It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, there are always moments – holidays, seasonal parties, birthdays – that require cooking for a crowd. There’s always something in our vending machines for any party. And, during retail hours, we love nothing more than to help you think through what to make to feed a crowd, whether you’re stopping by for July 4th, for a retirement party, or for New Year’s.

Some people find it easiest to feed a crowd during the summer; you can fire up the grill and clean up is so much easier since people can eat outside and maybe even off paper plates. But there’s really no one time of year that’s better than another for throwing open your doors and feeding tons of people. Mainly it’s about choosing the right cut of meat.

In our experience, there are several kinds of people willing to feed crowds and everyone tackles the experience differently. We have customers who call us for their yearly pig roasts which we know they execute with military organizational precision. And we have grandparents who head up large families who comfortably custom order for 40 without blinking an eye; they’re so used to feeding crowds.

Not everyone is used to crowds. When a customer comes in with that oh-no-I-have-to-feed-a-crowd look in their eye, we’re here to talk through the experience. Our retail manager’s go-to suggestion is usually pork butt or brisket. “Can’t go wrong with either,” she explains. They’re generally large, crowd-pleasing cuts (or “crowd feeders” as Martha Stewart calls them) and, after some initial prep, the (slow) cooking is simple. Another option is leg of lamb.  If the party is going to be a cookout, or even if it’s not, ground meat and sausages are two other easy options on offer. If you’re up for doing a little more, we’re big fans of ribs.

If you have a crowd coming soon and you’re feeling overwhelmed, there are other general rules to follow to make the experience less daunting and maybe even easy. This isn’t a time to serve anything fussy or time consuming to make. This goes for appetizers, too. If your oven is already on for pork butt, stuff it with starchy goodness that will go far – baked pasta is always a good idea, so are roasted vegetables.

And let people pitch in. If no one is offering, brazenly ask for help and delegate! Friends and family can take over whole categories of foods from pitchers of cocktails to dessert to take some of the work off you. And then you can focus on the meat. Which, let’s face it, is usually everyone’s favorite.