Cooking for 20 people for a week! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 06-04-2010, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
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My family is going to be renting a house together for a week. 7 kids ranging in age from 4-14--the rest are adults. Everyone eats pretty well-rounded, basic stuff--except for me, only bc. I am a vegetarian.

So--anyway, I am in charge of meal planning & am starting to freak out. I am not even sure what pots & pans are available--or even if there will be a big grocery store, so I need to keep things simple. FWIW, I am willing to make meated items, as I am the only veg.

Any suggestions?

I feel like Mrs. Duggar!
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#2 of 10 Old 06-04-2010, 04:03 PM
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Are you planning breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner? or just dinners...?

Keep in mind activities that will making an involved meal more difficult (like are you going to be at the beach through lunchtime and need to brings stuff with you or will you be at the house and cooking).

Where will you be going? Is there any way to find out the stores in the area and the supplies available in the house? (Like is there a grill? Does it need propane or charcoal?)

Some things I can think of off the top of my head are:

-Lasagna, garlic bread, green beans, tossed salad
(can use no bake noodles and disposable pans if there are none big enough)

-Burgers (beef or veggie!), Baked beans, tossed salad
(is there going to be a grill?)

-BBQ Chicken, Cole Slaw, Corn on the Cob, tossed salad

-Lemon Pepper Salmon, potato salad, grilled summer veggies, green salad

-Homemade Pizzas topped with any kind of toppings, tossed salad

-Chicken/Beef/Bean Burritos (assemble your own), Rice & Beans, tossed salad

-leftovers (although don't count on there being any/much with that many people around, it can still be an option for a picky eater if there happens to be some)

-Lots of Sandwiches!- (serve with soups, salad, or veggies & dip)
-grilled cheese w/soup,
-lunch meat (turkey, ham, bologna, salami, cheese, etc.)
-grilled veggie paninis
-PBJ (might want it available as an alternate option for other meals too)
-Tuna/Salmon Salad
-Chicken Salad
-Egg Salad

-Taco Dip I know it sounds like a snack but it actually can be a pretty well rounded meal. Mix some heated refried beans with salsa and top with sour cream, shredded cheddar, guacamole (or just diced avocado), and veggies all diced/shredded like tomatoes, lettuce, onions/scallions, peppers, etc. and serve with corn chips. Each person could assemble there own bowl according to preference, or a huge pan of it could be made and everyone scoop out a bowl.

-Pasta salad- whole wheat pasta, bite sized fresh veggies (broccoli, grape tomatoes, carrots, onions, corn, etc.), salad dressing (Italian, balsamic, etc.) and a protein (grilled chicken, beef, salmon/tuna, beans).

trail mix
granola bars
pb on graham crackers
s'mores (more of a dessert/special event)
fresh fruit
dried fruit
crackers and cheese
veggies & dip
salsa/guacamole & chips

Breakfast (keep in mind some people aren't breakfast eaters, or will just want a cup of coffee/tea)
-French Toast casseroles (the kind you assemble the night before and bake up in the morning)

-Cold Cereal w/Milk

-Yogurt & granola

-Pancakes/Regular French Toast: standing at the stove for the length of time this would require would take it off my list personally, unless people got up and ready in waves and you could just make up all the batter needed for people to cook their own (or their child's) portion as they were ready to eat

-PB on toast (with bananas and a cup of tea! mmmm)

-Fruit Smoothies and muffins (if a blender were available)

-Hot cereals- oatmeal, cream of wheat, farina (I remember this was standard when we'd go on vacation as kids. There were nine from my family and five from my cousins, plus my 2 grandparents and this was the easiest (and probably healthiest) breakfast to make) They can mix in brown sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup, fruit, dried fruit, shredded coconut, diced walnuts, etc. to make it more interesting.

Hope some of these ideas help! Maybe ask the families coming what there favorite meal is?

(don't forget about drinks! Water and LOTS of lemonade/iced tea powder is probably easiest)

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#3 of 10 Old 06-07-2010, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Oh My goodness! Thank you so much!

Are you available to be our top chef for the week??
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#4 of 10 Old 06-07-2010, 03:47 PM
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We do this with extended family sometimes as well.

One thing we do is add in a 5:00 "happy hour" snack. It keeps little kids (who are used to eating earlier) and teenagers (who just like to eat) happy, as well as keep people out of the kitchen, if they aren't helping.

So, our snack might be chex mix or cream cheese/pepper jelly/crackers or popcorn or boiled peanuts or anything, really. We just know to have one ready every evening. Keeps everyone a bit happier.

I second the pretty easy, standard suppers:
spaghetti (can do a smaller pot of meatless sauce)
hamburgers/veggie burgers
baked potatoes with lots of toppings
a seafood night--you can just get fresh shrimp and steam them
shredded pork/beef/chicken (cook in crockpot) sandwiches with BBQ sauce
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#5 of 10 Old 06-07-2010, 04:43 PM
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I would probably make breakfast a "fend for yourself" meal. Have a few different cereals, milk, eggs, bacon, and bread available, and folks can make their own. Some won't eat, as mentioned above, others want lots. Plus I don't know if everyone gets up at the same time - in my opinon that's rare. You could do a "special" breakfast on the last or first day with a casserole-type dish.

Will you have a grill? The place we stayed at didn't have AC so cooking outdoors was a big plus. And I'm sure you don't want to be stuck inside a lot either. Corn on the cob, a couple of different salads, regular/veggie burgers, hot dogs and you're in business. Or you could alternate a grilled meal and a cooked one, depending on weather/activities maybe? Popsicles or fresh fruit make a great dessert if your vacation will be during the summer.

Sandwiches for lunch I think will be great as a PP suggested. I'd consider a sandwich buffet so everyone can choose toppings, and a big platter of veggies/dip and a salad maybe.
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#6 of 10 Old 06-07-2010, 06:07 PM
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moosewood has an app for that... i mean, cookbook..
it's called moosewood cooks for a crowd, recipes with a vegetarian emphasis for 24 or more... if you are addicted to cookbooks. i am.

Is it getting lonely in the echo chamber yet?

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#7 of 10 Old 06-07-2010, 06:15 PM
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I would also make things like spaghetti sauce and meatballs early in the morning and keep them warm in the oven for dinner.

And cook ahead so dinner just has to be reheated the next night (taco meat reheats well). If you're in the kitchen for 1 meal, might as well cook two, kwim?

Also, no one mentioned sloppy joes--easy dinner works well with beans or salad on the side.

Good luck! Be sure to designate some sous chefs so you're not by yourself.


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#8 of 10 Old 06-07-2010, 07:27 PM
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When we have family gatherings I usually plan meals for the first day or two but then each family within the family takes a meal or two. That way one person is not doing all of the planning, shopping and cooking and everyone is usually happier if they have had a say in at least one main meal!

People usually like to go to the grocery store to get their own favourite breakfast foods and some snacks to share and lunches and dinners are usually shared.
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#9 of 10 Old 06-07-2010, 08:49 PM
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Day one-B-scrambled eggs/toast/fresh sliced fruit/bacon?
L-pasta salad w chickpeas, black olives, tomatoes and basil(make extra pasta)
D-Burgers/oven fries/tossed salad(make extra salad)

Day two-B-fruit/yogurt and granola(seriously this will get GOBBLED)
L-sandwiches-peanut butter or meat w leftover salad w chips
D-Cook a whole chicken(seems like work but just throw it in the oven and away you go) w carrots and potatoes(make extra roasted potatoes) in the oven serve with sliced tomatoes and cukes-you can cook the veg away from the meat and throw in a fake piece of chicken to warm up for yourself

Day three-B-pancakes w fruit and seeds inside
L-Gazpacho-cold tomato soup w tomatoes(can used canned if cheaper, cukes, onion garlic, carrots, blend then add in black beans and serve with tortilla chips
D-Pasta night-use the leftover pasta and make a tomato sauce and reheat the noodles in the sauce-Make extra ground beef

Day four-B-Breakfast casserole-use cheap aluminum tins from the $ store and prep the night before-make a veg and a meat version
L-use the leftover chicken and make a huge tossed salad w veg, black beans, and crunched up tortilla chips with the leftover chicken on top for the meat eaters
D-Shepards pie-use the extra ground beef mash the extra potatoes use frozen corn, make yourself a veg version w beans-serve with salad or sliced veg

Day 5-B-Peanut butter or jam on toast w fruit
L-Egg salad sandwiches(hard boil extra eggs) w carrot and celery sticks and pickles
D-Grill kabobs-prepare assembily style-one person attaches the meat, then one do the onion keep going down the line until they are ready. Serve with rice and salad

Day 6-B-harboiled eggs leftover from yest w fruit
L-Grill burgers/hot dogs
D-Frozen pizza and salad

Then a take out/fend for yourself/leftover day

I would make sure to have peanut butter, bread, and cereal on hand for picky eaters BUT you start eating to much boxed stuff and the bill for 20 people is going to be insane

Snacks-I would have chopped carrots and dip available, bananas, watermelon, peanut butter and bread, popcorn for poping on the stove

mommy daddy son daughter = our family
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#10 of 10 Old 06-08-2010, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow! I thought that I was a good meal planner, but this is awewome! So many great ideas here. Thanks, mamas.
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