Hospitality for a Crowd - Part IV--Breakfasts

As I launch into talking about making meals for a crowd of houseguests, let me just be clear that I am not going to tell you that you can feed 28 people for five+ days on $47.63. That’s just not happening. However, planning ahead and making and freezing does help to spread the cost out over months. For us, it was all part and parcel of the wedding expenses. This was what my kitchen looked like after my first trip to Costco.

In my experience, people will eat anything you set in front of them without complaint for lunch or dinner. But breakfast is a whole different matter. I rarely host a guest without some idosyncracies in regards to breakfast. Some must have their coffee first thing no matter what. Personally, I never drink coffee, but I need my morning glass of orange juice. My father-in-law wants his plain Cheerios every morning. Other guests we’ve had have hypoglycemia and must have protein with their breakfast. Some people don’t ever eat breakfast, while others always just want something light.

To further complicate matters, when you have 18 people all trying to use 2 1/2 bathrooms in the morning and leave the house by around 8:30 a.m., it’s nearly impossible to assemble everyone at once for a sit down meal. I never served breakfast as a sit down meal to the crowd, and not usually when we’re a smaller group either. I put it out at a general time, and people eat as they are able. This relieves everyone’s morning stress, including the cook’s. I think it helps people who aren’t “morning people” to have a more pleasant start to their day.

I set food out buffet-style on the kitchen island. Also on the island are: plates, bowls, napkins, small paper juice cups, plastic cutlery, orange juice, and milk.

To serve breakfast to a lot of houseguests, this is what I would serve over the span of a few days:

We keep these in glass canisters and guests help themselves. Don’t ask me why, but people love the fact that they can help themselves to cereal in the canisters.

–homemade granola
This is easy to do far in advance of your guests arriving. My favorite, which has the added advantage of having a little taste of New England is:

Maple-Pecan Granola
2 c. regular oats
1/2 c. pecan pieces
1/2 c. real maple syrup
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 T. canola oil
cooking spray
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Combine: oats, pecans, syrup, brown sugar, and oil.
Bake at 300 degrees for 45 mins. on cooking sheet coated with cooking spray, stirring every 15 mins.
Yields 4 cups.


Quiches are my favorite do-ahead breakfast food, because they can be done far in advance, frozen, thawed in the refrigerator overnight, and finished off in the oven in the morning. The recipe can be found at Thy Hand Hath Provided. I follow her recipe exactly. If you’re going to freeze them for guests, then under-bake by 5 mins.; cool completely. Wrap tightly in two layers of aluminum foil and freeze. The day before you’re going to serve them, thaw in the refrigerator. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.

Some winning flavor combinations for quiches include:
-bacon, onion, bell pepper, mushroom, and cheddar
-asparagus, onion, bell pepper, ham and Swiss

–sweet breads
These freeze beautifully and can be made months in advance. Our favorites are: banana-oat, lemon-blueberry, zucchini, and almond-poppyseed. The Banana-Oatmeal Bread recipe can be found here. It’s THE BEST! I sprinkle the top with oatmeal before cooking. When I’m just making the recipe for our family, I make it into muffins and decrease the cooking time to just 25 minutes.


A note about serving sweet breads: if you slice the whole loaf of bread and then cut the whole loaf down the middle, it will serve more people than if you just slice it. People will be more inclined to take a half of a slice, rather than a whole one. I found that one loaf would easily serve 18 people.

–bacon (some mornings)

–scrambled eggs
Sometimes I made them in small batches as people came downstairs for breakfast. Sometimes a guest made them.

Fill a big bowl with ice and put an assortment of yogurts on the ice to keep cool.

–bagels and assorted cream cheeses (Let people toast them themselves.)

–English muffins, butter, and assorted jams

–fruit smoothies
These take a little time, but I make them a blender-full at a time, fill glasses, put the glasses in the refrigerator, and offer them as people are ready to eat. Don’t know how to make a smoothie? Easy: 1 cup vanilla yogurt, 3/4 c. – 1 c. juice, 5-6 frozen strawberries, a little of some other frozen fruit (like blueberries or peaches), one sliced banana. Puree. Serve with a straw and a smile!

–fresh fruit

Our group at the top of Cannon Mountain, New Hampshire, where (on a clear day) there is a view of four states and Canada.  Not a clear day, but a lovely view anyway.
Now I certainly didn’t provide all that food every morning. Here’s an example of what four days of breakfasts might’ve looked like:

Day #1 – yogurts, fresh strawberries, bagels and cream cheese, juice
Day #2 – scrambled eggs, sweet bread, fruit smoothies, juice
Day #3 – cereals and granola, English muffins, juice
Day #4 – quiches, yogurt, juice

And don’t forget the coffee!

Come visit tomorrow for lunch tips!


  1. I have read the whole series so far and WOW is all I can say! I am certainly impressed and taking notes!

  2. kate...SO enjoying this series. I have yet to host 28 people, but our percentages are about the same.

    Will you be discussing transportation/parking/preparing for damage to parking surfaces? That is a detail I have learned to factor, but took me by surprise at first. Looking forward to your thoughts! Thank you for this service.

    Deb Meyers

  3. Christy - I'm glad you've been enjoying the series! Thank you for your kind words!

    Deb - Great questions! I've added the answers to the posting on Part V, because they might be questions others are wondering about too. Glad you're enjoying it!


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