Cooking for 400 hungry homeless people - Need help on portions

Joined Oct 10, 2015

I have been tasked with purchasing food for a penne pasta with spaghetti sauce dinner. I think I probably finally have the recipe down but still need your advice. There are going to be about 12 cooks. I need to know how much pasta, sauce to distribute to them to cook in a full size aluminum pan. Any suggestions? Thank you very much!
Joined Dec 23, 2004
I commend you on doing something to help others!  Is it going to be the only entree or will there be other stuff?  An ounce of dry pasta will be around 3-4 oz cooked.  Normally I'd plan on about 8 to 9 oz of cooked pasta + the sauce for a hearty entree.  But I suppose that maybe these folks might eat a bit more than the average diner.  Pasta is fairly inexpensive, I'd err on the side of having extra.  On the low side I'd say go with at least 75 pounds of penne, uncooked weight.  A hundred wouldn't be overkill; in banquets generally you include a 3% to 5% overage just in case.  If you're using 200 pans you won't get more than a few pounds in a pan.  I'd use a 400 or 600 pan (ie a full pan, 4" or 6" deep respectively).

Cook the pasta al dente (almost undercooked) to keep it from getting too mushy.

Cooking is, to me, just about the most fundamental way of relating to and serving our fellow humans.  It's a noble endeavor.  If you have any other questions post them here!
Joined May 29, 2006
With 12 cooks I could feed 1000  people  anyway here is my figures,( to many cooks spoil the broth) That's 33 people per cook

Pasta  5 ounces pp//     meat  5ounces per person//  , vege  2 1/2 ounces pp,//   starch 3 ounces pp./   / desert  3 1/2 ounces pp.//

beverage  8 ounces pp// .  roll and 1 pat butter

have extra sauce available, plus some grated cheese EJB
Joined Jul 28, 2001

You're right about too many cooks. It's been my experience, having done many of this type of thing, the cooks won't really be cooks as we know.

They will most likely be volunteers. An even tougher task.
Joined Dec 18, 2010
A dozen cooks in what kind of environment? My former church would do similar but every cook would prepare the pasta at home in smaller quantities and bring it in hotel pans for service. Consistency was a real problem, both because each "mom-chef" seemed to have different idea of al dente and the transportation from home to church varied too. Sauce was a lot easier to get consistency (or at least to combine for a single taste). Once the church acquired better facilities and a commercial-like kitchen things got easier and better... and the number of cooks needed was a lot fewer.

As others have said... good for you to be feeding the needy and hungry... there are a lot of them who really need some help!
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