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Need easy and inexpensive meal ideas for feeding 18+ people for five days

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My family is coming here for a wedding! Hip hip hooray!!!!! So we've got a handful of adults and a whole slew of kids. My SIL says to keep it simple (if we ate hot dogs all weekend, I'm sure they'd still be happy).


So tell me:

breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas


Quick, easy, cheap.


Thanks! :)

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We did this several years ago :-)


Eggs and tortillas --get a big package of shredded cheese.

Breakfast tacos! don't forget the salsa. Of course, I noticed tortillas are a lot cheaper down here in TX than they were in NY, lol.


paper plates and extra dollar store cups are a godsend. get permanent markers to label names on cups.


Chicken: get a lot of chicken, dice it up. We did chicken fajitas, diced chicken tossed in pasta/rice, and chicken salad sandwiches.


Tuna-- tuna salad and tuna pasta.


lasagna --a couple trays of lasagna is pretty cheap for 20 people.


pancakes/ waffles/ homemade muffins


bananas and apples. At least bananas :-)


oatmeal --jazzed up w/ cinnamon or other yummy flavors.



mac and cheese



and yes --hot dogs! you can wrap dogs in crescent roll dough or cut them up and toss in beanie weenie.


make up a menu to see how much you need.


that's all i remember for now-- there's probably a website detailing cheap meals for lotsa people now that i think of it, lol.


good luck!

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Our favorites dinners for large groups (which is whenever the whole family gets together!) - spaghetti or baked beans and ham.


I would keep breakfast simple - cereal and fruit

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Chili! I'm a huge fan of thick and creamy stews and such. You could make up lots of soups and then freeze them. Pop the frozen soup into the crockpot that morning and have soup for lunch. French bread from the deli to go with it.


Could you bake a turkey and have a mini Thanksgiving dinner? Bake two and have lots of leftovers for turkey sandwiches!


We get a box of burgers, which sounds disgusting, but they are cheaper than just buying the beef and they are already formed into patties. Grill those and some hot dogs and mix up some potato salad. I've got a GREAT recipe. Oooh - bake some baked beans in the oven to go with it!

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That's a lotta people to cook for!


A great website is Dayle's Growlies for Groups, and here's the link for their recipes for 50. There's a recipe converter on the page.


Also, Ellen's Kitchen has a ton of recipes and serving ideas. Here's her Big Pots web page.


Peek has a ton of great ideas above. The only things I might add are to have breakfasts be "serve yourself". Get a lot of cheap boxed cereal at Aldi or Sam's Club. Buy premade pancakes at Walmart (they are not very expensive, and easy to just pop in the microwave.)


For lunch, I'd keep it super simple and again, do-it-yourself. Sandwiches, mac & cheese, homemade soup are all easy things.


For dinners, to add to Peek's list above, you might consider making sloppy joes, taco salad, and spaghetti. Buy 6 large loaves of french bread at Walmart and have a "build your own sub sandwich" night. Most of this you can make ahead a day or so, if that helps. Borrow large electric roasters to make serving easy.


'Hope these tips help. Enjoy your family!

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Baked potato bar always goes over well, as does nachos. When I do nachos I get big cans of nacho cheese and refried beans from Costco or Smart & Final, make the taco meat, and then pretty much just buy any of the following that you might feel up to: green onions, shredded cheese, jalapeno slices, olives, sour cream, chopped tomatoes...This meal works really well for lunch or dinner.

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10 adults and 12 children! This is what she makes:


Spaghetti (sauce made and frozen in advance), salad, and bread.


Chili (made in advance and frozen)


Grilled hamburgers & hot dogs (on the summer visit)


Taco soup



Lunch is mostly leftovers. Breakfast is mostly cereal, bagels, and English muffins with juice and coffee.



Editing to add that taco salads made with beans instead of meat could be an easy option, if you cut vegetables in advance. I use a recipe based on one from Set for Life that begins layering with brown rice (I use broth and cummin in the rice steamer), then lettuce & veggies, beans, corn (which I wouldn't have considered, but it's very good!), cheese, crumbled chips on top, salsa and sour cream. (They call it Taco Sundae with the chips being the topping instead of the base.)

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Cheesy crockpot chicken:


1 can cheddar cheese soup

2 cans cream of chicken soup

As much boneless, skinless chicken breast as you can squeeze in the crock

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Cook on low 8-10 hours, shred and serve over rice or noodles.

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I would cook all the ground beef, chicken etc. ahead and put in the freezer.


You could also cook breakfast items ahead and freeze--like pancakes, muffins etc.


Homemade chili with dried beans is cheap.

The potato bar is a good idea.


Have fun and enjoy the togetherness. The more you do ahead the less stressful it will be!

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There were around 20 people in my house for 5 days, for a wedding. A couple of suggestions:


Keep a "station" on your kitchen counter with paper plates, napkins, plastic forks, cups, etc. Keep a permanent marker near the cups for kids/teens to write their names on, so only one cup per person per day is used. This will save you about a thousand cups!


Make meals in large quantities ahead of time and freeze. My guests were all Pakistani (dh's relatives) so I made a lot of curry-type stuff, but you could do soups, stews, chili, pasta sauces, pizza crusts, etc.


For breakfast we just kept a variety of cereals, breads, and butter/cream cheese/jelly as well as tea/coffee.

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