For us, Rosh Hashanah was coming quickly and the thought of not being home was hitting hard. There is nothing like homemade food on the holiday, and we all know that the best part of any occasion is always the food. So naturally we wanted to put together a dinner for our friends in the same situation in our dorm apartment.
Our guest list soon grew to about 30 people. A lot of logistics planning, watching recipe videos and scrolling through Pinterest were involved in the lead up to the holiday. But spoiler alert, the meal was a success. It was not too hard to put together, plus it was super fun and rewarding Ten outta ten and would do again, this guide explains how we pulled it off.
Get Your Team Together
Make sure you're not doing it alone. Not only would that be lonely but it also would be a ton of work. Gather your squad (roommates and friends) and get your chef's hats on.
What we did: The three of us as roommates did most of the planning, but we opened up our apartment day-of to the guests that wanted to help prepare food. We were open to anyone bringing what they wanted but the open kitchen gave us a lot of help.
Plan Ahead and Create a Menu
Try to think of dishes that require few ingredients and even fewer steps since you'll be making so many. Vary the recipes that will need to use the stove and oven, some will likely need to be prepared early on and others right before guests arrive.
It's also helpful to compile a menu that has a few different styles and prominent flavors to make sure everyone coming has something they absolutely love (if they don't absolutely love everything, that is). If you're struggling with where to start, create a base menu with ingredients that you can buy in bulk and/or are in season.
What we did: Although it wasn't a typical Rosh Hashanah menu of chicken soup, brisket and kugel, we all chose recipes that we were comfortable making. Our menu included a spinach salad with pomegranate seeds, beets and sweet potatoes, teriyaki tofu for vegetarians, lots of roasted harvest veggies, string beans with toasted almonds and a honey Sriracha chicken dish.
We also made Apple Rose Tarts for dessert, which were a huge crowd pleaser and look way more impressive than the skill they took to make.
Make Your Shopping List
Create your list in a way that you'll be able to shop for all the ingredients you definitely need first. As you shop, assess how much you've already added to gauge of how much is left to your budget. Have one person grab things off the shelves as the other checks off items on the list and keep track of prices. Once you have everything you need, the fun part is being able to go back and lap the store one more time for the fun extras.
Even for dishes you know how to make in your sleep, try to find a recipe that can be easily scaled to a larger quantity. It's also to your benefit to buy paper plates and aluminum tins to hold all the food. You need ample serving vessels and you'll be glad you used paper when you don't have so many dishes to do after the meal.
Buying a citrus fruit or two and making pitchers of infused water ahead of time is a great way to provide drinks without breaking the bank.
Make Time to Cook
The day of the meal, give yourself pretty much the whole afternoon to clean, organize furniture and cook. Cleaning is straight-forward, but depending on the layout of your apartment the organization of furniture might be a bit of a puzzle. The most important thing to know is that people will sit on the floor if they need to.
As you plan your afternoon of cooking, start first with recipes that can be made and then refrigerated, and then recipes that can be made but reheated. From there, alternate recipes that can be made on the stove and in the oven throughout the afternoon. Keep a checklist of everything handy and don't forget recipes or additions when things start to get hectic at the last minute.
About 45 minutes before everyone comes, put the tins back in the oven on low heat to warm them up so that everything will be hot.
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and Have Fun
There will always be things that you're most nervous about, but no matter what it'll work out fine. I was nervous there wasn't going to be enough food, and 4 days later we still had leftovers. With that, the lesson learned is that it is important to cook to make sure there is enough and then some, but there doesn't need to me enough to feed everyone for a week.
Once guests start knocking on the door, take the tins out of the oven and enjoy. Relax because everyone will be fed, there will be enough food, and everything will taste amazing. And even if it doesn't taste amazing, your friends will be so impressed you mede this meal that it doesn't even matter.