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vonfirmath

When did people stop knowing how to bring food for a potluck

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We typically have a potluck for our first ceremony of the year.

 

I'm about to say FORGET it. In the future we'll have a desserts bar.  I sent out a potluck sign up with an explicit request in the instructions to sign up for enough food to feed your family and guests. The first sign up? All the cups, plates, silverware.

Almost everyone is signing up for one item -- a dozen rolls. a dessert, etc. A couple gallons of drink.

 

The main dish and sides -- the things that actually fill people up? Going empty.

Edited by vonfirmath

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Ah, this is how it is.  It was easier to mandate different groups each time to sign up in different categories. 

I can say I get nervous bringing a side or anything that isn't prepackaged now.  So many people have food intolerances and allergies that I'd hate to hurt someone by cross contaminating in my kitchen or having an ingredient seem hidden in the dish.  I default back to something I can pick up pre-made at the grocery store so it's well known or has an ingredient list on it.

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A lot of the potlucks I go to now include the main course and ask for side dishes.  For instance, Oktoberfest has the brats included and guests brought veggies and desserts.

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Preach it! 

We just had a potluck this summer, out of the 20+ families we had 3 main dishes, the rest were mostly desserts and random snacks/junkfood. I'm thinking the next time we do a potluck we'll do it how we did for Scouts- a list published and everyone can sign up for something on the list, first to sign up get first pick. 

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8 minutes ago, soror said:

Preach it! 

We just had a potluck this summer, out of the 20+ families we had 3 main dishes, the rest were mostly desserts and random snacks/junkfood. I'm thinking the next time we do a potluck we'll do it how we did for Scouts- a list published and everyone can sign up for something on the list, first to sign up get first pick. 

 

This is how this potluck is being run. But I still am afraid its going to be a problem!  I guess the food that shows up is all we have. If the group can't be bothered to bring enough food to feed everyone...

I'm going to make sure we have servers though so the food that is brought spreads to the people there.

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I remember one potluck we had for hs group and my friend was the only one that brought a main dish, the rest brought a few random snacks. Thankfully, she had made a GIANT taco salad that was enough to feed everyone. 

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Well, it is a potLUCK.  I think that this is a sign of how overscheduled people are.  Making a main entree with enough for others takes time and preparation.  People are signing up for things that don't take time or too much prep because they don't have the time to do it. 

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Sounds like it's time to switch it to a different type of eating format:

- "BYOMD (Bring Your Own Main Dish) for you, PLUS a side to share"
- or, schedule your event at a NON-meal time, and let everyone sign up to bring plates/napkins, drinks, and snacks for off-hour noshing
- or, in advance, collect $15 from each family and order a stack of pizzas to be delivered
- or, make it a NO FOOD event

Edited by Lori D.
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When I ran a teen social night for our homeschool group, I refused to do potluck, lol. It wasn't fair because you always had one group of people that consistently spent money on actual food and the other group of people who consistently brought a bag of chips. Then you had the problem of people not bringing what they signed up for or just not showing up. Sometimes they missed for good reason, but it still messed up the plan. I changed it to $5 per person (later $7) and I handled all the food. They got unlimited food, snacks, and drinks for their money. Of course, the bag o' chips people complained long and hard, lol, yet did not have any desire to open their house for the event, make sure food was in order, clean up afterwards, etc. 

My kids better put me in the good nursing home. 

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I've never been to a potluck or anything called a potluck.  I've participated in a number events where I needed to bring a food items to feed a large number of people, but there has always been a specific sign up where you can see what's needed and what everyone chooses.  I've also been to less specific events where everyone brings an app to share for example.  Relying on luck sounds like a bad idea.

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10 minutes ago, Library Momma said:

I've never been to a potluck or anything called a potluck.  I've participated in a number events where I needed to bring a food items to feed a large number of people, but there has always been a specific sign up where you can see what's needed and what everyone chooses.  

We would call that a potluck around here even though there's a sign up. 

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Ime, potluck is bring something and what we end up with is what we end up with.  Ime, people are good at this.

It sounds like you have a communal meal with a sign up sheet?  Definitely be specific and leave off the "easy" things.  Let the people doing the planning bring the "easy" stuff.

I like the ideas above to charge per person and bring in food or not have dinner.

Hope it ends up working out!

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We do this every Sunday and I’m our team’s lead.  I have a list that works pretty well and it has room for people who cook and people who buy from the deli.  We have it worked out through practice.  Our team if 8 families feeds 125 people 

but here’s my backup secret:  when we haven’t been able to bring enough food, I put out smaller plates.  It works like a charm.  
 

the other thing I remember On a short day is that people will live to eat again.  The food isn’t the point. It gives us a way to gather but no one needs to eat like it’s their  last meal.  
 

Re: allergies, preferences and so on—we always have a pot of rice and a large green salad with dressing on the side and things like nuts and cheese on the side.  That takes care of about 15 different people without additional worry.  

I hope this helps.  

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2 minutes ago, happi duck said:

Ime, potluck is bring something and what we end up with is what we end up with.  Ime, people are good at this.

It sounds like you have a communal meal with a sign up sheet?  Definitely be specific and leave off the "easy" things.  Let the people doing the planning bring the "easy" stuff.

I like the ideas above to charge per person and bring in food or not have dinner.

Hope it ends up working out!

 

I wanted to have the organization pick up the easier things. I was overruled. But I was hopig I was being too pessimistic.

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17 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

Sounds like it's time to switch it to a different type of eating format:

- "BYOMD (Bring Your Own Main Dish) for you, PLUS a side to share"
- or, schedule your event at a NON-meal time, and let everyone sign up to bring plates/napkins, drinks, and snacks for off-hour noshing
- or, in advance, collect $15 from each family and order a stack of pizzas to be delivered
- or, make it a NO FOOD event

What I've done sometimes is just have people bring their own lunch, that just works if it is a hs event that is around lunch time. Or I bring a small dish to share and my own family meal. We have also just done snacks for some evening events. People want to have a potluck (they are big where I live) but they don't want to mess with bringing anything. there is a fellowship aspect that you get with potlucks that are nice but I find potluck to be a stress as a planner. In our group it is always the most busy people that bring the most and the least busy that bring bring little if anything. I'd surely not want to charge for a maindish, the chances of make anyone happy with that is about 0%, it is too much (no matter the cost) or they don't like it.

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28 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

Sounds like it's time to switch it to a different type of eating format:

- "BYOMD (Bring Your Own Main Dish) for you, PLUS a side to share"
- or, schedule your event at a NON-meal time, and let everyone sign up to bring plates/napkins, drinks, and snacks for off-hour noshing
- or, in advance, collect $15 from each family and order a stack of pizzas to be delivered
- or, make it a NO FOOD event

 

Our ceremony is at the same time our meetings usually are -- and we don't normally have a meal for regular meetings. Some units have snacks.

So one idea is to have a regular meeting -- just shortened. And then the cermeony at the end with whatever deserts people want to bring to share.  Or maybe no food at all and prevent all the setup and clean up as well!

Edited by vonfirmath
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2 minutes ago, vonfirmath said:

 

I wanted to have the organization pick up the easier things. I was overruled. But I was hopig I was being too pessimistic.

Bummer, you were right!

I don't think it's pessimistic though.  Just realistic that people are overwhelmed and will gratefully take the option that feels less overwhelming.  "Whew! I can sign up to bring paper plates!"

 

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24 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

Well, it is a potLUCK.  I think that this is a sign of how overscheduled people are.  Making a main entree with enough for others takes time and preparation.  People are signing up for things that don't take time or too much prep because they don't have the time to do it. 

I think this is the problem.  I have noticed our covered dish gatherings have really changed.  In the old days, there was sort of a method....older ones would bring a main dish for a lot of people....meatloaf, casseroles, A roast, a ham.....something like that...younger married ones would bring a nice side for a lot of people....like a 9 X 12 pan of corn casserole, or rice casserole, or mashed potatoes, or green beans, or baked beans....Who ever made really good pies would make 2 each.  And then for young single adults we expected or maybe even asked them to bring things like ice, or paper products.  It seemed fairly painless. 

But now.....like the other day my mom asked me to bring baked beans (which I made from scratch), and another young wife to bring potato salad....that young wife asked if she could bring store bought....to which my mom said yes, but complained to me how no one cooks anymore. And then that couple ended up not coming and my mom had to scramble and ask my adult son to bring store bought potato salad.  And every gathering seems like this.  If I ask a young couple to bring a dessert.....we get cupcakes from Wal-Mart.  Things really have changed.  I try to not worry about it and just focus on the relationships which are valuable and important to me.....but things are definitely different.

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6 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

I think this is the problem.  I have noticed our covered dish gatherings have really changed.  In the old days, there was sort of a method....older ones would bring a main dish for a lot of people....meatloaf, casseroles, A roast, a ham.....something like that...younger married ones would bring a nice side for a lot of people....like a 9 X 12 pan of corn casserole, or rice casserole, or mashed potatoes, or green beans, or baked beans....Who ever made really good pies would make 2 each.  And then for young single adults we expected or maybe even asked them to bring things like ice, or paper products.  It seemed fairly painless. 

But now.....like the other day my mom asked me to bring baked beans (which I made from scratch), and another young wife to bring potato salad....that young wife asked if she could bring store bought....to which my mom said yes, but complained to me how no one cooks anymore. And then that couple ended up not coming and my mom had to scramble and ask my adult son to bring store bought potato salad.  And every gathering seems like this.  If I ask a young couple to bring a dessert.....we get cupcakes from Wal-Mart.  Things really have changed.  I try to not worry about it and just focus on the relationships which are valuable and important to me.....but things are definitely different.

I don't care about the store bought vs. homemade but it is just a general lack of anything of subsistence, used to be just a few did that but when the overwhelming majority due, it is not a potluck meal but potluck snacks, which don't work well if it is a long event where people will need to eat.

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I think, also, that main dishes are often costlier to prepare. I can make a pan of brownies for a few dollars but a crockpot of Mac and cheese is going to be more. 

Our church does occasional potlucks, and they assign main dish/sides/desserts by last name. (A-F bring main dishes...) Our college students were asked to bring drinks last time -- we ended up with 1 lemonade and 2 Dr.Peppers for about 50 people, 😂 

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People are showing you what they're willing and able to do. Go with that.

I consider food events a nuisance because we have to eat before we go and/or keep other people from cross-contaminating what I brought or eating it all before DS gets any [read: he's an anxious mess...], so I'm team lemonade-together-but-not-meals. But we can bring our own mess kits & not need paper plates, cups, napkins, or utensils. If people charge per head and serve pizza, we'll simply stay home. And if it's a weeknight, DH might not make it in any case.

Also never attended a potluck until at least my 20s.

Edited by whitehawk
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I think that's the "luck" in potluck. In some groups, the bar is traditionally high that enough people bring yummy, filling food and make up for the people who have a rough day and could only grab a bag of chips. I have been on both sides of the equation.

We never do signup sheets in any of the groups. We distinguish between "snackluck" (park outing, everybody brings snacks to share) and "communal dinner/lunch" where more substantial contributions are expected at least from some.

Edited by regentrude
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We are finding we need to have someone say something to those who are not contributing fair share and have the means to do so.  Basically either the group splits the cost of the main dish or everyone brings enough for main dish their family plus 1. The plus 1 covers invited guests.  With youth group, its been good, as families weren't aware of resources that could help them out so it has improved their overall nutrition to be aware of main dishes that are economical.   With things I"m invited to, the host no longer provides the main dish, so I'll bring something like chicken enchiladas so I can avoid the simple processed carbs that most bring.

Edited by HeighHo

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49 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

But now.....like the other day my mom asked me to bring baked beans (which I made from scratch), and another young wife to bring potato salad....that young wife asked if she could bring store bought....to which my mom said yes, but complained to me how no one cooks anymore. And then that couple ended up not coming and my mom had to scramble and ask my adult son to bring store bought potato salad.  And every gathering seems like this.  If I ask a young couple to bring a dessert.....we get cupcakes from Wal-Mart.  Things really have changed.  I try to not worry about it and just focus on the relationships which are valuable and important to me.....but things are definitely different.

And that expectation kills the joy. If people know they are being judged for not making food from scratch, that is unnecessary pressure on people, mostly the women, who may work full time and have kids and whatever other obligations, and who may find it difficult to even find the time to attend. They may be perfectly capable of cooking or baking, but may find their time is too costly to spend it on baking from scratch for a bunch of judgy strangers.

If I want to make sure all food is from scratch, I cook it myself. If this is about community, we should give each other grace.

I never forget how liberating it felt for the first time to take a (gasp!) store bought cake to some stupid school function and finally shed the inner voice that told me this wasn't good enough. I can bake. That doesn't mean I need to "should on myself".

 

ETA: Why, please, is the wife asked to bring the salad? Why not the husband? Why are married people expected to cook, but not single persons? how does being married enhance your cooking skills?

Edited by regentrude
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I hosted our adult church Sunday school group last month. I passed around a sign up sheet with the categories of side dishes or dessert, and people just put their names, not what they would bring. I made a few things myself, just so that we would be sure to have a full selection of items, and things still went wrong. I made mac 'n cheese, and someone else brought some, as well. I just left my batch in the oven and didn't bring it out. Out of the three people who agreed to bring desserts, two told me that they weren't coming after all, on the day of the event, so I scrambled to put a cobbler in the oven (I had some frozen blackberries). Everyone enjoyed the food, but it was stressful for me.

The next time, I will either make it a snacks and desserts only event, so that it won't matter if major food groups are not represented, or I will ask people to list exactly what they are bringing.

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59 minutes ago, Patty Joanna said:

I have a list that works pretty well

What were the categories? 

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If it at normal meeting time then I would assume that many parents are coming from work with possibly a stop home to pick up kids. Preparing a main dish means trying to figure out when to cook it, how to get it to the potluck and how to keep it warm. Not impossible but a bit of a pain especially when you are trying to get kids to the meeting itself on what I assume is a school night. 

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1 hour ago, vonfirmath said:

. The first sign up? All the cups, plates, silverware.

Almost everyone is signing up for one item -- a dozen rolls. a dessert, etc. A couple gallons of drink.

 

My kids German school ask for family contributions for snack time to keep tuition cost low. We do the drinks and are happy to supply cups, plates, cutlery. We live the furthest from the school so perishable foods are kind of tricky and my kitchen is definitely too contaminated for baking or cooking. So for food contributions for annual parties we bring store bought items which are obviously labeled and non-perishable. 

For drinks we have bought Martinelli sparking juice, Treetop Apple juice, Caprisun packs and mineral bottles of water. Some moms were unhappy with the sugar content. 

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5 minutes ago, regentrude said:

And that expectation kills the joy. If people know they are being judged for not making food from scratch, that is unnecessary pressure on people, mostly the women, who may work full time and have kids and whatever other obligations, and who may find it difficult to even find the time to attend. They may be perfectly capable of cooking or baking, but may find their time is too costly to spend it on baking from scratch for a bunch of judgy strangers.

If I want to make sure all food is from scratch, I cook it myself. If this is about community, we should give each other grace.

I never forget how liberating it felt for the first time to take a (gasp!) store bought cake to some stupid school function and finally shed the inner voice that told me this wasn't good enough. I can bake. That doesn't mean I need to "should on myself".

What expectation?  I was simply commenting that things have changed and agreeing with Jean that it is likely due to people being so busy.  I don't think anyone's joy is killed....I think the people who bring store bought stuff are fine with it....and I am too.....because the focus is the people not the food.  And the gatherings I am talking about are not for strangers.  

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5 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

What expectation?  I was simply commenting that things have changed and agreeing with Jean that it is likely due to people being so busy.  I don't think anyone's joy is killed....I think the people who bring store bought stuff are fine with it....and I am too.....because the focus is the people not the food.  And the gatherings I am talking about are not for strangers.  

I was referring to your statement " to which my mom said yes, but complained to me how no one cooks anymore "

That's not merely commenting, that is judging. And people know that, even if it isn't said to their face.

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We had a potluck for one of our kids' activities this weekend. 2 of 3 of my family attending were not even eating, but I'm old-school about potlucks, so I took several (frugal) large dishes, anyway. I like to take cheese, fruit, and veg of some kind, because people who would like some plain foods are usually out of luck. 

I left before the meal, but it did NOT look like enough food. I honestly do not care if people would like to contribute a bucket of KFC chicken and store-bought salad and cookies. I do care that somebody is trying to assemble a meal for 100 when families of 4 to 12 people (seriously) each brought a bag of potato chips and some grapes. The volume you bring has to somewhat match the volume you will consume, which is how you get basically enough of most food categories for everyone and a few leftovers.

Not only did people bring inadequate food for their own family, but as many in the thread have mentioned, many who promised a certain dish decided not to come, and didn't tell the organizers until the last minute. They were glad to see my extra veggie and cheese trays.

I've decided that there are now fewer eating occasions that I'm willing to host - a dinner party, a backyard BBQ, or any other party which I am personally hosting (solo). OR I wouldn't mind helping with a prepared banquet, dinner, or reception for an organization that is paid in advance. (Whether it's funds allocated or a collection taken.) I would be happy to work with a committee on such-and-such an event with X amount in the budget, so we can make choices and create a good spread. I just don't have the nerves required to set out not-enough-food for a huge gathering of people. Honestly, the last big family dinner went no better. I ended up cooking an awful lot, and then washing all the dishes, without the fun (and control) of just hosting my own dinner party.

I also don't see any reason to continue traditions that don't work for people anymore. If it's going to stress everybody out to do a potluck - to the point that they have difficulty even getting to the store for the deli veggie tray or whatever, why do it? If it's just a matter of feeding people, let them buy in, and the organizers can order something (or let someone who has time and interest arrange for a more complete meal).

If it's a potluck amongst foodies, because they enjoy cooking and want to share, that group may still do potlucks. The old rules will still work. 

 

Edited by Lang Syne Boardie
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19 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

categories? 

4 main dishes, one of them vegan
4 side dishes, one of them vegan (like Mac-cheese, tater-tots, French fries, potato salad)
Vegetable or fruit tray (seasonal)
Pot of rice (8-10 cups)
Bread/rolls, pickles, olives, stuff you can stab with a toothpick
Large green salad, dressing on the side (no nuts or dairy in the salad, but can be on the side)
Chips, salsa and guacamole
Dessert (like a pan of brownies or a big package of Oreos)
Dessert
Dessert
Beverages for kids (ETA NOT juice-boxes.  Those things turn into squirt guns and it is a MESS.  They get water in cups now.)

Someone always makes coffee but otherwise I would add that to the list, and someone then needs to bring cream and sugar.

It's funny--I can do this from memory, just walking down the table.  :0)  As for sign-up, I put this all on a Google spreadsheet and gave everyone access.  I send out an email one week prior, and on Thursday I check in and see what we need -- which is usually not much more but a few fill-ins.    That's when the young single men on the team fill in things that they can pick up at the deli or whatever.  :0)

It helps if you leave 4 rows for main dishes, for example as opposed to waiting for 4 people to fill in one line.  It's more obvious where the holes are.  

We USUALLY have left-overs BUT ... last time it was my team's turn, 3 of the 8 texted at 8a.m.--two were in the emergency room and the other was at home with back spasms...so they would not be in.  THAT Sunday, I put out the smaller plates!
 

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24 minutes ago, regentrude said:

ETA: Why, please, is the wife asked to bring the salad? Why not the husband? Why are married people expected to cook, but not single persons? how does being married enhance your cooking skills?

 

On my team, both people get the message.  It's up to them who does the cooking.  Also, in our list, we have clean-up jobs, and sometimes those fall predominantly to men...so it kind of works out as far as the work level goes.  I have a couple of single guys on my team and one of them cooks and the other goes to the deli.

About 25 years ago, I had my team at work over for a potluck.  We all left work at about the same time to get to the gathering...and burst out laughing when we ALL showed up at the deli counter at the store that was on the way.  ALL of us, including me!  We worked out who would bring what, and it was perfect!

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There was a Cub Scout pack that "worked up" to the main dishes. If I remember correctly, 1st grades brought the paper products, 2nd graders brought the drinks, 3rd graders brought the desserts, 4th grades brought the sides and 5th graders brought the main dishes. Potluck only happened once a year and everyone could see the entire list each year so they knew what was going to happen next year.

I grew up without ever having been to a potluck in my entire life. As an adult the first few times I went to potluck I was really lost.

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39 minutes ago, regentrude said:

 

how does being married enhance your cooking skills?

 

in general, one has more access to a quality kitchen and has accumulated more cooking ware when married than when traveling light as a single.  Most single fellas aren't keeping a crockpot or casserole dishes around, much less pots or containers big enough for a family sized dish as older apts just don't have the counter and storage space.  ymmv, but here on the east coast quite a lot of apts are 90 year old summer homes...apt sized stove, not much in storage, and split between 4 singles.....

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I prefer true potlucks where everyone brings food.  I like sharing something we like with others.  Depending on time and budget that week it could be a main, a side or a dessert.

I don't like being assigned a category or specific item.  To me that's when it gets stressful.

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Our church does a good job with  potlucks. The church provides the main dish and everyone else brings sides or desserts. Paper products are provided. I’ve never been to one where we run out of anything. Yes, I see store brought stuff but if that’s what people have time for, so be it🌺

Edited by May
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Potlucks at my church are usually a mess. First problem is there just is not enough food. That is compounded by the first people in line taking heaping scoops of everything on the table even with hundreds of people behind them.

My old church used to have potlucks before Wednesday night classes. Even as a SAHM this just didn’t work at all. I remember telling one organizer that it isn’t that easy. It’s not like just bringing whatever I would be cooking for my family. My family didn’t get full hot meals on Wednesday nights. It was more of a grab a sandwich type of night.

I do think most people do not cook big full meals for their families every night. Most people I know do a combination of take out/fast food/pick up from deli counter at grocery store/sandwiches/freezer meals/etc. For those people cooking a main dish that is potluck worthy takes a lot of effort. Physical and mental. We can all be judgmental about that but I am in the camp of charging and providing some sort of main dish (even pizza) and asking for people to bring chips and dessert kind of stuff.

 

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Just now, May said:

Our church does a good jobs with potlucks. The church provides the main dish and everyone else brings sides or desserts. Paper products are provided. I’ve never been to one where we run out of anything. Yes, I see store brought stuff but if that’s what people have time for, so be it🌺

This has worked well for us too.  We often will have a big crockpot full of chili or soup.  Then people bring salads, sides or desserts.  But we are a small church so one big crockpot works for us.  A bigger gathering would need a bunch more crockpots! 

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My dd once complained in front of our priest about not getting any food. Our priest said “well it is called potluck- not good luck”. Lol.

It is hard not to be grumpy when I plan,shop, cook enough for 20 people and my family or four doesn’t eat. 

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9 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

My dd once complained in front of our priest about not getting any food. Our priest said “well it is called potluck- not good luck”. Lol.

It is hard not to be grumpy when I plan,shop, cook enough for 20 people and my family or four doesn’t eat. 

 

We learned to cook extra and leave a serving each at home, then have a dinner salad before we left...then if potluck was no luck, we could last until we returned.

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Just now, HeighHo said:

 

We learned to cook extra and leave a serving each at home, then have a dinner salad before we left...then if potluck was no luck, we could last until we returned.

Yep. I actually have chosen to just do it as an act of giving and take a bunch of food while not expecting to eat. So I do it when I am feeling charitable and skip it if I’m not. 

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4 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

 

We learned to cook extra and leave a serving each at home, then have a dinner salad before we left...then if potluck was no luck, we could last until we returned.

That’s pretty much my method too. 

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3 hours ago, soror said:

...People want to have a potluck (they are big where I live) but they don't want to mess with bringing anything....


Those are nice, but antithetical wishes on the part of those people, LOL 😉 
Can I wish to have an income, but one where I don't have to mess with doing any work...? 😂
It's all sort of like you can have 2 of the 3 for homeschooling -- cheap, easy, quality -- but it's impossible to have all 3 simultaneously. 😄

Edited by Lori D.
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We are part of something that does one every year, same weekend.  They supply the main dish and drinks.  The amount of people who bring a dish for 2-3 people is amazing.  This dinner is normally about 100 people.  Every year, we are told to bring double than you usually make or buy two of something and still 70% don’t.  The best this year was a person who brought a ham and cheese sandwich ( like what you would pack for your lunch).

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2 hours ago, Scarlett said:

I think this is the problem.  I have noticed our covered dish gatherings have really changed.  In the old days, there was sort of a method....older ones would bring a main dish for a lot of people....meatloaf, casseroles, A roast, a ham.....something like that...younger married ones would bring a nice side for a lot of people....like a 9 X 12 pan of corn casserole, or rice casserole, or mashed potatoes, or green beans, or baked beans....Who ever made really good pies would make 2 each.  And then for young single adults we expected or maybe even asked them to bring things like ice, or paper products.  It seemed fairly painless. 

But now.....like the other day my mom asked me to bring baked beans (which I made from scratch), and another young wife to bring potato salad....that young wife asked if she could bring store bought....to which my mom said yes, but complained to me how no one cooks anymore. And then that couple ended up not coming and my mom had to scramble and ask my adult son to bring store bought potato salad.  And every gathering seems like this.  If I ask a young couple to bring a dessert.....we get cupcakes from Wal-Mart.  Things really have changed.  I try to not worry about it and just focus on the relationships which are valuable and important to me.....but things are definitely different.

I agree, there has been a shift. We lived in a place with the best potlucks on the planet. Monthly church potlucks with really great food.  There was definitely a hierarchy of who brought what. And it was all amazing. It made me step up my game... 

Then we moved to an area that did monthly potlucks but you would see a family of 8 arrive with like a bag of Doritos. I would bring smoked pork AND rolls AND dessert to try to make up for it, but others did not pitch in and most of the time there would not be enough for everyone. It caused huge stress for me - I have no idea why, and I eventually decided not to go. 

I think the difference was at the first place there were a lot of middle aged moms who were good at food planning and cared about the potluck - so they kind of ruled the roost and made sure there was plenty of food, while at the second place there were less of the middle aged moms who have the skills to cook and plan big and more young families, so everyone thought someone else would bring something. At the first place I wanted to pitch in and help and it felt like family. At the second place I felt used. 

Apparently I have lots of potluck thoughts - when we were first married my mil asked me to bring scalloped potatoes to something. I had never made scallop potatoes!! I bought a box and made it and she complained about it to my sister in law. It was embarrassing! At that point in my life I could bake brownies and treats to share, but actual big food items were beyond my cooking skills! I would have bought the potato salad, too!!

plus it’s hard to do food for people today - low carb, gluten free, dye free, etc

Sorry to the original poster! I hope families will fill in needed items. With online sign ups I have waited to sign up for things to fill in for what others aren’t bringing - maybe you have a few people who will step in and save the day!

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1 hour ago, amyx4 said:

There was a Cub Scout pack that "worked up" to the main dishes. If I remember correctly, 1st grades brought the paper products, 2nd graders brought the drinks, 3rd graders brought the desserts, 4th grades brought the sides and 5th graders brought the main dishes. Potluck only happened once a year and everyone could see the entire list each year so they knew what was going to happen next year.

I grew up without ever having been to a potluck in my entire life. As an adult the first few times I went to potluck I was really lost.

have you met @Catwoman

LOL

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1 hour ago, HeighHo said:

in general, one has more access to a quality kitchen and has accumulated more cooking ware when married than when traveling light as a single.  Most single fellas aren't keeping a crockpot or casserole dishes around, much less pots or containers big enough for a family sized dish as older apts just don't have the counter and storage space.  ymmv, but here on the east coast quite a lot of apts are 90 year old summer homes...apt sized stove, not much in storage, and split between 4 singles.....

I guess my experience with singles is drastically different. Many of my single friends here are amazing cooks  and possess kitchen implements, and single people can be homeowners, too. (Not that that is necessary; having grown up in a country where most people live in apartments, I don't see oven size as a hindrance to feeding people. We managed just fine.)

Edited by regentrude
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