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Easy Meals for 20+ People | Our Vacation Menu Plan for 28 People

Need some easy meals for 20 people…or maybe just some easy recipes for large groups? Here’s how we fed 28 people on our recently family vacation including the meals we made + how we divvied up the responsibilities.

Be sure to also check out these Recipes for a Crowd of People on Vacation and these Cheap Meals for Large Groups!

Easy Meal Plan for a Crowd of People

Easy Meals for 20+ People

We recently went to Utah with my entire extended family (parents, 3 brothers, 3 sisters, and their spouses and kids). My dad rented a huge cabin for us to stay in and we all pitched in and helped with the food.

I thought it would be fun to 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 20+ people!

large family group

easy meals for 20 people being served

How We Planned and Divvied Things Up

My sister planned the menu with easy meals that would feed a crowd 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 website

(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.

This time around, we also had a sign-up for kitchen clean-up, too, so that my dad wouldn’t spend the entire trip doing dishes. (He’s always working in the kitchen, it seems! He says he loves it, but 28 people make a LOT of dishes!)

easy meals for 20 people: baked oatmeal for a large family

pancakes for breakfast

easy recipes for large groups: pancakes and bacon for breakfast

What We Made for Breakfast

When you’re serving meals for 20+ people, breakfast is the simplest meal (in my opinion)!

Here’s what we served for breakfast:

  • Pancakes, Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, Orange Juice
  • Baked Oatmeal (my sister made the mix of the dry ingredients ahead of time for this), Sausage, Orange Juice
  • Cereal, Fruit, Leftover Pancakes & Eggs

easy meals for 20 people: salad bar

What We Made for Lunch

For lunch, we had a 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.

Having a Build-Your-Own Salad Bar is such an easy meal for 20+ people — and frugal, too! All the ingredients can be stretched a really long way, since you’re only using a little bit of each ingredient on your salad.

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

easy meals for large groups: hot dogs and hamburgers

easy recipes for large groups: preparing vegetables for a big dinner

easy meals for 20 people: hawaiian rolls, chicken, and fruit

easy meals for 20 people waiting to be served dinner

What We Made for Dinner

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

  • Build-Your-Own Haystacks, Homemade Guacamole, Rice
  • Grilled Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Salad, Fruit, Green Beans, Homemade Rolls
  • Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, Tater Tots, Corn on the Cob, Watermelon, Veggie Tray, Steamed Broccoli

budget grocery shopping for large groups

Here’s what our family contributed contributed (I went to Smith’s — a Kroger affiliate — and was able to get all of this for around $50!) + I brought some salad toppings, canned tuna and salmon, and some extra snacks in our luggage.

It’s amazing how it’s not too much work on any one person to feed 20+ people if we all pitch in and help!

What other ideas of easy meals for 20+ people or easy recipes for large groups do you have? I’d love to hear!

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31 Comments

  • Peggy says:

    I would love ideas for desert for that many people. Party coming up! Thank you for sharing!

  • Beth says:

    We recently went to a family reunion/camp out at the old family farm. Close to 50 people. Everyone drove so it was easier for people to bring in premade stuff. I brought canned chicken and BBQ sauce because it didn’t need to be refrigerated before eating. We heated it up and used it for sandwiches. My father in law brought pre-made sausage balls that just had to be warmed up. Then he fixed two dozen scrambled eggs. Other people brought crock pot meals like pork roast to make sandwiches and meatballs. We had a table in the kitchen that was stacked with chips, cookies, and fruit. Melon is good for a crowd. Lots of people brought a veggie casserole or salad that was premade and kept them in the coolers. We ate heavily on those the first day so that they wouldn’t spoil and saved more of the non refrigerated stuff for later. We used disposable table ware. That combined with most of the hot food being one huge pot of something cut down on dishes immensely. I’ve done a baked potato bar for a crowd (50 would be pushing it with one oven, but 30 would be doable). You could do that in addition to a salad bar – some of the toppings would overlap.

  • Kathy says:

    We did something similar this past April on our trip to Kentucky to see the Ark Experience and Creation Museum. We had 3 families(14 people), and rented a large house. Each family was responsible for 1 breakfast and 1 dinner. I made a large (11×14 inch) breakfast casserole with day old French bread, cheese, eggs and seasonings. I pressed in sausage, bacon and spinach in separate rows for variety. For dinner I made a large pan of chicken gravy shepherds pie, a large corn pudding, and a sweet potato casserole. Plenty of food plus leftovers!

  • Christi Walton says:

    We had 20 people for our family reunion this year. Here’s what we did.

    Breakfast: bagels cream cheese, yogurt and hard boiled eggs.
    Pancakes, bacon, and hard boiled eggs and peach sauce for the pancakes (peaches slow cooked on the stove).

    Lunches: lunch meat sandwiches/leftovers
    Dinners
    Pasta with red sauce with green salad and garlic bread
    Grilled burgers and dogs with chips and snacky veggies

    Dessert: I had all natural popsicles I bought for 1.00 a box. We also had watermelon.

    We also went white water rafting so I grabbed snacks on clearance: pretzels, jello.

    I highly recommend watching ahead of time do sales and clearance items. I bought all the meat we ate marked down, as well as all the bacon/pancake mix, jello cups and granola bars which helped significantly.

    • Thanks so much for sharing! Since we were flying, we had to buy most of the food there… but I so agree that buying things on clearance/great discounts and stocking up is the way to go! That’s always what I do when we’re feeding a crowd at our house and it makes it so you can still exercise hospitality on a budget!

  • E L says:

    Oh my gosh, at the first picture I thought, hmmm that looks like the place we stayed at in Utah last year. Then I continued on and yep, totally Timbermoose. Crazy!!! It was an awesome place to stay.

    • Did you have a mice infestation like we did?? 🙂

      • E L says:

        NO! In fact, I was really surprised to see that it happened for you! We had no issues whatsoever with pests. Hope you still managed to have a good time! (how awesome was that enormous kitchen?!?!)

        • I’m so glad you didn’t have any mice! We figured it had to be a recent issue because they were so bad that there’s no way people wouldn’t have left pretty awful reviews if it had been going on for awhile. We thought it was funny and it provided entertainment for us and we had a GREAT time!

  • Siné says:

    We do a trip with my husband’s family each summer. Instead of breaking up each meal into parts we each take one or two meals to provide. My kids look forward to my sister-in-law’s tacos every year. It is an easy way to feed 30+ people. Another favorite that feeds many is a baked potato bar with choice of sweet potato or white potato and a variety of fixings.

    • I love it! Thanks so much for sharing! Since most of my sisters/brothers have young kids, it’s easier for us to break things into small chunks rather than one person being in charge of the entire meal for everyone. But I think that could definitely work as the kids get older!

  • Lisa says:

    Pulled pork, shredded chicken ( make bbq sandwiches or tacos), refried beans, pasta salad, water gate salad, chocolate chip cookie bars, Rice Krispie treats, brownies ( all bars🙂), pasta, salad and bread, chili and chicken and noodles.

  • Maria Perry says:

    My family 20+ shared dinner meals annually for years tent camping. We each did 2 dinners. First night was usually burgers, except the year it poured-and we heated the emergency meal-a number 10 can of chili. It was chilly! Some meals :rice and stir fry veggies and pork,pasta and meatball subs,taco salad over individual taco/Frito chip bags (kids fav),chicken Caesar salad, hotdogs ‘n’ beans, chicken Marsala, beef stew(made ahead)A few years into this we discovered the vacuum sealing bagger, This meant rice,taco meat etc. could be could be cooked ahead. Veggies chopped ahead. Everything packaged this way was leak free in the cooler and bringing the sealer along meant we could reseal the bags and just use some. Vacuumed sealed food takes up much less space.

  • Sandra says:

    This is a great resource and I appreciate all the comments. We are planning a family vacation next year and this will be helpful.

  • Mandi says:

    This is a great post! Some meals I have prepped for a large group- chicken tortellini salad, taco soup, tortilla soup, and taco salad (already mentioned a lot!) Another thing I learned from my sister in law to do for sandwiches at lunch- make them on a french bread loaf. You can keep them pretty simple and people can add condiments on their ow slices. You can make a lot at once- and the french bread is a fun “upgrade!”

  • Megan says:

    I’m wishing my family was this easy. We get together for 2 weeks every summer. There are 30 of us I think, but the real problem is, half are vegetarian or vegan, some are sugar free, gluten free, grain free, organic only, etc . It’s awful trying to accommodate everyone.

    • We have a number of different food allergies, but those who have food allergies eat what they can of what we make and then make their own food, too. We’ve found that having lots of different options and build your own type of stuff works well.

      • Anne says:

        I’m gluten, dairy and egg free and there was still tons of stuff you guys made that I could eat: salads, veggies and fruit, and meat. My daughter also is allergic to peanut and tree nuts. Overall this menu was super allergy friendly. 🙂 I also think it’s smart to have each family contribute to every meal when there are food allergies because then they can plan something that works for their particular restrictions.

  • Ellie says:

    This sounds lovely. Here’s what my family does on vacation – we are almost ALL type As as you will see: at least one person makes a trip to the grocery store each day, usually there are multiple trips. My brother makes breakfast every morning. If you do not plan on eating it and tell him the night before, he will still cook extra for you. My dad plans at least one or two gourmet meals that he has to plate individually with garnishes, allowing him to make only 1 or 2 plates at a time, so we never sit down to eat together on nights he cooks. All the introverts come in from the beach at different times to wash dishes as an excuse to be alone, and I end up eating weird food combinations to use up the leftovers. hahahaha!

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