Cooking for a Crowd: Whole Weekend Menu

Apologies for my crap posting schedule; September was crazy with house moves, family reunions and holidays.

Summary

Location: Away from home.
Equipment at venue: Small fridge, oven, hob, slow cooker.
Numbers: 16 people (10 adults, 6 kids), 5 meals plus soft drinks, £4.21 per adult and £3.16 per child.

Buying presents for my parents is virtually impossible, so for their last couple of birthdays, my siblings and I have sent them away for a surprise weekend, which is about the only time they get to spent quality time alone together (my youngest brother is only 13. He’s counted as an adult in these numbers btw). Invitations |Pattern . Paint . PanThroughout this summer, my mum had been saying how much she’d love to have all her children and grandchildren at their static caravan near Padstow for a weekend. That’d be fine for a normal sized family, but there’s 18 of us, the caravan site is 4 hours away (if you don’t hit traffic) and 2 of my sisters (plus associated 3 kids) don’t drive. Anyway, transport and sleeping arrangements sorted (yay, broken tents, cheers Sinead!), we (I) moved onto food.

The main considerations were ability to pre-cook at home and reheat at the caravan, fridge space at the caravan and cost. The kids aren’t fussy (with the exception of one refusing to eat potato!) so that wasn’t a problem, although my Dad is gluten free (except when it comes to cake!). We ate our own food/snacks in the cars on Friday night and Sunday evening, so we needed meals for Saturday breakfast to Sunday lunch inclusive. There ended up being 16 (10 adults and 6 children) as the older of our brothers had just moved abroad and my sister’s boyfriend had his masters dissertation due the next week.

Menu

Breakfast x 2
Cereal & milk.

Lunch
Day 1: Slow cooked gammon joint.
Day 2: Sausages, hot dog sausages and chicken drumsticks.
Both days: Homemade coleslaw, homemade potato salad, homemade tomato & sweetcorn pasta salad (plus gluten free version), lemon and coriander couscous, vegetable rice, sausage rolls, veggies (lettuce, cucumber, carrot, celery, tomatoes, beetroot), boiled eggs, homemade garlic and herb dip, homemade tomato salsa, crisps.

Dinner
Chilli con carne, baked potatoes, green salad, grated cheese, tortilla chips.

Desserts
Fruit platter: watermelon, grapes, blueberries, peaches, pears.
Traybakes: chocolate brownies, vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream, lemon drizzle cake, rocky road.

Drinks
Apple and orange juice (breakfast), squash, lemonade, milk for hot drinks.

I had intended to prepare almost everything at home, but I realised it would be a bit ambitious with time after some totally unrelated errands took much longer than I anticipated, and looking back, had I prepared everything it wouldn’t have all fitted in the fridge anyway.

I ended up making the chilli con carne, salsa and 4 traybake desserts at home, and the rest at the caravan.

My total food bill came to £61.10, which after some weighting for adult:kid portions, worked out at £4.21 per adult and £3.16 per child for 5 meals and soft drinks.

I shopped for the vast majority at Aldi with some fruit from the local greengrocers and market, and a few items from Asda, and some non food items such as foil traybake trays and plastic containers came from Home Bargains.

We already had tea and coffee, and various paper plates and bowls at the caravan. I used already purchased baking powder, baking soda, sultanas, mini marshmallows, various dried herbs/spices and gluten free pasta. People bought their own alcohol.

Summary

The only real problem arose with the dodgy gas oven when cooking the jacket potatoes on Saturday while we were at the beach, and sausages and chicken on Sunday. There was plenty of food, but without there being loads of leftovers on Sunday when we came to leave. It would have been better for me socially if I’d been able to prepare more in advance, but practically that wouldn’t have worked. Financially, it worked out so much cheaper than eating out (a Cornish pasty at lunch can be £3 each and fish and chips even more) and easier/fairer than sorting out a bring-a-plate-buffet type thing.

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