With pasta salad and coleslaw as sides, hosting a bash for 60 people is as easy as chilling some drinks and tossing burgers on a grill ... sort of. While day-of setup may be a breeze, it definitely takes a good deal of time and planning to make side dishes for this large of a crowd. Worry about how much salt and pepper to add later. The first order of business is calculating how much to make so that no one walks away hungry.
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Tips for Cooking for 60 People
If you're confident that 60 people are definitely showing up to this gathering, play it safe by making food calculations based on somewhere between 65 and 75 people. Not only may extra people show up but it's wise to plan for the unforeseeable.
Someone might knock over a bowl of coleslaw, or a batch of potato salad might have to be tossed when bugs land in it. Some folks may ask to take home leftovers. Plus, your idea of an appropriate coleslaw serving size may not match up with everyone else's idea of the right coleslaw serving size, so some people will take bigger servings than you anticipate.
Although pre-mixing your pasta salad and coleslaw would certainly be convenient before a big gathering, prepping too far in advance can backfire when your salads turn limp or greasy. Prep all the individual components separately the day before. Cook the pasta, shred the cabbage, make your dressings, chop the veggies and so on. Keep individual components cold and combine them just before the party starts.
Calculating Pasta Salad for 60 People
When you're serving pasta salad as a side dish to an entree, it's safe to guess that most people won't eat more than 3/4 cup of finished salad. Assuming your pasta salad recipe includes plenty of veggies, cheese and maybe meat, one serving of pasta salad will probably include about 1/2 cup of pasta.
A standard 1-pound box of pasta will generally yield about 8 cups of cooked pasta, so you can expect to feed about 16 people from one box. So, 4 or 5 pounds of dry pasta should be plenty, assuming you're bulking up the salad with plenty of extras. If you're planning a really vegetable-intensive salad, you may want to use less pasta.
If each serving of pasta salad includes about 1/2 cup of pasta, it should also include about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of veggies, meat and cheese. In total, for 60 guests, you'll probably want to prep about 17 to 23 cups of these extras. How you split that up is up to you. Finally, prep 4 to 6 cups of dressing to add to the salad to taste.
Calculating Coleslaw for 60 People
The average coleslaw serving size is about 3 ounces, or around 1/3 cup. If you're buying pre-shredded cabbage, about 140 ounces of cabbage is appropriate. If you're starting with whole heads of cabbage, estimate that 1 pound of cabbage will feed about five people. To make enough coleslaw for 60, buy 12 to 14 pounds of cabbage.
You'll probably need about 1 cup of dressing for every 12 servings of coleslaw. So, if you're making 70 servings, estimate that you'll need 6 cups of dressing depending on how wet or dry you prefer to make it.