We are launching a new network and want to focus/funnel users to our top sites. We have hundreds of domains, but most of them don't really merit their own development (many were bought for brand protection), and would ideally redirect to one of the top sites, which there are only a handful of (20ish)
For example, we have a food category. Our main site in this category is something like FoodSite.com. We have dozens of smaller subcategories that fit into the food category. Like BakingSite.com, PastrySite.com, SnackFoodSite.com and so forth.
If we 301 redirect PastrySite.com, BakingSite.com, and dozens of other ones to the main portal, FoodSite.com, are we making a terrible SEO mistake? We know people who go to PastrySite.com will be interested in FoodSite.com (and have relevant, quality content there for them), but PastrySite.com does not merit its own page at this time.
What would be the best approach to this in regards to SEO? Everything i'm reading tells me 301 redirect, but I've never seen the topic discussed at such a large scaled (hundreds of sub-categories pointing to 20ish strong umbrella sites with quality content).
Any points would be greatly appreciated!