Group Vacation Menu - Help!
I'm organizing my first group vacation this winter and have rented a cabin for 16 for four days. I will have help cooking from the non-skiers but the majority of food planning and prep will fall on me. There are two vegetarians and a few get nervous around seafood.
Trying to decide what to make. Breakfast will be pretty simple and I plan on keeping snacks and sandwich fixings around for lunch with a sort of "you're on your own" theme.
For dinner one night I figure a couple trays of vegetarian lasagna.
What else would work? I'm looking for things that can easily be made in bulk and reheated easily should someone arrive late.
Would it be rude to make a vegetable soup for the vegetarians and serve meat as a main dish?
It will also be New Years so I would like some sort of special meal.
Thanks for any ideas!
We do a vacation every year with a group of people, and everyone has to prepare one dinner. Mexican make your own burritos/ taco salads is popular (refried beans for the non-meat eaters), and so is Frogmore Stew (shrimp, corn on the cob, potatoes, sausage) - something for almost everyone. It's supposed to be all cooked together, but because one person hates shrimp, and another won't eat meat, I combine potatoes and corn, and steam the shrimp and sausage separately.
I don't think it would be rude at all to make a vegetable soup for the vegetarians and serve meat as a main dish. I'm sure they won't expect that every meal will be vegetarian and if you make them a special soup - I'm sure they will be grateful.
I have been on a few ski trips myself with a lot of people eating dinner together at night. And, I'm sorry to say most skiers want some meat. Our favorite is to make a nice meat stew with pearl onions, red wine, carrots and potatoes. If you have slow cookers, that's perfect!
Another easy thing is pasta. Make one really good vegetarian sauce (or cheese sauce) and serve some sausage on the side...
My advice to you is tread carefully! I took charge of food for just a weekend for about 8 people this summer and it was really more work and stress than needed... so-and-so is picky, so-and-so doesn't want to spend a lot, so-and-so wants to buy the food himself and not contribute cash.... etc.
Simple is better and most of the suggestions above offer really good and customizable meals.
For New Years - maybe a special dessert with special champagne/wine instead of a special meal with your various dietary restrictions?
I've done "pot pies" for a crowd using large corning ware containers topped with store bought sheets of puff pastry. The same base can be made for at least different pies-the difference being in the protein added. I have used lobste or chicken or fish or leave out the protein and add extra veggies for a veetarian version. Another thought is make up two pots of chile, add meat to one, corn to the other. Can also be topped with cornbread and baked as a casserole or cornbread served on the side. All the bases and chiles can be cooked ahead of time and frozen-all you need to do is add the crust,
Another favourite crowd pleaser is baked pasta with mushrooms, realy hearty and delicious.
chili is good and easy to add some tvp/tofu/seitan to one pot and ground meat to another.
frittatas, quiches (mini or regular sized), stratas
taco bars... meat, chicken, veggie mix, lettuce, salsa, cheese, sour cream, etc.
baked potato bar
enchiladas are easy to fill and bake separately.
breakfast for dinner... waffles, scrambled eggs (whites), granola pancakes, etc.
chinese fare... spring rolls, dumplings (veggie or meat), fried rice (add chicken or pork to some), ma po tofu, beef 'n' broccoli, kung pao chicken/shrimp, garlic eggplant
for new years, how about little bites on parade... stuffed mushrooms, crostini w/ tapenade, prosciutto wrapped melon, caramelized stuffed figs, salmon rollups, teppenyaki, etc.
I did the same thing on a trip to Whistler a few years ago with 17 people! We had a couple of vegetarians, some food allergies and the like. Some of the menu items used were:
Build your own tacos
Lasagna (I did store bought so no one had to work too hard)
Pasta (marinara and alfredo sauce separate for a little choice)
Pizza (this is also GREAT for lunches, late night snacks, leftovers)
We stocked up on cereal, fruit, muffins, etc for breakfasts and had plenty of sandwich supplies (don't forget the PB&J as these are the easiest sandwiches to tote on the mountain and are veggie friendly!). In addition, I had plenty of salad, garlic bread, chips & dip, etc to go with the meals.
Most importantly though, we were very casual about the whole thing. Everyone knew when mealtime was and what it would be - we posted a little menu on the fridge - so they could choose to stay in or go out. We also made sure we stocked up on plenty of beer and wine as well as mixers and let people bring their own spirits if they had a favorite.
I did all of the shopping online and we had the food waiting for us when we arrived. If you are able to get food delivered either shortly after arrival or before you get to your destination I strongly suggest doing so! It would have taken away from the vacation if I would have had to spend the first few hours at the grocery store.
For our 4 days of food we spent around $1000 which was approx $600 food and $400 alcohol, so only about $15 per person, per day for a great time and three easy meals included. It really made it a fun, inexpensive trip with plenty of bonding time for the group!
One other thing to keep in mind is planning ahead which days to make what. I like to keep the simplest two meals for the first night and the last night, This is so you don't have a ton of prep work when you first reach your destination and to avoid a lot of dishes on the last evening.