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How We Fed A Crowd While On Our Family Vacation (Full Menu Plan for 26 People)

If your extended family is going on a vacation, these are GREAT ideas for a frugal menu plan!

 

Need some ideas for food to make while on vacation with a crowd? Two weeks ago, my entire extended family (except my brother who is working on the The Wilds camp this summer and couldn’t take time off) went to Bull Shoals Lake.

We’ve been doing this trip together as a family since before I was married. The number of people who come each year has slowly grown as my siblings have gotten married and we’ve had babies. We’re now up to 26 people total (My parents, my six siblings, plus their spouses and kids!)

On this trip, we stay in cabins that have kitchens so we bring food and make it there for all but one night. We all pitch in to help with meals, ingredients, cooking, baking, and clean up. This way, there’s not too much work on any one person’s shoulders.

Many of you asked for details on what we cook and how it works, so I’m posting our entire menu plan so you can get ideas. 🙂

My sister planned the menus based upon what she knows that everyone would like/eat/would give some options for those on special diets or who have food allergies and then she put together a sign up form on TakeThemaMeal.com for everyone to sign up for what they wanted to bring.

I know that this might not work in some families, but because of the dynamics of our family, this works really well for us. It’s also nice because then everyone can sign up for what types of food they like to bring or what meals they’d prefer to help make.

My sister set up the sign up sheet so that every menu item was on a different line and if you signed up for something, you were responsible to get the ingredients for it and make it for that meal.

Some of the items were really easy things, like bringing a jar of pickles or a bag of tater tots. Others were a little more time intensive, like making bread or mashed potatoes or a main dish.

Here was our menu plan:

Breakfasts

Pancakes, Eggs, Bacon, Juice
Ice Cream Soaked French Toast, Eggs, Bacon, Juice
Baked Oatmeal, Sausage, Eggs, Juice
Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists, Eggs, Bacon, Juice
Cold Cereal

Lunches:

Salad Bar, Leftovers, Snack-y Foods (everyone brings some snack type foods to contribute and share)

Dinners:

  • Spaghetti Pie, Green Beans, Garlic Bread, Lettuce Salad, Fruit
  • Papa John’s Pizza (we had a gift card and there was a 30% off coupon, so we ended up getting a LOT of pizza for very little out of pocket!)
  • Grilled Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli, Lettuce Salad, Fruit, Biscuits
  • Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, Watermelon, French Fries, Corn on the Cob, Veggie Tray, Steamed Veggies
  • Chicken Bean Burritos (topped with lettuce, sour cream, and salsa) Fried Rice, Fruit

And that’s that! I did want to mention that some of the meals were more allergy-friendly than others, so on a few of the nights where they weren’t as allergen-friendly, those with food allergies made some other for the main dish.

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8 Comments

  • Akaya says:

    This is cool, thanks for sharing this!

  • Janis Raines says:

    I asked this earlier, but you probably did not see my question since I posted late. Do you have prices/contact number for the cabins–also exact location on the lake?
    Like you, we have 27 (10 adults and 17 children, ages 1-20. We have been going to Hilton Head for about 20 years. Even though we rent a big house at the last minute to get a reduced rate, the prices are getting to be more than we can afford. (Three of the five couples are in some form of ministry, and three are now paying for college.)

    I, the grandma, cook breakfast every morning and enjoy doing it. Families eat leftovers/bring their own lunches. Each couple cooks one night, and we eat out the first and last days. We try to get a house with pool, spend lots of time bike-riding, and play a lot of games at night.

  • Lana says:

    I commend your family for sharing the work and contribution of all the meals. For some reason our kids and their families still think that I should spend all of my time in the kitchen when they visit. It is exhausting to do all the meals for 18 day after day.

  • Jená Bowen says:

    Great ideas on all the food. Sharing the work is definitely the way to go. So neat to hear about your brother working at The Wilds. (Sorry he missed the family gathering though!) My husband and I worked there in the 90’s and now our kids attend as campers. I hope he had a great summer. I learned a lot about prayer and dependence on the Lord when I worked there. Thanks again for the post!

  • Katia says:

    My extended family of 26 will be getting together next spring. We are so thankful for this post!

  • Janell says:

    We camp with my husband’s family the week of spring break at the same lake every year. The tradition was started 45+ years ago. We (he and I) missed the week we got married but everyone else went after the wedding. Some years we have as many as 30 there. But the core group is 13. So, yes, we spend EVERY year camping on our anniversary. In fact, this last November we took a cruise and it was the first trip we had had alone since our honeymoon 27 years ago. We aren’t THAT coordinated on our planning. We have a basic plan we follow every year and everyone brings enough of that item for their family and we cook together for lunches normally. Because by the time you come in from fishing at night it’s time for bed. So we eat leftovers and sandwiches at night.

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