The key to a successful large-group breakfast lies in adequate preparation. Opt for foods that can be at least partially prepared beforehand to minimize time spent actually cooking in the morning; and count out plates, cutlery and serving utensils the night before. Don't try to go it alone; instead, enlist a few friends to help with cooking, preparation and logistics. When breakfast time arrives, your focus should be on greeting guests and serving the ready-to-eat meal.
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Oatmeal is inexpensive, cooks quickly and offers plenty of room for customization. You can even cook it in a Crock-Pot overnight to reduce prep time in the morning. When you're ready to eat, set out the cooked oatmeal with a soup ladle for easy serving along with individual bowls. Offer plenty of different options for toppings, such as:
- Chopped nuts
- Sliced fruit
- Shredded coconut
- Peanut butter
Stir in some milk before serving if the oatmeal seems a little too thick in the morning. You can also offer different types of oatmeal, such as apple cinnamon or maple pecan. Have a few helpers on hand to refill toppings and clear away dirty dishes.
Pancakes are easy to make in large quantities, but you will need a large griddle and a small team to help prepare and serve in a timely fashion. Mix the batter the night before and refrigerate it to save time. At breakfast time, depending on the size of your group, at least two people should be on hand to pour and monitor the pancakes on the griddle and another two to flip and serve them. Twenty pounds of instant-pancake mix is enough for 100 guests to each have three 5-inch pancakes. You'll also need softened (easily spreadable) butter or margarine and plenty of maple syrup -- 1 to 2 gallons for every 100 guests. Pancakes often result in messy, sticky dishes, so go with disposable plates and cutlery to minimize dish-washing duties.
Eggs can be cooked and frozen in large quantities several days in advance of your breakfast. For 100 guests, you'll need 16 to 18 dozen eggs. Scramble the eggs in advance, leaving the whites very slightly runny to avoid over-drying, then store them in large freezer bags. Make sure you remove all the air before sealing the bags. At breakfast time, thaw the eggs in a large skillet on medium heat. Present the eggs in warmed pans to help keep them hot as your guests serve themselves. Enlist the help of two or three people to prepare toppings, such as:
- Shredded cheese
- Diced onions
- Diced tomatoes
- Chopped ham
Place the toppings in bowls alongside the pans of eggs so that guests can help themselves.
Fruit and Bread
Offering a continental-style breakfast allows you to prepare several different types of breakfast breads over a few days, since muffins and other quick breads, such as banana bread and scones, can be frozen for up to 2 months. Organize a small group of bakers to prepare and freeze one large batch of muffins or other quick bread. To feed large muffins or scones to 100 guests, count on 1 piece per guest, plus 10 to 20 percent. Thaw the breads at room temperature, or heat them in the microwave on medium heat -- 50 percent -- until warm throughout. Chop and refrigerate fresh fruit the night before. Estimate between 1/2 cup and 1 cup of fruit per person. Don't forget the extras; for 100 guests, count on 2 pounds each of:
- Powdered sugar