BBQ sauce there if you want more, and the drinks are on the side table, please put your plates on the side table when you are through ( or in the trash can!)

I also would do the chicken at home....but "He" wants to use the grill...however bringing trays of cooked chicken legs and thighs is a lot easier than trying to keep cooked chicken at a safe temperature and then finish on the grills.

And don't can buy a bunch of supermarket loaves of French bread and a bunch of cold cuts and make subs.
I recommend buying a whole boneless ham and having the deli slice it....and also buying cheese by the pound and having the deli slice it or grate it your self. Shred your own lettuce, add some salami, and sliced turkey (buy a turkey roll and bake it cool and slice with electric knife) and make a dressing...figure 4 inches of a loaf per serving. Guessing 10 loaves will do it...

I object to the preformed hamburgers....they are soo greasy they cause flame ups and shrink a lot....and who knows what is in them..:-(.

Our church has a young people program on Wednesdays. Kids from about 10 through highschool who are the helpers, out church and 2 others team up. 8 weeks in the fall and 8 weeks in the spring. we used to have 75 to it's more like 50 to 60. Popular meals are mac and cheese, baby carrots, ranch and Apple quarters....and cookies of course. French toast or pancakes and little smokey sausages, walking tacos ( cooked ground beef with taco seasoning, shredded lettuce, salsa and shredded cheese in an individual packet of Fritoes) Pizza burgers with raw veggies and Ranch, and spaghetti casserole (fusilli with an Italian seasoned tomato sauce, ground beef and cheese...baked) Sometimes chili is served....but there is lots of that that isn't eaten...perhaps by the younger kids.
Good luck, darlin'!! You are earning a medal!!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 7:31PM
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One option that might be easier then the BBQ chicken legs, is a Crockpot Pulled Pork BBQ. (Assuming you have access to several large crockpots.) I made a batch for a post foxhunt tailgate a week ago and it was dead simple and a big hit.

Simply use whatever pork cut is on sale, my most recent batch used a $2.59 / lb pork loin, but I've used pork shoulder or pork butt in the past. Furthermore it doesn't have to be pork, the exact same recipe can be used for for chicken or beef as well.

Crockpot Pulled Pork BBQ

10 lbs Pork (cut into 2" cubes) (or beef or chicken or mixed)
2 large vidalia onion (slices into 1" thick slices)
10 whole cloves

32 oz bottle of vinegar-based BBQ sauce

Place onions, meat and cloves in large crockpot with enough water to cover. Cook on High for 2 hours, turn to low, and cook overnight.

Remove meat chunks with slotted spoon, reserve 2 cups of liquid, and discard rest of liquid and the onions and the cloves.

Pull apart and shred meat chunks with forks, and return it to the crockpot. Add the BBQ sauce and cook on low for another two hours minimum, adding some of the reserved liquid periodically if the meat starts to get too dry.

Serve directly from crockpot with hamburger buns and another jar of BBQ sauce (or two) for people to use as a condiment.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 2:21PM
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What's the weather like in your area? Maybe rather than "BBQ", theme it "picnic"? Grilling for 70 is a lot of work, quite a bit of cleanup, requires more than one grill and several people. I'd look for things that you can use an electric roaster or two. You can put a lot of brats, Polish and dogs into an electric roaster. Or make sandwiches, salads, etc. If it's warmer and they're getting warm practicing, cooler foods might be appreciated.

The other concern, are the kids eating in their uniforms? If so, sloppy stuff should be avoided.

You CAN'T please everyone! Put the burden on THEM to tell you if there's dietary restrictions or tell them if they don't or won't, then bring a bag lunch! You have enough (and volunteered) work to do without complications like that.

The director should be given his/her assignment. Not request, but assignment! S/he might have a change of mind next time on taking advantage of volunteers. I assume s/he is paid? :D I suspect a BBQ is what the director wants for the director, not what s/he wants for the kids.

Best of luck to you. You definitely have a medal coming! Actually one for doing it and one for not going postal and wiping out a few people! :D

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 10:36AM
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My son had his own end of school party, he & another male student cooked hamburgers & hot dogs for 25 kids & 5 adults.
Chips & dip, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes,pickles, soft drinks.
A bonfire & music from 6 until... most left by 10:00 pm.
But I think two drumsticks is a little light.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 8:25PM
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I ran weekend retreats for college students. Started the thing off with a "barbecue." I bought pre-formed hamburgers and they worked like a charm. It was no mystery what was in them since the ingredients are listed on the box. They didn't shrink all that much either, no more than any other type of hamburger. The kids loved them and they were good. They went over bigger than the hot dogs. But be prepared for some "vegetarians." Easy enough to buy a box of veggie burgers to fry too! I did chips and salsa, baked beans, store bought potato salad and coleslaw, soda, fruit and cookies. The students helped with set up, cooking and clean up. No reason your kids can't do the same.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 8:35PM
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