Menu planning for one week at beach house - 9 ppl ages 14 - 80. Ideas?

Curious how everyone organizes their jobs/meals when vacationing with a large group. Kitchen is fully functional, with appliances, etc.

So far, I have a spreadsheet, with breakfast, lunch and dinner. We will dine out 2 nights.

Do you delegate jobs? Share in prep?

All ideas/suggestions welcome.



Leith D. July 26, 2015
I'm doing this now. We are going to a mountain lake house and have 17 family members from all over the country! My sister-in-law and I are dividing up the pre- shopping and cooking. Here's our menu:
First night: Pulled pork sandwiches with BBQ sauce, coleslaw and fries. I've already made the pork and frozen it and made the BBQ sauce. She's making peanut coleslaw and making tater tots or fries. Rolls are purchased.
Day 2: breakfast will be an egg strata she and I will make the night before.
We have lunch meat and chicken salad for lunch along with everything for salad.
Dinner will be BBQ chicken, already marinating and frozen. Served with salad and garlic bread.
Day 3: Cereal, eggs and pancakes for breakfast; out or pizza for dinner.
Day 4: Same breakfast and lunch,
Dinner is a Burger Bar with all the trimmings.
Day 5: Same breakfast and lunch,
Dinner is a Taco Bar!
We are planning on buying some groceries there, but I like to have it thought out, especially with 9 children of various ages.
Whew. Leaving in a few days to cook it all, with a large cooler in the back of the car.
mrslarkin July 26, 2015
Thank you, Keith! Have fun!!
mrslarkin July 28, 2015
I mean, Leith! oops!
Shortrib July 26, 2015
Definitely delegate meals to share the effort and the cost! Everyone in our family cooks and it's great to have a chance to taste one another's new specialties. I'm a big fan of roast chicken on the BBQ, cut up into pieces on a big platter and served with salad, corn, rolls etc. Very little effort and always delicious. (Leftover chicken is obvious for next day sandwiches, burritos etc.) Bring in cakes or pies or cookies from the local bakery. Have fun!
mrslarkin July 26, 2015
Thank you, shortrib!
Emily L. July 25, 2015
what about a shrimp/crab/seafood boil one night? not sure where you will be vacationing but that is as easy as dumping seafood, potatoes, garlic, pearl onions (etc!) in water and adding a pre-made seasoning packet or a mixture of your own spices!
mrslarkin July 26, 2015
Thank you, Emily!
kimhw July 24, 2015
We have a huge family. Typically renting 3-4 houses and 18-25 ppl. Each of the adults/couples are I charge of a meal. Breakfast is just free for all bagels, English muffins, fruits, yogurts and granola and all on hand.
mrslarkin July 26, 2015
Thank you, Kim!
Bevi July 24, 2015
I always do a meat and bean chili. It's cheap and feeds mass quantities of people. Kebobs are fun if you have a big grill. We always buy lots of corn and then repurpose into corn salads and salsas for other meals. Also watermelon - first slices for dessert, then a salad, and finally part of a gazpacho for those who would like a light lunch. A marinated cuke salad also feeds many and lasts in the refrigerator. We also like to buy the local shellfish and make a giant seafood pasta with lots of oil and garlic. For at least one dessert after a home meal we all head to the local ice cream stand. Also, a pizza night, whether homemade or take out, is always a treat, especially on a game or home movie night. Have fun - there's nothing like a family beach vacation!
mrslarkin July 26, 2015
Thank you, Bevi!
cookinginvictoria July 24, 2015
We have done family trips like this too with around ten people. The easiest way to organize is to let different families (or cooks) take a different night for dinner. But if the kitchen is big enough and there are couple of people eager to pitch in, then cooking duties can be shared in a more adhoc way, with each person making a different dish for dinner. (When cooking for a crowd, I actually prefer this second approach because it seems more manageable -- and fun -- to me but it does require a little more organization.)

We do what other posters have suggested -- share the cost of breakfast and lunch foods and have them available for everyone to put together on their own but sit down for dinner each night. I too suggest easy to prepare dinners that will appeal to everyone. I often make rivka's Mujaddara (it works as both an entree for vegetarians and as a side for meat eaters and leftovers at room temp are delicious -- caramelized onions can totally be done in advance). I will often make a triple batch of pasta sauce -- either pesto or Marcella's butter and onion tomato sauce. Burritos or taco night is a good option and can be tailored to meat eaters and vegetarians alike. And I always make some sort of snacking food ahead of time to bring -- cookies, muffins, a slab pie -- this assumes, of course, that you are driving to the beach and not flying. For our last family trip, I made and brought the genius recipe, Brooke Dojny's Blueberry Snacking Cake, which was devoured immediately.

Good luck and have fun! Family trips are the best -- and make for wonderful memories.
mrslarkin July 24, 2015
Thank you, civ! Definitely doing a taco night.
Jana W. July 23, 2015
Have two or three people take a meal and divide it up.
mrslarkin July 24, 2015
Thank you, Jana!
Dona July 23, 2015
My family goes on vacation together every year. We have 9-11 people, only two cooks in the group. I make a triple batch of Aretha Franklins Waffles of Insane greatness every year. One night is always nacho night. We cook chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, that takes care of 2-3 dinners. Lasagne or a baked pasta one night. I cook pulled pork at home and take it frozen. Meals are simple and abundant.
Dona July 23, 2015
Oh I always take brownie mix, the teens can make brownies. And the non cooks handle clean up.
mrslarkin July 24, 2015
Thank you, Dona! I love those waffles. Love the brownie mix idea, too.
drbabs July 23, 2015
I JUST got home from a week at the beach with 18 people (ages newborn-90). We all cook. The first and last nights are the hardest. The first because everyone is tired and you have to shop. The last because you don't want to have to throw out a lot of food.

We kept fixings for breakfast and sandwiches in the house and everyone was kind of on their own. ( I did do some baking--of course--and my mother brought blueberry muffins and chocolate chip cookies that she made at home--they drove so they brought a lot from home.) I also made salad of some sort every night.

For dinners, we took turns, but here's kind of how it went:

Sunday-- roast chicken, rice pilaf, salad, bread. My husband and I did the cooking and prep with help in chopping from one of my sisters, and help in scaling up from my brother who runs restaurants.

Monday--my brother in law made grilled shrimp with pasta. My sister helped and their son made extremely wonderful garlic bread. I made Amanda's Dump It cake for my brother's birthday.

Tuesday-- My nephew (the same one) made hamburgers. We baked frozen french fries, onion rings and tater tots. (Don't judge.) My other sister made guacamole.

Wednesday-- we went out.

Thursday--My brother grilled steak. My mother made stuffed baked potatoes and baked onions. I made Atlantic Beach pie for dessert. (The recipe doubled easily.)

Friday--we did make your own tacos and fajitas. We bought tortillas and salsa. I made black beans and rice and cooked 5 pounds of ground beef. My husband grilled 3 pounds of boneless chicken breasts, which we sliced up for fajitas. I also made the fixings--onions and peppers, grated cheese, cut up tomatoes, shredded lettuce, cut up avocados. And my sister made guacamole again. (She used 7 avocados both times and we devoured it.)

Saturday-- we had a ton of blueberries so I made Merrill's lemon-blueberry cake. (I didn't have a mixer so i just melted the butter and then stirred in the sugar and egg. It was fine. It rises higher her way, but it was devoured in minutes.) Saturday night some of us ate leftovers (I had grilled chicken on salad), and my brother in law picked up pizza for those who were still hungry after munching on leftovers.

I hope this helps. Have a wonderful vacation, and feel free to call/text me if you have any other questions--this was our 9th year of doing this, so we're pretty good at it.
drbabs July 23, 2015
Oh, and for the roast chicken, we bought already cut up chicken, so it was actually chicken parts.
drbabs July 23, 2015
Also…assign or make sure that everyone pitches in to clean up. No leaving dishes in the sink. Empty full dishwashers. Take out the garbage. Set and clear the table. Those little things become big annoyances very quickly. And do some fun things at night or on rainy days! we all play gin so we do a gin tournament. We play poker. We even played Cards Against Humanity (parents and pre-teens not invited). My niece and I usually bake together on the inevitable rainy day, but it didn't rain at all this trip.
mrslarkin July 24, 2015
Thanks Barbara! Excellent ideas.
TheFritschKitchen July 23, 2015
I would stick to a lot of "build your own" type recipes:

Tacos (ground beef, shredded chicken): just need to assemble toppings
Grilled Pizza: make the dough in the morning, prep toppings, people get to top their own how they like it.

When my family and I do our big vacation, every couple gets a day that they are responsible for dinner, that way it doesn't fall on one person. For breakfast and lunch, it's usually a take care of yourself kind of deal. Have ingredients for sandwiches, salads, etc for lunch, yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, etc for breakfast, and make the expectation known. (Pancakes are always a welcome group breakfast though).

Also - SLOW COOKER!!! It's vacation and you're on the beach! You want to be outside enjoying yourself.
mrslarkin July 23, 2015
Love the slow cooker idea!! Thanks!!
Nancy July 23, 2015
Thinking first of menu planning, then task sharing falls into place from the menu decsions.
If this is a family or a group with a history, maybe concentrate on old favorites, made either your traditional way, or reimagined in new ways...the idea is to build on the place and the common experiences.
if this is looser association of people and/or a new situation, I would consider more freedom in the menu planning, more experimentation, more learning - draw on local farms and gardens, or cuisines you like but don't get enough of during the year.
mrslarkin July 23, 2015
Thank you, Nancy!
ChefJune July 23, 2015
When I led my first tour in Burgundy, we stayed in a Chateau with a well-equiipped kitchen but no cook supplied. I had planned to lead the group in cooking four dinners, but since there were three additional cooking teachers on the tour, I invited each of them to also lead a dinner. We had fun shopping in the local markets and deciding on each menu. All this is to say that if you have other cooks in your group, you might enjoy delegating some of the meals to them while you enjoy the beach.
Cristina S. July 23, 2015
I think the longest I've cooked for a crowd at a stretch was four days. I try to prep as much ahead as I can, so that I don't spend too much of the actual vacation in the kitchen. (Chopping vegetables, freezing pies, starting marinades, etc.) If there are other cooks with you, I think it's a good idea to know what each dish will require ahead of time, so that when the time comes to cook, you can delegate easily and without thought/stress for you. I also try to keep breakfast as simple as possible, and mostly let people fend for themselves.

If you pm me your email address, I'd be happy to share some of my past menus, just for the sake of more ideas :)
mrslarkin July 23, 2015
Excellent. Thank you, Cristina!
ChefJune July 23, 2015
Maybe not the type of suggestion you're looking for, Liz, but when I first saw your question I immediately thought "I would make a giant batch of Ratatouille to take along." It keeps forever in the fridge and can be used for every part of a meal except dessert. (Not to mention it's my favorite summer food.)
mrslarkin July 23, 2015
That is a great idea!! Thank you, June.
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