How to prepare a meal for 10 people in under an hour

Meal preparation for family visits

I have had relatives visiting from Malaysia for the past 7 days. Their trip was hectic but an enjoyable time with the family. It was a great opportunity to get to know them better.

So when it’s time to prepare a meal for 10 people, how do you manage to get 2-3 dishes out in under 1 hour? This is a skill that I am still refining, and it is getting better with every lot of visitors.

We had meals at home at least once a day, i.e. breakfast and we would take them out to try other cuisine such as Italian, Vietnamese, Australian, pub food etc.


We would have it at home. The age group of the relatives varied from a 15 month old to 70 plus. The food would vary depending on how they like it. The elderly relatives would appreciate hot meals, especially during the cold winter mornings. Our cousins, on the other hand, would prefer something totally different from what they used to have in Malaysia. And as for the little baby boy, he was happy with whatever he could get his hands on.

So for our cousins, I got them:

  • ham
  • smoked salmon
  • avocado
  • bread and lots of homemade jam for them.

As for the other elderly relatives, including myself and my husband, we would prepare something savoury and hot, like:

  • Plain porridge with soy sauce pork, spicy dried shrimp with chilli and onion, omelette with dried turnip
  • steamed buns
  • fried noodle
  • fried rice
  • fried rice noodle
  • noodle soup.

The meal was coupled with freshly brewed Chinese tea and Malaysian coffee.


We would have a proper sit down dinner with rice and 2-3 dishes. This is the tricky part, how to get 2-3 dishes ready for 10 people in under one hour?

Firstly, I precooked a few dishes before they arrived, such as chicken curry, soy sauce pork, “jew hoo char” (cuttle fish stir fry vegetables). If possible, prewash and cut all vegetables and meat, mince a bottle of garlic and prepare various types of chillies in advance.

The first night, we had steamboat. I would pre-marinade the raw ingredients, shell the prawns, clean and cut the fish, mince the pork balls/ fish balls, and vegetables were washed and cut.

The stock was prepared on the day prior to their arrival. So when the steamed boat was ready to be served, all I had to do was set the table, prepare the steamed boat stove and just lay out all the pre-marinated raw ingredients.

The main thing is to plan the dishes ahead, prepare all the ingredients well in advance and pre-cook any dishes that are suitable for freezing. This way, you will save lots of time in the kitchen and have more time to enjoy the relatives. Most of all, have readymade curry pastes handy.

Oh yes, clear your fridge and freezer prior, as you will need heaps of storage space for the additional ingredients.

And a big thank you to our relatives for helping with the meal preparations, and setting up the table, clearing the table and washing up the dishes. It did help to speed things up a lot.

I will be sharing some other dishes in the next few blogs.

Have a great day