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Cheap Meals for Large Groups | Our Vacation Menu Plan for 25+ People

Need some easy recipes or cheap meals for large groups? Here’s how we fed 27 people on our recently family vacation including the meals we made + how we divvied up the responsibilities.

Be sure to also check out these Easy Meals for 20 people + these Recipes for a Crowd of People. Both include full vacation menu plans!

Cheap Meals for Large Groups

Cheap Meals for Large Groups

Last week, we drove to Lampe, MO to spend a week at Table Rock Lake with almost all of my extended family. (This time around, it was my parents, 2 brothers, 3 sisters, and their spouses and kids. My youngest brother couldn’t come because he’s working at the Wild’s Christian Camp this summer).

My dad rented Caboose Junction Resort for us all (it has a main house and then 6 caboose that have been turned into small “cabins”).

In addition to spending lots of time skiing, boating, and swimming, we ate a lot of yummy meals. But in order to feed 27 people without it being too much work, we not only stuck with cheap meals for large groups, but we also all pitched in and helped with the food.

Since you all loved my other vacation menu plan posts about easy meals for 20+ people, I wanted to, once again, share what we ate and how we planned and divided up the responsibilities. This might give you some inspiration in case you need some suggestions for easy meals for 25+ people.

southwest roll-ups for large groups

salad and fruit for large groups

cheap meal ideas: Spaghetti pie  family gathering eating dinner together takeout pizza sliced

How We Planned and Divvied Things Up

Like last time, my sister planned the menu with cheap meals for large groups and sent out a sign-up form using Perfect Potluck (it’s free and so easy to use!). Each family signed up for the main dishes and side dishes they wanted to be in charge of.

Perfect Potluck meal planning for large groups

(A screenshot of the sign up form on Perfect Potluck.)

Whatever meals or parts of meals you signed up for, you were in charge of bringing the ingredients for and cooking/baking.

We also had a sign-up for kitchen clean-up, too, so that one person didn’t have to do a bunch of the clean up and everyone could enjoy plenty of time for fun!

menu plan on fridge

Easy Breakfasts for Large Groups

Here’s what we served for breakfast:

easy french toast breakfast for large groups

Easy Lunches for Large Groups

For lunch, we had our usual huge Build-Your-Own Salad Bar (most all of my family loves salads!). We also had bread and meat/cheese for sandwiches for the kids and any adults who didn’t just want a salad. In addition, we set out any leftovers from breakfast or dinner.

Build-Your-Own Salad Bar Ingredients: A variety of Greens and Lettuce, Canned Salmon, Boiled Eggs, Raisins, Seeds/Nuts, Avocados, Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, Chickpeas, Cherry Tomatoes, Feta Cheese, Croutons, Dressings

easy meals for large groups: build your own taco bar

baked potato bar for dinner

easy meals for large groups: baked potatoes

Simple Dinners for Large Groups

If you’re looking for some really easy and cheap meals for large groups, here’s what we made for the dinners:

  • Spaghetti Pie, Lettuce Salad, Garlic Bread, Green Beans, Fruit
  • Southwest Rollups (Toppings: Shredded Lettuce, Sour Cream, Salsa), Mexican Rice, Fruit
  • Pizza & Soda Pop (We ordered from a local pizza place — we ordered it online and then my dad went and picked it up.)
  • Baked Potato Bar & Five Cup Salad (The toppings we had: Baked Potatoes, Taco Meat, Sour Cream, Cottage Cheese, Chopped Green Onions, Shredded Cheese, Bacon, Salsa, Chopped Tomatoes, Broccoli.)
  • Grilled Chicken, Lettuce Salad, Homemade Biscuits, Corn on the Cob, Fruit Salad, Steamed Veggies,  Twice Baked Potatoes. (I used the leftover baked potatoes to make these.)
  • Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, Homemade French Fries, Veggie Tray, Leftover Corn on the Cob, Leftover Fruit Salad

It’s amazing how it’s not too much work on any one person to feed 25+ people if we all pitch in and help!

What other ideas of easy recipes for 25+ people or cheap meals for large groups do you have? I’d love to hear!

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  • Laura villotta says:

    Hi Crystal: My brother owns a 5 bedroom home walk out to the lake in Lampe MO off Bread Trail Rd. It is the last house at a dead end. We love, but wish it was a little closer than 7 hrs. Sounds like a great time.

  • Joanna says:

    Love The Wilds!
    Life changing place.
    Thank you for so posting so many recipe ideas.

  • Terri StevenstStevenst says:

    Hi Gretchen. Welcome to my neck of the woods! Just wondering if you brought your groceries from home or if you did your shopping in town. As you can see we don’t have a lot of options so it’s really hard to put together a budget like yours for food. Just was wondering if you had the opportunity to peruse the local Harter House or Country Mart and what your thoughts are on trying to save money there.

    • Yes, we went to Harter House and I was very impressed with their deals!! They were SO much better than the grocery store we usually shop at when we go to Bull Shoals Lake!

  • Lori says:

    I go to Lampe about every year but we stay closer to Silver Dollar Ciry. We were at Table Rock last week also. We did some shopping on the tax free weekend. We went to SDC on Sunday evening and with $5 off coupon from Kum and Go convenience store, we were able to get in for $20 each for the 6 of us! I thought that was s great price for amusement park admission.

  • Julie G says:

    Our family of 50+ meets every year in Canada on a beach property we own on Lake Superior. This year was my husband’s 62nd year! We have one family provide one evening meal for the week, prep, serve and clean up and then they are done for the week! I always shred chicken and freeze it and then add boxed dressing mix and turkey gravy, done up in 3 big pans. Served with a drink, green beans, mixed fruit and Oreos for dessert. I don’t have to be off the beach too long for the prep time and most of the items don’t require refrigeration so it doesn’t take up a lot of space in my RV freezer.

  • Amanda W says:

    Thank you, Crystal, so much for the link to Perfect Potluck and the great group recipes. Since all my children are older and have their own families, I just can’t cook everything for 10 adult kids plus spouses, and a ton (15+) of grandchildren, so we have pot lucks for the holidays and most family get-togethers. It’s usually a big mess for me because I have to organize the menu, whos bringing what, how many, and of course the complaints of why is this sibling only bringing this, and this sibling has to bring that, it’s just crazy!! But now I can’t wait to have our next family gathering and I can’t wait to share those great group recipe ideas. Thank you.

  • Leah says:

    I hope you got Pizza by the Chef in Branson west (the only acceptable answer).

  • Beverly says:

    Just reading the post after your 2020 trip. I have a few easy meal suggestions. Mississippi Pot Roast (can be precooked and frozen if you don’t have multiple crockpots) serve over rice with a green veg and rolls. Leftovers are great on hoagie rolls or even hot dog rolls with shredded mozzarella on top (pop under the broiler for a minute) serve with chips and fruit. Chicken enchiladas are another where it’s easy to cook the meat ahead of time and freeze. When we have a lot of guests at our river home I always have breakfast burritos one morning …. precooke the sausage so all you have to do is scramble the eggs. Serve bar style with the fixings along with fruit and yogurt. Also a yogurt bar is super easy. Hope that gives you some fresh ideas!

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