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Category: From My Kitchen

Recipes for a Crowd of People on Family Vacation (Full Menu Plan for 26 People!)

Going on a big family vacation sooner or entertaining a large group? Check out these easy recipes for a crowd of people — including our full menu plan for 26 people!

Be sure to also check out these Cheap Meals for Large Groups and these Easy Meals for 20 People!

easy recipes for a crowd of people on vacation

Recipes for a Crowd of People on Vacation

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!)

crowd of people on vacation

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.

recipes to feed a huge crowd

How We Make This Work

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 on recipes for a crowd of people. 🙂

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.

bread and salad for a crowd

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.

spaghetti pie for a crowd

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.

breakfast for a crowd

Our Menu Plan of Easy Recipes for a Crowd of People

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

breakfast for a crowd

baked oatmeal for breakfast

grilling out with family

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.

Do you have any other easy recipes for a crowd of people? I’d love to hear in the comments!

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Hospitality on a $70 Budget + GREAT deals at Kroger this weekend!

You can show hospitality even on a small grocery budget! This post is so inspiring!!

I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 grocery budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you click through and sign up. Read our disclosure policy here.

One of the best parts of this $70/week grocery budget challenge is not that we’re saving a few hundred dollars every month (though I’m stoked about that!) nor is it the fact that I’ve been re-invigorated to fill our freezer with food (we currently have close to 15 meals in there and I’m slowly adding to the stash every week!).

The best part is that buying ahead and stocking up on the sales and markdowns and being more of a strategic shopper means we have a lot more food at our house at any one given time — which means that spontaneous hospitality is so much easier to pull off!

Wednesday morning, I had the idea to invite a mom and her four kids over for dinner. She just recently moved to the area with her kids and I well remember what a big move like that is like!

I looked in our fridge and cupboards and realized I had just bought 7 pounds of marked down meat the day before, plus I had corn on the cob, marked down potatoes, and some frozen broccoli.

So we invited her family over plus two other families from church. I texted everyone and said that I was just making what I already had on hand. It wouldn’t be anything fancy, but we’d love to have them!

We ended up having 18 people for dinner — and we had plenty of food! Meatballs, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, roasted broccoli, and the other women offered to bring salad, mac and cheese, and fruit.

It was simple, it was inexpensive, and it was an evening of laughter, great conversation, and games.

Hospitality doesn’t have to require a lot of extra time or special ingredients. It doesn’t even mean you need to spend more $$ to pull off.

Hospitality is about welcoming people into your real life and bringing your real, imperfect selves to the table. It’s about saying, “Welcome! I want to share what we have with you. Come as you are and pull up a chair!”

While I was working on making food for our guests on Wednesday, Kaitlynn made two dinners’ worth of Spaghetti Casserole. We just made up the recipe using pasta we had gotten marked down, cheese I got on sale, pasta sauce I got from Aldi, ground sausage I got marked down, and cottage cheese I had gotten marked down and had frozen.

Kroger has some GREAT sales this weekend! Download their digital coupons (they are good through Monday evening) to get Seedless Watermelon for just $1.99 each (you can purchase up to 5 watermelon in one transaction at this price).

They also have Kroger Ice Cream Sandwiches and Fruit Bars for just $0.99 per box with the digital coupon (you can get up to 5 boxes in one transaction at this price).

I got the watermelon to take to a picnic we’re attending tonight where we’re supposed to bring enough of a side dish to feed 15 people and I got the ice cream sandwiches for tomorrow evening since we’re having two families over for pizza!

My total for the 5 boxes of bars/ice cream sandwiches + the watermelon was $9.49 — bringing my grand total for this week in grocery expenditures to $68, $2 under my $70 grocery budget!

Total spent so far this week: $68 (Yes! $68 even!)

Total left to spend: $2

Rebates: $1.50 Ibotta rebate for buying the 2 Fage yogurts, $0.25 Ibotta rebate for submitting my receipt, + a second $0.25 Ibotta rebate for submitting another receipt.

See our $70 menu plan for this week. See all my posts about our $70 grocery budget here.

Re-inventing the Layered Dip Recipe

This Layered Nacho Dip recipe can be tweaked to fit all preferences or dietary restrictions. It's SO easy and versatile!

I wanted to make Layered Nacho Dip for the Super Bowl. This is a recipe that my mom used to make and then my sisters and I made it often when we were growing up.

I haven’t made it very often since I’ve gotten married and had kids, because two of the kids don’t like raw onions, one doesn’t eat tomatoes, Jesse doesn’t eat olives, and two of us don’t like spicy things. (We sound high maintenance or picky. We really aren’t about most things; this dip just seems to have all of the few things we don’t eat in it!)

So I decided to re-make the Layered Nacho Dip recipe to be a little bit more in line with what my kids and husband would like.

I used one can of refried beans mixed with homemade taco seasoning (well, I actually just dumped in some of the taco seasoning spices because I’m all fancy like that! ;).

Then, I topped it with guacamole because we had that on hand.

Next, I put a layer of sour cream.

Then, I added a layer of black bean salsa.

And I topped it off with shredded cheese.

It might not be as fancy as regular Layered Nacho Dip, but it was still very delicious and my family loved it!

I’m all about making do, using what you have, and never feeling like a recipe is set in stone. It’s a suggestion of how to make something; not a must-follow sort of rulebook! 😉

13 Easy Homemade Bread Recipes {Freezer & Budget Friendly!}

These easy homemade bread recipes are all really budget-friendly. PLUS, you can make all of them ahead of time to freeze for later, so that it saves you time!

There’s something about the smell of homemade bread wafting through your house. Not only does it smell SO welcoming, but fresh-from-the-oven bread is beyond delicious!

Our family loves bread, and one way that I’ve always stretched our grocery budget is by making our own bread at home. You can buy the ingredients for homemade bread and it will last for many, many bread recipes of all kinds.

During the lean law school years earlier on in our marriage, this was one of my favorite ways to save money but also enjoy something delicious! In fact, I often saved us $100-$200 per year by making our own homemade bread!

I know making bread can seem time consuming and requires planning ahead, and that’s why I love to make bread ahead of time and freeze it for later!

Here are 13 of my very favorite homemade bread recipes that are frugal, easy to make, and freezer-friendly…

1. Homemade Freezer Biscuits — Say goodbye forever to canned biscuits. This recipe is a winner. It’s quick, easy, inexpensive, and so practical. Best of all, you control what ingredients go in it, unlike canned biscuits that you buy at the store.

2. Easy Freezer-Friendly Homemade Pizza Dough — This pizza crust recipe has been my go-to recipe for years. It’s so easy to make — and it’s really hard to ruin. In fact, I’ve made it dozens upon dozens of times and I don’t think I’ve ever messed it up.

3. Homemade Breadsticks in the Bread Machine — These are SO easy to make — and absolutely delicious, too! To make these freezer-friendly, just wait until you reheat them to add the melted butter, parmesan, and garlic.

4. 30 Minute Rolls — This recipe has been a favorite in our family for many years. We’ve made so many batches of these rolls that I have the recipe memorized. They are so yummy and a hit with everyone who eats them. And you’ll be shocked by how easy and FAST they are to whip up!

5. Pull Apart Oat Rolls — The addition of oatmeal and whole wheat flour gives these tall, fluffy rolls a hearty boost! You can even substitute wheat germ or wheat bran in place of some of the whole wheat flour for a little different twist. If you can’t eat them all at once, they freeze well and reheat beautifully.

6. Easy Whole Wheat Muffins — These consist of only a few staple ingredients, making them extremely frugal and easy to make. They are also a lifesaver for those day-before-grocery-shopping emergencies where you really need something else to serve with dinner, but your cupboards are almost empty! These muffins are surprisingly moist, even though they don’t have any oil or butter in them. So for those of you trying to watch your fat intake, use low-fat buttermilk, and this recipe can be your new best friend.

7. Easy and Delicious Homemade English Muffin Bread — I made this recipe back in 2012 for the first time as a DIY project one month. I’m so glad I tried the recipe, because it’s an ongoing winner in our house. It’s so easy to make, so frugal, and SO good. It also freezes beautifully! I make the loaves, slice them, package them in freezer bags, and freeze them. Then, we just take out however many slices we want at a time!

8. Make-Ahead Butterhorn Rolls — These are pretty much hands-down the most-delicious dinner rolls you’ll ever eat. And best of all? You can make up a batch or a double-batch ahead of time and then just pull out, thaw, and bake as many as you need for dinner.

9. Bread Machine Buttery Rolls — This is a recipe from my brother, it uses basic ingredients you usually will always have on hand, and it literally takes about 5 minutes of labor! These rolls always turn out beautifully and my whole family loves them. This is a winner recipe you’ll make over and over again.

10. Chocolate Banana Bread — It’s hard to go wrong with anything that has bananas, chocolate, and chocolate chips. Seriously, though. Chocolate on chocolate. Enough said! 😉

11. Pumpkin Crescent Rolls — When it comes to homemade rolls, it doesn’t get much better than these. You can’t taste the pumpkin in these at all, but the pumpkin is there for a reason. It makes these rolls tender, soft and absolutely delicious! The finished rolls are a beautiful golden fall color – although the color varies depending on what kind of pumpkin you are using.

12. Brown Sugar Biscuit Twists — This recipe is one of our family’s very favorite recipes. I originally adapted it from an old, falling-apart Better Homes and Gardens bread cookbook my mom had when we were growing up. I’ve made these countless times and they are so easy to do and so yummy!

13. Freezer-Friendly Banana Bread — This banana bread recipe freezes so well, and you can add all kinds of fun mix-ins to it if you want! Our favorite is chocolate chips (of course!). We make this whole wheat chocolate chip version frequently!

Bonus Tip: You can also try making your own homemade baking mixes to save money and time!

Looking for other freezer-friendly recipe ideas? Try these:

What are some of your family’s favorite bread recipes? I’d love to hear!

Honey-Roasted Brussels Sprouts (I can’t believe how amazing these are!)

Once I’d had a bite or two of these roasted Brussels sprouts, I promptly reneged every last thing I’d said about how much I despised Brussels sprouts. I was hooked. How come I had gone years of my life not knowing about this amazing-ness??

So here’s the honest truth: For years, I thought Brussels sprouts were absolutely disgusting.

There are very few things I can’t stomach (thanks to my mom always making me eat everything on my plate!), but Brussels sprouts were on my very short “Things I Hope I Never Have to Eat Again” list.

That plan was going great until we went over to someone’s house a few years ago and they served us roasted Brussels sprouts. I ate them because I wanted to be polite, not knowing that my whole opinion of Brussels sprouts was going to completely flip on its head as a result of my effort to be polite.

Let me tell you: there is a major difference between roasting something and boiling something — at least when it comes to Brussels sprouts! Once I’d had a bite or two of these roasted Brussels sprouts, I promptly reneged every last thing I’d said about how much I despised Brussels sprouts.

I was hooked. How come I had gone years of my life not knowing about this amazing-ness??
Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 4.06.09 AM

So recently, when I saw this recipe in the latest issue of All You magazine, I ripped it out and set it on the stack of recipes Jesse had on his desk to use for planning next week’s menu. And I hinted around at how amazing they looked.

But that was that.

Until two days ago, when I get done with an afternoon meeting and Jesse brings me this…
Honey Roasted Brussel Sprouts

And I about squeal.

My man knows the way to his woman’s heart, that’s for sure.

Also, I still cannot believe I am swooning over Brussels sprouts! It almost feels like I need to apologize for that. Or wonder if I’m on the verge of a midlife crisis or something?!

Honey Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I posted this picture on Facebook and Instagram and so many of you requested the recipe that I wanted to share it here. Since I don’t want to keep a good thing to myself.

{Plus, I’d like to introduce you to this addiction of mine not only because these are so amazing, but also so that maybe the trend will catch on and become more mainstream. Then, maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel less self-conscious about my incessant obsession with Brussel sprouts! :)}