First of all let's get one thing straight, you are not "catering" the recpetion, if you are having a potluck. I have to agree with the other respondents--don't do the potluck! Unless you belong to a small, close-knit community church like mine, please don't have the potluck reception and ESPECIALLY do NOT tell them what to each bring! I hope you aren't one of those brides who focuses only on the wedding day and forgets that there is a groom and a marriage to follow. I've been running my church kitchen for a dozen years or more. I also cook weekly for another church. I can throw together a hot supper for 150 people for $300 or less. One suggestion was made to have a BBQ! Four times each summer our church does a hot dog picnic in our parking lot for the neighborhood. For under $500 I can buy a meal of hotdogs, buns, condiments, chips, baby carrots, paper products and cookies or popsicles (all finger foods) for 500 people. I do all of the shopping for all our food events, so I know what it takes and what it costs. I start grilling the hot dogs a few hours or so in advance. Then I transfer them to three 18 quart roasters, kept on low heat to keep them warm. If our church can do this, think of what you can do with a little work, imagination and price-comparison shopping. For a simple funeral, we make ham and turkey on buns, pre-shredded cole slaw with a jug of boughten dressing, pickles, baked beans, chips, cookies and bars, coffee, punch and paper products. If needed, I'll throw together a very large garden salad, pasta salad, simple fruit salad or buy a couple of vegie trays if time is short, which is often the case for a funeral. Last week, I spent $443.00 for this funeral meal above. It fed 275 people, plus there was quite a bit of food I was able to pack up and send home for the visiting, large family of the deceased man. Skip the Chicken Marsala and the meatloaf! There's so many other nice, but practical things you could do! Meatloaf could dry out easily also, while trying to keep them all warm. How about a roaster or two full of meatballs? Food is a huge part of my life. I can make a nice meal from scratch to save some money or I can cut corners like crazy to save some time. You can do both! Your guests will appreciate anything you can do for them and it doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive. It just has to taste good and be "kept safe" from bacteria! Don't worry about what anyone else thinks! Twenty-two years ago, my sister and I were married during the same summer. She spent $5000.00 to give her 150 guests a hot meal at a hotel. On the other hand, she teased me about spending $200 at the time, for a cold lunch and wedding cake for 400 guests. I am sure no one remembers either of these menu's now.
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