Hosting a large group of teens and providing food for them may make your head spin, but with forethought, organization and planning, the meal does not have to be as daunting as it might seem. Teens may not be as particular about what they eat at a party or event as adults are, which makes choosing the food to serve simpler.
Choosing Appropriate Food
Choose the kind of food based on the type of event. If the party is somewhat formal, choose dishes that are easy to eat and that teenagers are not likely to spill on their clothing. Sliced ham and turkey paired with scalloped or baked potatoes, and vegetables like corn off the cob or peas are least likely to stain clothing. If the event is casual, messier food like sloppy joes with french fries and cole slaw would be quick and easy to both prepare and serve.
In winter comfort food like meatballs or meatloaf and mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese with smoked beef, chicken or pork sausages can take the edge off a cold day or night outdoors. Heavier deserts like hot apple crisp served with whipped cream would carry the warm food theme through the meal. In the summer, a taco or sandwich bar can be a quick and easy to feed a large group of teens. Much of the meal can be prepared ahead of time and these options let the teens choose whatever they want. Barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers are also hits with most teens, especially for summer holiday parties, served with baked beans, potato salad and chips, with seasonally decorated cakes or cupcakes and ice cream for dessert.
Decide how much of the food you can make yourself and how much you want to buy already prepared. You can save money if you prepare most of the food yourself, but when time is an issue, sometimes it makes more sense to rely on deli or frozen food. Deli salads, frozen lasagna or delivered pizzas are good options for convenience food. Ordering a variety of toppings for the pizzas is a certain way to assure guests that there is something for everyone. If you want to prepare the food yourself, choose simple casseroles like tuna casserole or shepherd's pie to make ahead of time and reheat just before serving.
If you know some of the parents of the teens who are attending the event or party, ask them if they can help you cook and serve the food for the party. You can assign them different types of dishes to make ahead, based on what they like to cook. Some people enjoy chopping vegetables for salad, while others like to bake cakes and cookies. Some of the teens might even enjoy helping prepare the food and feel a sense of accomplishment for being a good cook.