HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Camping meal ideas for large group needed.

We are having a " taste of ... " dinner event where each group serves up an entree/side dish to
the other groups ( 90 + adults/kids ). I am looking for some new ideas that not only are fairly easy to prepare but great tasting. Things like chili/beef stew with cornbread and tri tip are already being represented. In the past, we've the usual camping fare such as burgers, carne asada, korean BBQ, hot dogs and sausages, etc Any suggestions ? TIA !

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Are you actually cooking outside?

    Cooking outside at "camp" (camp meaning cabin in my area) is the main summer activitiy and some of the things regularly on the menu:

    BBQ chicken halves, the standard BBQ basting sauce is a vinegar based, thin liquid. I could give you a recipe

    Ribs, which can be started in the oven and finished on the fire

    Corn on the cob, in the husk

    3 Replies
    1. re: cleobeach

      Yes, we'll be cooking outside mainly with BBQ pits, portable burners, grills, etc

      Thanks for the tips ! Grilled corn is one of my favorites and would be a good choice here.
      Ribs would be great but with 90 + dads and sons, cost might be a bit prohibitive. I would
      appreciate your basting sauce recipe. Chicken is an option we are considering as well as maybe flank steak with chimichurri. Thanks again !

      1. re: vonger44

        Flank steak! How could I have forget about that! I love flank steak and that would be easy to slice up to stretch around to many people.

        This is the basic recipe used in my family, increased as many times as needed for a crowd. We happen to have a dedicated (clean) pump sprayer that is used to spray down the halves. You could also just use legs and thighs.

        one and one half cups of oil or melted oleo
        two and one quarter cups of vinegar
        three quarters of a cup of water
        5 tablespoons salt
        one half of a cup of sugar
        3 tablespoons of worchestershire sauce
        3 tablespoons of tabasco

        The notes on my grandmother's recipe card say this is for 24 halves but I always double it.

    2. what about pork tenderloin. costco has a reasonable prlce. take the juice of six limes, the zest of a lime, a couple of jalapenos diced, marinate for an hour then grill. slice and serve with
      grilled new potatoes that have been sliced and grilled.

      1. Another thing I just thought of is grilled bread. We brush slices with olive oil and season with Crazy Salt (or whatever blend is on hand) and grill over the fire. I serve this as a side dish or an appetizer, topped with hot peppers that I warm with oil in a foil pack on the grill

        1 Reply
        1. re: cleobeach

          I will be adding both the pork and grilled break ideas to my camp recipes to try ! Thanks !

        2. PIG ROAST!
          Crab/crawfish boil

          Aside from steaks, burgers and hot dogs, these three come to mind when I think of big groups eating outside-heck lobster was 1/3 the price of regular choice beef last summer.

          2 Replies
          1. re: AdamD

            now a pig roast would take the prize for sure !
            I will be definitely trying the crawfish boi/clam bakes in the future for friends and family.
            We can probably get some great deals on seafood and a few of the local Asian markets but not sure if I can pull it off for such a large group on limited cooking time and budget.
            Thanks !

            1. re: AdamD

              Can 90 people eat from one pig?

            2. When we camped in Canada we'd dig for pisser clams and pry mussels of the rocks and roast most of them. You could also do roasted bone marrow. I 2nd the pig roast, too.

              2 Replies
              1. re: David11238

                i can only dream of doing of digging and roasting clams/mussels here in southern CA,
                bone marrow is one of my personal faves, i would prob have to hire a crew to roast pig at this time but def on my list of things to do...

                1. re: vonger44

                  Ah okay, I wasn't sure where you lived. Is clamming rare in Southern Cal? What about the fish that beach themselves after mating? I hear they can taste pretty good. If it's a camping style event why not do a take on oatmeal/granola bars? As an entree and/or dessert. Oatmeal is certainly inexpensive and easy to cook and form.

              2. vonger44: An alder planked salmon fillet is always a crowd-pleaser, as are Kippered Oysters Rockefeller.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kaleokahu

                  i enjoy a variety of planked fish with different kinds of glazes and marinades but
                  cooking for a large group of dads and boys this time, not sure if they will appreciate it or if the food will be friendly enough.. thanks !

                2. Something along the line of fajitas or burritos works well. I've done it in large scout groups.

                  It could be steak/chicken fajitas -- with marinated steak or chicken breasts grilled and served in tortillas with grilled peppers and onions (salsa and other fixings on the side).

                  Or more traditional tacos (soft works best) with large dutch ovens of seasoned ground beef to be served into tortillas.

                  This gives you leeway to offer the condiments/additions you wish (cheese, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, etc.) and you can add sides (nacho chips, mexican rice, refried or pinto beans).

                  Tortillas heat up well on the grill individually or wrapped in foil in packets (for a group).

                  Serving 90+ you have to keep in mind the costs of the quantities and how to manage a lot of servings at once.

                  Best of luck!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: eamcd

                    I was thinking of a taco station but like your idea of using a dutch oven...will give me a chance
                    to use one I recently purchased, thanks for all your great tips !

                    1. re: vonger44

                      I don't know how you're planning on servings. I guess you don't need 90+ servings if multiple groups are all serving entrees. But you might need a couple dutch ovens to even do "tastings" for 90+ people.

                      You can get the smaller size tortillas too.

                      Or serve the ground beef mixture over a small paper plate full of nacho chips! A nacho station for people to fix their own would work well and might be easier to "scale down" to tasting portions than whole tacos.

                      Just break in your dutch oven first to get some seasoning on it, if you can!

                      1. re: eamcd

                        you're exactly right, more tasting then full entrees.
                        nacho station is another excellent idea and will do
                        on breaking in the dutch oven ! Thanks again !

                    2. re: eamcd

                      I think you're on the right track. A ;modest amount of meat will feed a ton of people when you have rice and beans and tortillas. Etc

                    3. probably not what you're looking for but first thing that came to mind when you said camping.
                      Boil in a bag omlets. We always make these over a small burner when camping or fishing. Super easy, not much clean up. We even eat them out of the bags. Customize to individual tastes.


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: cb1

                        great idea for the future ! thanks !

                      2. i love anything wrapped in bacon on the grill....ABT s would be great and very wallet friendly. I also like shrimp wrapped in bacon.
                        pulled pork is always a fan fave.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: LaLa

                          i concur, bacon is king in my book, I think just plain bacon would
                          make the kids happy, while shrimp/anything wrapped with bacon just screams for some cool suds ! PP is another great option to consider as I was thinking of having some kind of slider station, thanks !

                          1. re: vonger44

                            I make chicken wrapped in bacon ( think chicken nugget size w/ the thin bacon wrapped around and a toothpick to hold it all together ). These can be prepped prior and always get rave reviews.

                            1. re: vonger44

                              Shrimp for 90? Not in MY budget.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Its a taster menu....a couple of shrimp a person isnt a budget buster...of course I am on the coast.

                          2. Shish kebab is always a great campfire meal. I'm also a fan of epicurious's Southwestern Lime Chicken. A long marinade being the key to great flavor. And if you're looking for a great side, grilled pineapple spears cooked over a charcoal grill make me very, very happy.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: greenish

                              another great idea, we thought of kebabs but the thought of 50 + kids running around with skewers in the dark scares me, lol but I will be trying this myself, thanks !

                            2. This would be unusual and attention grabbing. A couple of large halibut or Salmon filets cooked vertically in a solar oven.

                              I saw it done years ago at a Boy Scout jamboree. It was memorable. I still remember it.

                              There are numerous websites that show how to build one. Several youtube videos on it or you can actually purchase one at a camping supply.

                              A link to a cheap one and an expensive one. http://www.amazon.com/Solar-Oven-Cook...


                              Bring heat lamps in case the sun isn't cooperative. I, also, think a dry run would be appropriate.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                what a cool idea ! we'll be in the desert next month so this would be fun to try !
                                Thanks !

                              2. I am a Boy Scout and Girl Scout food camp camp veteran. Are you really cooking 90+ entrees? I don't think you are....sounds like it's going to be more of a potluck. You were intrigued with a Dutch oven recipe - I usually use 2 large Dutch ovens to feed about 20 Scouts and Dads or Moms. Flank steak would be really expensive, but you can make pot roast in a Dutch oven fairly inexpensively. Dutch oven cookery takes some learning to do but it is fun and fantastic. This is a great cookbook: http://www.amazon.com/Scouts-Outdoor-.... My scouts have made tons of recipes out of this book and it is great. A great thing to make in a Dutch oven is a pineapple upside down cake...and I just saw a recipe in this months Scouting magazine (the Boy Scout magazine for adult volunteers) that I can't wait to try http://www.scoutingmagazine.org/issue...

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: momskitchen

                                  its more like 90 + tastings ( 8 smaller groups of 10-20, each preparing a entree + side to share )
                                  but it's amazing how much more hungry boys get in the wild...
                                  thanks for the great advice and the book rec ! i was planning on practicing cooking with the dutch oven this weekend in case I use it for the trip. we just starting cub scouts this year so nice to hear from a scamp veteran ! thanks !

                                  1. re: vonger44

                                    For the dutch ovoen, make sure to get a charcoal chimney and count your coals. Here's what you need to know about it...another great article from Scocunting Magazine:


                                2. This may not be appropriate for such a large crowd, but don't forget about pie irons. Here's a link to some different shapes and sizes.


                                  Just about anything can be cooked in them, from savory to sweet, using bread or tortillas. They seem substantial enough that, cut in half, they might feed two per. The waffle iron caught my eye. What about PA Dutch style chicken and waffles? Stretch the chicken out with lots of vegetables and gravy in your Dutch oven and serve over pie iron waffles, plain or maybe herbed up with chives or thyme or something. I'd suggest corn waffles, but you said cornbread is already spoken for.

                                  I don't know if raw pizza dough would work, but if it did, you could make calzone or campfire hot pockets.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: nemo

                                    what a fun way to cook with kids ! something I can only learn about on CH !
                                    Thanks !

                                  2. If you could do pig pickin (roast, whatever you call it). it would feed a lot of people for a very reasonable amount. If you can't get the whole hog, I suggest pork shoulders, which you could roast for pulled pork (serve with small dinner rolls to make sandwiches) or something like a cuban seasoned roast, which would be great served with a pan of seasoned beans (pinto, black) some tortillas and some salsa.

                                    Pork shoulder is a cheaper but very flavorful (my choice over loin) cut of meat. Loin, tenderloin, ribs, seafood is going to be expensive for that crowd even if you are doing tastings. Now, if you can find a wholesale source (supplier) then cost may be reasonable. Other things you might consider is brisket, chicken leg/thigh quarters (don't know the prices where you are but here this week the 10 lb. bag was .59 cents a pound; nice to use as grilled or even pulled chicken sandwiches), whole turkeys which I use to make pulled turkey bbq on the grill (I can give you a recipe, if interested) or why not a roasted potato bar? You can do these up on the grill or wrap & insert directly in the coals. Serve with assorted toppings.

                                    I second nemo's suggestion for pizza...very cheap to make dough from scratch. You could make it up and freeze then stretch it out the dough & grill all of them a few minutes on one side prior to meal. Then you go back later and top the grilled side & return to grill for a few minutes for the second side. You could use anything to make toppings. I use all kinds of veggies, bits & pieces of other things. Great way to make use of inexpensive toppings.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Cherylptw

                                      I hope to do a pig roast in the next few years after getting more " camp cooking " experience,
                                      I would love your pulled turkey bbq, thanks ! I grill a lot of pizzas at home but will be cooking dutch oven pizza for my first practice meal ! Thanks for the great tips !

                                    2. The only other thing I can think of is spiral sliced ham. A couple of them. You might be able to get creative with the glazes. Maybe 1 spicy and 1 sweet. Possibly serve with biscuits or rolls, the store bought kind.

                                      As a side dish, you could bake a bunch of potatoes in foil, bury them in the coals.

                                      Along those same lines Sweet onions in foil with butter. Here is the recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pa...

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                                        Another great option to try ! Thanks !

                                        1. re: vonger44

                                          Thanks everyone for all your swell ideas ! We ended up making ribs (par baked then finished on the grill) , grilled corn, and baked beans for our small group. For the big group, we decided to do grilled bbq chicken (par baked and finished on the grill) and a huge pot of corn chowder ! I think our group had the best eats last weekend ! Thanks again and I look forward to trying out some of these recipes in the future !