Providing food every week at your Alpha is a lot of work, but a simple yet delicious meal plan can help streamline the planning process, food prep time, and reduce budget costs. The seven sample meals below give you an idea of what types of food can work well for any size of group, and these are super easy recipes you can find online. These menu ideas are from a group that served approximately 30-50 people at their Alpha each week.
1. Spaghetti & Meatballs
Sides: Garlic Bread and Caesar Salad
The beauty of this classic meal is that it doesn’t have to be done from scratch. You can buy pasta in bulk and add store-bought meatballs and sauce. Garlic bread and salad dressings can also be bought pre-made so the prep time required for this meal is minimal.
2. Shepherd’s Pie
Sides: Greek Salad
Shepherd’s Pie is another great meal option because it’s easy to buy frozen or make it from scratch with ingredients that can be found during any season. It’s also a simple meal to adapt for people with food allergies.
3. Chicken and Rice Divan
Sides: Green Salad
Any meal with rice is great for a small or large group and is an easy filler to reduce the cost of food while satisfying everyone’s appetite. The chicken, rice, broccoli, and cheese are baked in a creamy sauce–perfect comfort food on a cold winter’s night.
Sides: Corn Bread and Salad
Chili is always a popular meal at Alpha because it can be made a dozen different ways. It is easy to adapt for vegetarians and people with food allergies, and it goes far to feed a crowd. Cornbread is also cheap and quick to make with a boxed mix or from scratch.
5. Beef Stroganoff
Sides: Rolls and Salad
Stroganoff is another crowd-pleaser that packs a punch of flavour and can be made in advance and heated up the day of. Any large pot mains like stroganoff make for an ideal Alpha meal.
6. Enchilada Casserole
Sides: Corn on the cob or corn salad
Enchilada casserole is an easy to build main dish that can be adapted for a vegetarian or meat option. Instead of rolled up, the ingredients are layered in a deep dish so the chicken, beans, tortillas and cheese melt together in delicious harmony.
7. Pulled Pork on Rolls
This is another meat dish that can be prepared in advance and heated up right before Alpha or simmered all day in a slow cooker (crockpot). It’s easy to buy pork in large quantities and prep quickly. This may not be the best option if your guests are from cultures that don’t eat pork so consider having alternatives on hand.
Other meals that work great for Alpha are curries, soups, and lasagnas. Any recipe that can be thrown into one pot or pan is ideal because it’s going to be easy for a team of volunteers to prep and cook. Finally, a great idea for desserts is to ask the hosts and helpers to bring something to share with their group each week. This can make the meal feel more personal and welcoming.