This is not going to be a recipe post so don't go running for the hills. The idea is to give you a plan, or method of planning so that you don't wind up cooking for 40 people 10 times.
I also am not going to discuss the merits of paper plates (Or styrofoam for that matter). Personally, I like to eat on dishes. I think most people do. It's the washing that gets you going. It's a trade off, and everyone knows what their limits are. So you can figure that part out for yourself.
In my family, we are not huge meat eaters, so many of these plans involve milchig or parve meals. For some, this will be an anethema. However, trust me, after a the first few chickens, you begin to think you want something else out of life. Usually I place the milchig meal in the middle of the day, which lends itself to numerous milchigs treats and then go back to chicken soup and kneidl after kiddush, which only seems right.
So, these milchig meals that I speak of, what are they really. It depends. We need something that can be cooked in advance and reheated, or eaten at several different times. Exhibit A: Fish. That salmon gifilte fish is just great. You can bake it, or boil it, defrost it halfway, then slice, bread and fry it up. With some baked potatos you have a meal. Also, there are the fish filets now, salmon and tilapia, seasoned and not. If you serve these once, you can serve the leftovers in a salad, or in a pasta salad.
Exhibit B: Lasange. Always a big hit in my house. YOu can make it with the fake meat, or with a vegie filling. Assemble in advance, freeze or refrigerate, put in the oven and forget about it. This also works for Eggplant parmigan and tuna noodle casserole. Either way, I like to start this with a cream of mushroom or mushroom barley soup and serve with a leafy salad. Ice cream pie for desert, yum.
Exhibit C:We will call this short cuts
. These are for the times, for example after hakafos or after too many days of Yomtif, when you don't want a big meal. My biggest seller here is tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwichs. But there is an entire omlet section, french toast (oven or griddle)(good for when you have a lot of leftover challa)potato latkes (not just for pasech anymore) and the salad bar with croutons and cheese and eggs or fish in there, apples, raisen, craisens, nuts - Go crazy. And EZ clean up too.
Finally, and most importantly, have on hand a pound of sliced deli meat (baloney works for me) at least a lb of tuna and some eggsalad in the frig. When the kids say they are hungry, feed them a sandwich. You work on the meals, the snacks will take care of themselves. There is nothing wrong with a tuna bagel and a banana at 11:20 when lunch is still 2 hours away. Hungry Children = stress, and the corrolary Hungry Mommy = ++ stress ++. So as long as it's not a fast day. Eat.
Lastly, remember to take care of yourself. I said it before, put on your own oxygen mask first, otherwise, the rest won't matter. You may be a mom, but you are also a person. You have feelings and you have needs and you don't need to apologize for either. So be good to yourself, whatever that takes, and Mrs. Balabusta will see you on the other side.