Feeding the Troops

My son plays on a soccer team with players from all over the state. The last couple of weekends they have had mini camps with three a day practices. We volunteered to host one of the boys who lived a couple of hours away. This weekend isn’t quite as busy for them, but we are still going to host two boys this weekend.

My dilemma is Saturday dinner. My wife will be gone so it will be just me, my two sons, and two other players. They are all between 15 and 18 and all serious athletes. They will be getting home around 5:30 or so and I need to feed them.

The problem is, my wife is gone and I’ll be with my younger son and not getting home until about the same time. I’ll have the morning and up until about 2:30, and I expect they will all want to shower before eating.

So, what can I make to feed 5 of us that I can mostly make ahead of time that they will all like, be reasonably healthy and not cost a fortune (we made lasagna last weekend)? I’m a pretty good cook so don’t just assume it has to be bachelor food.

Italian Beef Sandwiches. Buy a big five pound or so tub, let it thaw while you’re out, heat up when you get home. Put on rolls. $30 bucks maybe. Even if you include some sauteed green peppers and onions. And about half an hour of prep time when you get home.

Tacos. Cut the toppings up before you leave, and reheat the beef when you get home.

Spaghetti and meatballs. Just make the spaghetti when you get home - reheat the already made sauce and meatballs.

Chili. Leave it in a crockpot while you’re out.

That’s all I got.

If I read that right, you will be home until 2:30 p.m.?

Put a pork loin or turkey or a couple chickens in the oven before you leave.

I wouldn’t over-think it.

First thing that came to my mind was burgers. If they’re like most teens (and I expect they are), they’re more about quantity over quality when it comes to food. They’ll be able to knock down two or three of them each and it won’t break the bank. As well, the prep work won’t kill a big chunk of your Saturday.

Serve with potato salad, corn on the cob, or similar summertime side dishes.

You could also pick up a couple family size boxes of Velveeta Shells and Cheese and make those along with some smoked sausages/hot dogs.

I’d grill burgers. Maybe add a couple of cans of pork-n-beans, some chips, etc.



Hit Costco or Smart & Final or the like for a big bag of frozen hamburger patties, a bag of buns, condiments, a tub of potato salad and a case of soda. Make the kids cook their own burgers. Serve on paper plates for easy clean-up.

I second the chili in the crock pot recommendation.

Thanks for the suggestions… keep 'em coming.

Pizza is tonight since they don’t get home until 8:30.

We did burgers last weekend as well. Still a possibility, but not with frozen patties… I’m a beef snob and will only get fresh ground from my butcher.

Chili sounds good, but I’m not sure if that is what they will want when coming home hot and tired. Also, my chili is great, but pretty spicy. I’m not sure how the other kids would be about that. We’re in the Midwest so some people think a little black pepper is too hot.

I’m leaning toward either spaghetti or tacos. We made a taco bar for my daughters graduation open house that went over very well, and you can never go wrong with spaghetti.

The suggestion of turkey got me thinking… I’ve got a smoker and could smoke a turkey breast. My concern is that I won’t be here to monitor the temp and I don’t want to over cook it. Not ruling it out all together yet though.

Ooh - just thought of something else. It isn’t REAL cost effective (unless you have a sale going on in your local stores on chicken breasts) but you could get chicken breasts, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, cut up the chicken breasts and all the vegetables, make shish kabobs, marinate them in teriyaki sauce while you’re out then fire up the grill when you get home and cook them that way.

Husband just reminded me of that. It’s his “go to” when it comes to feeding his family when they come over.

If you don’t like that idea, I can tell him to shut up. :slight_smile:

Actually I like it a lot, and coincidentally my wife had just suggested the same thing. Except she said I could pick up pre-made ones. I glared at her like she called my Mom a whore. I can make them tons better for far less. I’m thinking I may make a combo of some chicken and some steak. Not cheap but should go over well and still be considered healthy.

Meatball subs – in the morning, fill your crockpot with meatballs and cover with marinara sauce. Let it cook on low until time to eat. Prep some carrot and celery sticks in the morning. When it’s time to eat, top crusty bread rolls with meatballs, sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Slice a watermelon. Potato chips would be good, too.

Ooooh - where you live and what time should we be there? I’ll help clean up! (And if you can find boneless ribeyes on sale for the steak ones they work REALLY well - really REALLY well!) And I totally understand the “look” you gave your wife - my husband actually suggested to me once that I purchase pre-made beef fajita mix. Seriously? He’s lucky he isn’t single again. :smiley:

Thirded. Offer tortilla chips and shredded cheese and diced onions. Maybe strawberry Jello for dessert, bananas optional. Or just offer inseason fruit for dessert.

I have mucho experience feeding herds of teen boys, and my most popular offering thus far has been Mexican lasagna. (Or “Mexican” “lasagna”. Not exactly authentic fare!)

Prep meat as for taco filling. Layer meat, flour or corn tortillas, refried beans, and cheese into a casserole dish.Cover with foil and refrigerate until you get home. Heat through in the oven while chopping up lettuce and tomatoes and onions, serve with salsa and sour cream and whatever you like on tacos. (This lets my crazy son drench his in habanero sauce, while his picky friend avoids the heat. It’s also much neater to serve than tacos.)

IME, one giant casserole serves 3 15-year-olds and the normal 9x12 pan feeds the other five at the table. Tortilla chips and salsa prevent too much arm chewing while the hungry masses wait for dinner. And a giant vat of ice cream will probably disappear overnight.

Either burgers or spaghetti and meatballs/meat sauce would have been very welcome back when I was a teenage athlete. So would chili, although that’s more effort.

Central Indiana… 6:30ish. Oh, and instead of a side dish please bring some teen aged girls and you will be warmly welcomed by the boys. Otherwise you may lose a few fingers if you try to take their food.

They came home tonight to two boxes of hot pizza. We have half of a box left… no, not the pizza in the box, I’m pretty sure we only have one half of one of the cardboard boxes left… and I think I may need a new counter top. :smiley:

Probably too late now, but my cousins have this same scenario quite often with the sports teams and they go to Sam’s (or you could go to Costco, etc.) and get the cold cut packages with assorted sandwich meats and cheeses, slice up some tomatoes and lettuce, plus mustard and ketchup and mayo, have some rolls out and let the kids make their own sandwiches.

Some pile them high, others make three small ones, but they all get to pick and choose. Bag of chips and some water/soft drinks on the side.

Sort of a mobile Subway sandwich shop.

Yeah - the counter is a mess when finished - but the good news is that almost no food goes to waste and leftovers can be slapped back into the fridge and re-used the next few days.

Mushrooms, Chicken Breasts, and Sirloin are all now marinating in a teriyaki marinade. I opted for Sirloin even though Rib Eye was on sale because Sirloin was still $2 less per pound.

Onions and green peppers will be cut soon. I’m doing the tomatoes separately since they often turn to mush by the time other things are cooked. White Rice, and Long Grain and Wild Rice on the side. Watermelon for desert.

I’m still debating if I should make southern style green beans to go with it. My wife is gone and she won’t eat them but I love them (she has some strange northern aversion to things cooked in bacon fat). I chop some bacon, fry it in a pot, add chopped onions, then the beans and chicken broth. Add some red pepper flakes cook way too long, and I’m in heaven.

Oh, and DMark’s suggestion is pretty much the standard when we have to serve them lunch.