Delicious Dinner Buffet
How much is enough? Don't go overboard (remember all the appetizers your guests have just eaten!). Offer a few main-course options with some side dishes, and make sure you serve something kids will actually eat too. Plan on three ounces of meat per person, and about the same for sides. Count every three kids as one adult when you're figuring out how much you'll need.
- Chicken wings and fingers are crowd pleasers. We found the fingers and the spicy precooked wings in the frozen-foods department. Just heat and serve.
- A spiral sliced ham is the easiest meat to serve a crowd. (It takes about an hour, and don't forget to add that packet of glaze that comes with it.) You buy it precooked, so all you have to do is heat it up. Put out assorted mustards and a basket of small dinner rolls so guests can make mini sandwiches.
- Bags of steam-and-serve microwave vegetables are a snap to prepare and keep the stove and oven free.
- Ravioli is a good party pasta because it's easy to eat, even if you're balancing your plate on your knees: Go for a bowl of butternut squash ravioli with a sage sauce for grown-ups, and buy plain cheese with marinara for the kids. Both of these came frozen, and the sauce was included.
- Most stores today stock big bags of prewashed salad greens. We opted for a Caesar salad kit, which came with the croutons, cheese, and dressing too.
- Stock up on frozen roasted potato wedges, which you can buy plain or in some great flavors (rosemary, garlic, and sea salt). Serve them over a bed of bright green chives.