Feeding a Crowd: Taco Night

A few weeks ago we beat UNLV 33-30 in overtime at an away game in Vegas with a ton of our amazing family there rooting on the Vandals!  This game was nerve wracking to say the least, but once the team sealed the deal for the big win everyone erupted in celebration! The excitement was tangible, we were all jumping up and down, there were tears of joy, lots of hugging, high fives and yelling in excitement. To celebrate that big win with the Linebackers, Eric and I wanted to have a Taco dinner the next week one night after practice.

I thought I’d share this post mostly for myself to have a reference for any meals in the future where I’ll be feeding Eric’s players. It seems that every time I’m brainstorming what to make for these player meals I either can’t think of anything, everything seems too complicated when multiplied by large amounts or I can’t remember how much food I made previously and I don’t know how much to buy and get all stressed out that there won’t be enough to go around. Also if any of you out there reading this need ideas or quantities for making a meal for about 20 large people I hope this is helpful for you as well. 🙂

When planning for these player meals my biggest fear is that there won’t be enough food, but also it isn’t fun to have tons leftover that can’t all be frozen and saved. After writing down what we fed them, I have tweaked the list below to amounts that will provide the estimated perfect amount. For instance I made waaaaay too much rice casserole this time, they barely touched the limes and I didn’t need 80 tortillas and am now currently sitting on a pile of them trying to think of every possible meal where we can use them up.

Taco Night Menu -Serves about 20 people
-10 pound pork shoulder for  Pioneer Woman’s Spicy Shredded Pork (about 2 times the recipe)
-10-12 pounds ground beef using Taco Seasoning packets (1 packet per pound of beef)
Pioneer Woman’s Mexican Rice Casserole (The original recipe says it serves 12, but it definitely would feed 20)
-40-50 soft taco tortillas
-1 head iceberg lettuce
-10 roma tomatoes
-5 limes
-8 cups shredded cheese
-16 ounce container sour cream
-1 bottle Tapatio or hot sauce
-2 bags party size tortilla chips
Rotel Queso recipe (5 times the recipe)
-32 ounces salsa
-Gatorade variety pack (36 mini bottles)

4 days before
-Made my shopping list and got everything at the grocery store

2 days before
-Taco Meat: I cooked the ground beef and stored in the refrigerator in gallon size plastic bags.

1 day before
-Pulled Pork: Made the marinade per the recipe instructions and put it in the fridge until the morning when I was ready to use it (I’ve also marinated the meat the night before in the baking pan to save time in the morning, but I was out of fridge space at this point)
-Mexican Rice Casserole: I made the rice casserole by cooking the rice per the recipe and putting it into a large tin roasting pan without the cheese topping. Instead of baking it that night I tightly covered it in foil and refrigerated it.
-Lettuce, Tomatoes, Limes: I sliced and diced and put them into travel containers and ziploc bags
-Go Bag: Put together a go bag that had basically anything that would be needed to transport, serve, eat, make to-go plates, and clean up with. This bag also included room temp. food items
-Refrigerated Go Bag: This bag included refrigerated items I needed to bring such as lettuce, tomatoes, limes, cheese, sour cream, and salsa so I wouldn’t be hunting for items in the fridge when I needed to leave and ultimately forget something

The day of
-Pulled Pork: Woke up early to get the pork in the oven, let it roast per recipe instructions and pulled it right before heading over
-Taco Meat: a few hours in advance, I put the pre-cooked meat in a crock pot on high and stirred occasionally until the meat was hot, turning to low until it was time to serve
-Mexican Rice Casserole: I pulled it out of the fridge several hours early to remove the chill then reheated it in the oven at 300º F (while the pork roasted) tightly covered with foil. I added additional chicken broth so it wouldn’t dry out when I occasionally stirred it around. It took about 4 hours to fully reheat. I left off the cheese topping all together this time because I was transporting it and didn’t want the cheese to get stuck to the foil and end up pulling it all off
-Queso: Cooked in a crock pot the day of on low heat a few hours before, stirring occassionally until it was all melted and combined, then turned to warm until it was time to serve
-Drinks: Put on ice a few hours in advance in a rolling ice chest (nothing worse than lugging a heavy ice chest)

Then loaded everything in the back of my car and headed over.

-Keep the menu simple and think of things you can make in advance
-Do as much as you can to prep in the days leading up to the meal like making a list of what needs to be made when, pulling out all of the dishes you’ll need for cooking, setting aside serving utensils to not get dirty during the cooking process, etc.
-If you can use a throw away baking dishes, utensils, plates or containers do it, you’ll thank yourself later
-Bring extra paper plates and foil for people to take food to go (it’s always better to have extra)
-Bring extra plastic bags to take home any dirty empty containers or serving utensils
-Don’t forget large trash bags if you can’t use the trash at the facilities for food
-Bring cleaning wipes, there’s always a drip of something here and there

Tip for transporting food, line your trunk with old towels or cardboard. You never know when something could spring a leak, and I didn’t want any meat juice or molten hot queso to be stinking up my car for weeks. Also one of my crock pots has a lid that clamps on, making it easy to take places without spilling. With the help of a few people we were able to get everything set up buffet style for dinner within 15 minutes and let the guys go at it. I was happily surprised to see the combination of meals they came up with that night. My favorite was a bowl of queso with taco meat piled on top to eat with chips. Also tacos topped with queso is never a bad thing. I got to be a fly on the wall while they had dinner and watched film. These guys put in so much hard work and to be able to celebrate a big win makes it even more special to be able to thank them with a home cooked meal.

After at least a dozen of these meals under my belt this one by far went the smoothest and I will definitely be making this again in the future. Thanks for stopping by CB EATS! Follow CB EATS by subscribing to email updates or follow along on Instagram or Pinterest.

xo CB


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