Need help planning a weekend worth of food for 30 people. - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-04-2010, 04:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband is in a singing group that he started back in college. Back in 1994 it was just 5 guys. Now, 16 years later, there are 30 of us with wives and kids! Every year we get together the last weekend of July. This year it's our year to host, and I'll be 22 weeks pregnant with twins.

Traditionally, we've had families bring breakfast cereal and snacks. Meal planning is the responsibility of the host family, and the meals generally follow this pattern:
Friday night: something that people can just pick up as they arrive
Saturday breakfast
Saturday lunch
Saturday dinner: A big meal, sometimes on the grill
Sunday breakfast: cereal, fruit, stuff people can get themselves because the men sing at church and the rest of us are getting the kids ready for the late service
Sunday lunch: a big huge picnic that some church members and family (whoever has family in the area) attends
Sunday dinner:
Monday breakfast: the men make pancakes and eggs to order
Monday breakfast: we have sandwich materials so people can pack stuff to take

I'm really stressing out about this. I actually haven't cooked in 7 weeks. I'm really sick and just going into the kitchen triggers me. I am starting to feel better in the mornings and don't feel awful until around 4, but I just don't know what my nausea and energy level are going to be like.

Also, we're staying at a cabin owned by some church members. I know there's a regular kitchen, but I'm not sure what's available as far as a grill and things like that.

So...

how can I make this as easy as possible? To top it off, the host family pays the food bill, so as economical as possible would be great as well.

ETA: I could probably ask the other wives for help, but I'd rather not for pride reasons. I think a few years ago we tossed around the idea of each family being responsible for planning and carrying out a meal, but we ended up vetoing the idea because all the wives except one are a bunch of type-A anal retentive control freaks.

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Old 06-04-2010, 04:48 PM
 
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one of my go to meals for breakfast when feeding a crowd is a breakfast casserole. I add/subtract items based on tastes and whats on sale but a huge plus is its prepared the night before and bakes in the oven. Huge crowd pleaser. I basically use this recipe and tweak it a bit. I add eggs,sausage (what ever is on sale or shredded bacon I use 1/2 the amt called for in the recipe) diced onion,tomato,green pepper and a bag of shredded hash browns. Very filling.

http://www.johnsonville.com/home/rec...s?showRecipe=4

I have also done an assort of bagels, cream cheeses and a huge bowl of say cut up seasonal fruit all of which takes no prep in morning but setting it out. I also will add something like assort. cereals. maybe muffins made previously.
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Old 06-04-2010, 04:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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one of my go to meals for breakfast when feeding a crowd is a breakfast casserole. I add/subtract items based on tastes and whats on sale but a huge plus is its prepared the night before and bakes in the oven. Huge crowd pleaser. I basically use this recipe and tweak it a bit. I add eggs,sausage (what ever is on sale or shredded bacon I use 1/2 the amt called for in the recipe) diced onion,tomato,green pepper and a bag of shredded hash browns. Very filling.

http://www.johnsonville.com/home/rec...s?showRecipe=4

I have also done an assort of bagels, cream cheeses and a huge bowl of say cut up seasonal fruit all of which takes no prep in morning but setting it out. I also will add something like assort. cereals. maybe muffins made previously.
Oh, that looks great. And it looks like it could be made ahead of time? And I like the bagels idea. Thanks!

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Old 06-04-2010, 04:59 PM
 
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If you have a bread maker maybe you could make some breads (banana, zucchini, cinnamon raison etc.) to go along with breakfast. That would allow you to be in the kitchen less and you could make them ahead and even freeze them to make it easier. Also they would travel well and wouldn't cost much. You could serve with fruit, hard boiled eggs and even sausage made ahead and heated up.

Lunch or dinner salads? Ham salad, chicken salad, pasta salad, cabbage apple salad? I am trying to think of things that you could make ahead to be less stressed.

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Old 06-04-2010, 05:09 PM
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Phew! I'm tired yet excited thinking about this!! at 22 weeks with twins, you might still have some energy... and hopefully not be feeling so sick too. OK, so admittedly, true to form, i've rambled a bit here.. but the ideas are in there I promise!

will the guests be helping with meal prep, or is that all on you too? that could make a difference in some of my suggestions.

I have a few ideas:

do you make your own yogurt, or buy it? that could be good to have on hand for breakfasts, the 32 oz containers might be enough for probably 6 servings per tub, so you'd be served well with 5 containers per day, assuming everyone eats it. or, less really! Fruit: whatever is in season and on sale the week before everyone arrives. No need for a huge selection. In july.. hmmm what's good? everything! so, just grab whatever has the least expensive unit price and go. bananas are cheap and most people like them. Nuts: trader joes has good prices on big bags that you can put out in a bowl with a spoon for putting on yogurt/in cereal. grocery store might also have a good sale on the loose nuts in the produce section- store in fridge or freezer till july to keep fresh.


you can bake a lot ahead of time and freeze it, even if it's this month some time when you have the energy! Blueberry muffins are generally a crowd-pleaser. Less expensive and just as yummy option would be a simple cinnamon swirl muffin. no fruit to buy! Just go nuts baking one Saturday morning - I'm thinking a triple or quadruple batch so, like 6-8 dozen muffins... you could even do minis so it "seems" like more... (that would mean you'd get 12 dz!) and for the kids, they could take just one and not waste 1/2 of a big one....
with the cereal that the others contribute, you should be good. yogurt, fruit, cereal or muffin, and maybe some big jugs of fruit juice. again, maybe 2 varieties necessary, don't go nuts! for 2 days, they can eat the same things for breakfast.

dinners- again, whatever is a good price for veggies that week before. Or what about a big spaghetti dinner with some home-made fresh marinara with deliciously in-season tomatoes? you could get big loaves of bread at the bakery counter at the end of the day for 1/2 price (freeze if you see them this month!), and make large loaves of garlic bread, cut down into slices and serve with the pasta. add some kind of protein like sausage, chicken, ground beef on the side maybe? Or do a big pot of meatless chili and a baked potato bar? potatoes are cheap! you could easily cook all 30 in the oven at once. chili can be prepped at home before you go to the cabin, assembled in the morning and put on the stove for a few hours (or in lots of crock pots if you can borrow from neighbors?!)

if you're grilling, keep an eye out for sales on grill meat- now is the perfect time, actually, with the summer parties coming. grocery stores have good prices now. you could make hamburger patties ahead of time.
inexpensive cuts include flank and skirt steak- they need marinating, but can be delicious if cooked well. cut into strips and serve as fajitas with seasonal veggies. chicken thighs are also yummy and less $$ than breast. bone in grills better and costs less. you probably know that. my local store has been having sales for the last few weeks on packs of thighs & drums (with bone) for like $1.99/lb. pretty good! plan on at least 1/2 lb per person when thinking of bone in. for meats in a fajita, you could also do 1/3-1/2 lb (precooked weight) per person

Sunday dinner can be light since the picnic will probably have people full. that could be pasta night?

it's overwhelming, but remember, these are your friends, and while they all need to eat, it doesnt have to be extravagant!

have fun with it!

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Old 06-04-2010, 05:13 PM
 
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Oh, that looks great. And it looks like it could be made ahead of time? And I like the bagels idea. Thanks!
definately in fact making ahead of time makes it extra yummy!!! I usually make it up the night before add to fridge and then pop in oven the morning of..lets just say the smell of it always drags tired guests up! I use those throw away foil pans to make it extra easy and no cleanup.
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Old 06-04-2010, 05:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, they'll be helping, LOL! The mamas are great helpers and I can probably get the older kids to help as well. The men are usually off singing, but we're nice and let them since they only see each other once a year.

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Old 06-04-2010, 05:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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LZP, those are great ideas-- thank you!

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Old 06-04-2010, 05:33 PM
 
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I second the spaghetti dinner idea. Just add garlic bread and maybe some bagged salad/lettuce and you're good. Also, you could do a soup dinner for Sunday evening. Everyone will be tired and possibly still kind of full from the picnic lunch so you could do chicken noodle soup, chili or lentil soup. Let me know and I can send you the recipes I use on FB. Add bread and simple dessert and you're done.

Another great meal idea for large groups is a holdover from when I was SDA. They're called "haystacks" in the SDA culture but most people would call them taco salad. Basically, you have a big pot of chili beans (I think you could buy them in bulk at Sam's), tortilla chips or corn chips and then various toppings such as cheese, sour cream, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, etc. Lay everything out and people can assemble their own. Very filling and kids love it!

For breakfast, I would do as someone else suggested and start baking now. Muffins do well in the freezer and you can usually find mixes on sale at various stores. When Kroger has their banana nut muffin mix on sale for $1/box, I stock up. You can make muffins or bread with it. Bagels and cream cheese are also a good idea.

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Old 06-04-2010, 09:19 PM
 
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Friday Night - I'd have some sandwiches and salads out like pasta salad, potato salad, and maybe a veggie/fruit tray. People could just make their own plates.

Saturday & Monday Breakfast - I like the bagels idea that was mentioned. You can often get them buy one get one free (not sure how picky you are about food... they aren't the best ingredients in those but they would be cheaper). Add in some toppings and fruit. Or you could just have a big thing of scrambled eggs, toast, and maybe ham or something? That wouldn't be too hard, just depends on which type of breakfast you'd rather serve.

Saturday Lunch - Maybe Sloppy Joes? That's easy to make a big batch of. Or Macaroni & Cheese with a few veggie sides? Or grilled cheese, grilled ham and cheese, with salad and fruit. Possibly Red Beans & Rice with sausage as an option?

Saturday and Sunday Night - My first thought was spaghetti, but that was mentioned. The next thing I thought of was tacos. You could just lay everything out and let everyone make their own. You could make sides like spanish rice, guacamole, salsa, chips, etc. That way it is easily able to adapt to individual tastes. And not too expensive or time consuming. Another idea would be to have a bunch of ingredients out and let everyone make their own kabobs and then have the guys grill them up for you. This can be an all in one deal where you wouldn't have to do too much more except maybe another side like baked potatoes or something or have them over rice.


Sunday Breakfast - You said cereal, fruit, etc.

Sunday Lunch - I would do something like hamburgers, hot dogs, with a few typical picnic type sides. Baked beans, pasta salad, corn on the cobb, etc.

Monday Lunch - You said sandwiches, sounds perfect.

If these are people that in general don't care too much about ingredients or nutrition the easiest thing might be to buy a few bulk items at Costco or the like and then just heat and serve. That would just depend on how much help you have and like I said how conscious they are about what they eat.

Good luck! You are a brave woman to take this one!

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Old 06-04-2010, 09:31 PM
 
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How about lasagna?

You could make a couple of meat lasagnas and a couple of vegetarian ones ahead of time and freeze them (so you could make them when you're having a less sick day). Put them in disposable foil pans. Depending on how far away you're going they should be fine in the car- and definitely fine in a cooler.

Then just grab some bagged salad, a couple dressings, and some loaves of garlic bread.

I'd think you could probably fit four lasagnas in an oven at a time- get them cooked nice and really hot, and then throw the garlic bread in the already-hot oven.

The only issue with this is if you'll be around for a while before dinner, because they'll take a while to cook from frozen.

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Old 06-05-2010, 08:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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These are just wonderful ideas! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Let's see...

I'm honestly not concerned about it being the healthiest food in the universe made from the best ingredients in the universe. It's just for one weekend, and I'm probably the most uptight about organics and stuff.

Also, usually the men go and practice at the church in the morning on Saturday, come back for lunch, and then the mamas go and do something fun in the afternoon. The guys have started dinner before, I think, and should be able to manage popping lasagna in the oven.

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Old 06-08-2010, 07:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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One of the mamas sent an email asking if I wanted each family to take a meal. I really, really do. Someone tell me to let go of my pride and take her up on the offer. That would be 4 meals taken care of!

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Old 06-09-2010, 03:56 AM
 
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One of the mamas sent an email asking if I wanted each family to take a meal. I really, really do. Someone tell me to let go of my pride and take her up on the offer. That would be 4 meals taken care of!
This is 30 people..so yeah I would take the offer. You could always put out snack foods or nosh-able things. Fruit trays and cheese and bread always round out a meal and look kinda fancy.

I was going to suggest that you precook most of your food. We are usually a good sized crowd when we go camping. The last camp out we had I precooked breakfast burrito fillings and sealed every thing in seal saver bags. The bags meant more room in the cooler and less dishes to wash. Dh slow roasted a pork shoulder 2 days prior for me to shred and bag for sandwiches. I precooked beef stroganoff..and boiled the noodles right before with some frozen veggies in the same pot at the same time. I premixed my pancake batter with the eggs and milk included and kept it in a big juice bottle in the cooler. The pancakes came out so thick and fluffy ..better than they normally do. You could buy the big can of Bush Pinto Beans at Walmart and add the chili seasonings and have brats or kielbasa sausage with it. Corn bread and potatoes are good to make any meal more filling.

I would take the ladies up on the offer though.
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Old 06-09-2010, 11:27 AM
 
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One of the mamas sent an email asking if I wanted each family to take a meal. I really, really do. Someone tell me to let go of my pride and take her up on the offer. That would be 4 meals taken care of!
Do it! They would probably like to help! You don't need to strain yourself with your twins if it's not necessary!

Mama to (DS 7) and (DD 5), wife to DH

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Old 06-09-2010, 01:33 PM
 
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I make a similar breakfast casserole but instead of hashbrowns, I use english muffins (split). The english muffin version must sit over night.

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One of the mamas sent an email asking if I wanted each family to take a meal. I really, really do. Someone tell me to let go of my pride and take her up on the offer. That would be 4 meals taken care of!
Oh please, let go of that pride! I am tired just thinking about you!

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