Our Vacation Menu Plan for 31 People Cheap and Easy Meal Ideas

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As we’ve done for the past 21 years, at the very end of July, we traveled to Bull Shoals Lake near Mountain Home, Arkansas for our annual extended family vacation at the lake with my side of the family.

We all stay in small individual cabins, but then we eat our meals all together and spend a lot of time together in the larger house that my parents stay in.

During the week, we spend a lot of time water-skiing, boating, tubing, swimming, and hanging out. And, of course, we eat a lot of delicious meals.

In order to feed 31 people without it being too much work, we have inexpensive and simple meals that work well for a large group and we all pitch in and help with bringing and making the food.

My sister plans the menu with easy meals that would feed a crowd and sends out a sign-up form using Perfect Potluck (it’s free and so easy to use!). Each family signs up for the main dishes and side dishes they wanted to be in charge of.

Whatever meals or parts of meals you sign up for, you are responsible for bringing the ingredients for and cooking/baking.

Here were the meals we had on this vacation

Be sure to also check out these Recipes for a Crowd of People on Vacation and these Cheap Meals for Large Groups and Easy Meals for 20+ People and Crowd-Pleasing Meals for 25+.

What We Made for Breakfast

  • Pancakes, fruit, bacon, eggs, orange juice
  • Baked Oatmeal, sausage, orange juice
  • French Toast, bacon, scrambled eggs, orange juice
  • Cinnamon Sugar Bagels (bagels toasted with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar), sausage, fried eggs, orange juice

What We Made for Lunch

For lunch, we had a huge Build-Your-Own Salad Bar every day (most of my family loves salads!). We also had bread and meat/cheese and peanut butter/jelly/honey 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 idea for a large group — and frugal, too! All the ingredients can be stretched a long way, since you’re only using a little bit of each ingredient on your salad.

Build-Your-Own Salad Bar Ingredient Ideas: A variety of Greens and Lettuce, Canned Tuna/Salmon, Chopped Cooked Chicken, Boiled Eggs, Raisins, Carrots, Celery, Seeds/Nuts, Feta Cheese, Avocados, Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, Chickpeas, Cherry Tomatoes, Dressings

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:

  • Spaghetti, Green Beans, Garlic Bread, Green Salad, Fruit
  • Grilled Chicken, Steamed Veggies, Mashed Potatoes, Fruit, Homemade Rolls
  • Papa John’s Pizza, Breadsticks, Soda Pop
  • Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, French Fries, Corn on the Cob, Watermelon, Baked Beans, Steamed Peas
  • Build-Your-Own Tacos/Burritos, Rice, Refried Beans, Fruit

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


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