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Category: From My Kitchen

Easy Meals for 20+ People | Our Vacation Menu Plan for 28 People

Need some easy meals for 20 people…or maybe just some easy recipes for large groups? Here’s how we fed 28 people on our recently family vacation including the meals we made + how we divvied up the responsibilities.

Be sure to also check out my post on last year’s Big Family Vacation Menu Plan!

large family group

Easy Meals for 20+ People

We recently went to Utah with my entire extended family (parents, 3 brothers, 3 sisters, and their spouses and kids). My dad rented a huge cabin for us to stay in and we all pitched in and helped with the food.

I thought it would be fun to share what we ate and how we planned and divided up the responsibilities. This might give you some inspiration in case you need some suggestions for easy meals for 20+ people!

large family meal

easy meals for 20 people being served

How We Planned and Divvied Things Up

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

Perfect Potluck website

(A screenshot of the sign up form on Perfect Potluck.)

Whatever meals or parts of meals you signed up for, you were in charge of bringing the ingredients for and cooking/baking.

This time around, we also had a sign-up for kitchen clean-up, too, so that my dad wouldn’t spend the entire trip doing dishes. (He’s always working in the kitchen, it seems! He says he loves it, but 28 people make a LOT of dishes!)

easy meals for 20 people: baked oatmeal for a large family

pancakes for breakfast

easy recipes for large groups: pancakes and bacon for breakfast

What We Made for Breakfast

When you’re serving meals for 20+ people, breakfast is the simplest meal (in my opinion)!

Here’s what we served for breakfast:

  • Pancakes, Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, Orange Juice
  • Baked Oatmeal (my sister made the mix of the dry ingredients ahead of time for this), Sausage, Orange Juice
  • Cereal, Fruit, Leftover Pancakes & Eggs

easy meals for 20 people: salad bar

What We Made for Lunch

For lunch, we had a huge Build-Your-Own Salad Bar (most all of my family loves salads!). We also had bread and meat/cheese 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 for 20+ people — and frugal, too! All the ingredients can be stretched a really long way, since you’re only using a little bit of each ingredient on your salad.

Build-Your-Own Salad Bar Ingredients: A variety of Greens and Lettuce, Canned Tuna/Salmon, Boiled Eggs, Raisins, Seeds/Nuts, Avocados, Bell Peppers, Cucumbers, Chickpeas, Cherry Tomatoes, Dressings

easy meals for large groups: hot dogs and hamburgers

easy recipes for large groups: preparing vegetables for a big dinner

easy meals for 20 people: hawaiian rolls, chicken, and fruit

easy meals for 20 people waiting to be served dinner

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:

  • Build-Your-Own Haystacks, Homemade Guacamole, Rice
  • Grilled Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Salad, Fruit, Green Beans, Homemade Rolls
  • Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, Tater Tots, Corn on the Cob, Watermelon, Veggie Tray, Steamed Broccoli

budget grocery shopping for large groups

Here’s what our family contributed contributed (I went to Smith’s — a Kroger affiliate — and was able to get all of this for around $50!) + I brought some salad toppings, canned tuna and salmon, and some extra snacks in our luggage.

It’s amazing how it’s not too much work on any one person to feed 20+ people if we all pitch in and help!

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

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Easy 4th of July Recipe | Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins

Looking for some really easy 4th of July recipes? These Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins are delicious and super simple to whip up in a pinch!

{Looking for 4th of July desserts? Check out this Patriotic Mason Jar Ice Cream — so much fun for the whole family!}

Patriotic Muffins for 4th of July

Easy 4th of July Muffin Recipe

The 4th of July is right around the corner and will be here before we know it!!

If you’re looking for creative 4th of July recipes to take to an Independence Day potluck or family gathering, try these fun Patriotic Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins!

ingredients for strawberry and blueberry muffinsmaking blueberry and strawberry muffins

These Patriotic Muffins are ridiculously easy to whip up and they’re seriously some of the BEST muffins I’ve ever tasted!

They’re super moist and delicious — and it’s difficult to eat just one! You might want to make an extra batch just in case. 😉

4th of July muffins ready for the ovenbaked blueberry and strawberry muffins on cooling racks

If you’re looking for easy 4th of July recipes, these Strawberry and Blueberry Muffins are really versatile!

You could use them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even snack/dessert! I’d think they’d also be perfect for a brunch gathering!

4th of July muffins slathered in butter with confetti

You can eat them cooled or warmed, but I recommend them warm and slathered in butter. YUM!

I love the extra flavor twist that the strawberries add to the traditional blueberry muffins taste. But if you love the tart taste of raspberries, you could always substitute the strawberries for raspberries and still have a fun patriotic-themed 4th of July recipe!

patriotic muffins lined up

The best part of these Patriotic Muffins? They freeze really well!

Make them ahead of time a few days or even a week before you need them, and then all you have to do is pull them out of the freezer a few hours before serving them! Eat them as-is or pop them in the microwave to warm them up.

Oh — and if you’re looking for a dairy free version, just substitute the yogurt with your favorite brand of dairy-free vanilla yogurt. Voila!

close-up of patriotic muffins

Want to save money and eat healthier?

Easy 4th of July Dessert | Patriotic Mason Jar Ice Cream

Looking for easy 4th of July desserts? This Patriotic Mason Jar Ice Cream is super delicious, so easy to make, and great holiday fun for the whole family!

{Psst! Be sure to check out our Oreo Ice Cream Cake recipe, too!}

Homemade 4th of July Patriotic Ice Cream in a Mason Jar

Note from Crystal: I’m so excited to have my youngest sister, Olivia, sharing this fun patriotic dessert idea today! After SO many of you loved her Easter Candy Recipe, I thought it’d be fun for her to share a 4th of July dessert!

There’s nothing quite like a bowl of fresh, homemade ice cream! As a child, one of my favorite memories was pulling out the old wooden ice cream maker and cranking up some delicious goodness!

Sometimes we made it even easier by just using Ziplock bags! With ice, salt, and some vigorous shaking, the delicious ice cream was ready to sample. I can still remember the taste of that cold treat on a hot summer day!

ingredients for homemade ice cream

This Mason Jar Ice Cream recipe is incredibly simple to make and takes just a few ingredients that you most likely already have on hand in your kitchen.

The mason jars serve as a fun, mess-free way to involve your kids, because they will love getting to shake up their own jar! Also, since the ice cream is mixed, made, and eaten out of the same mason jar, it really saves on dishes and clean-up.

shaking up homemade ice cream in a mason jarwet paper towel around a mason jar of ice cream

This Mason Jar Ice Cream is a perfect 4th of July dessert, but it is also such a fun activity for the whole family to do together on the fourth!

Everyone can shake up a jar a couple hours before sunset. After the jars are frozen, everyone can enjoy their tasty treat while watching the fireworks explode!

ice cream on a spoon from a mason jar

Just look at that creamy vanilla deliciousness! Yum!

And the best part of this Mason Jar Ice Cream? It’s super versatile! Make it a patriotic 4th of July dessert using all kinds of different toppings — marshmallows, M&M’s, skittles, jelly beans, sprinkles, or fruit.

vanilla ice cream with strawberries and blueberries

Anything that’s red, white, and blue will do the trick! I prefer fresh fruit, so I used strawberries and blueberries. (Raspberries would work, too.)

And sprinkles are just festive, so I had to try that, as well! 😉

vanilla ice cream with patriotic sprinkles4th of July ice cream dessert with blueberries and patriotic sprinkles

4th of july ice cream dessert

What are some of your favorite 4th of July desserts? Please share in the comments!!

55 Ways to Use Up Ripe Bananas

Wondering what to do with ripe bananas on your kitchen counter? I love banana recipes, so I decided to put together a HUGE list of 55 things to make with ripe bananas!

(Psst! Be sure to check out our family’s very favorite Freezer-Friendly Banana Bread Recipe! We also really love these Homemade Breakfast Cookies!)

55 ideas for what to do with ripe bananas

We love bananas at our house, but occasionally, life happens and it’s easy to let bananas go past their prime. Or, sometimes, I’ll find bananas marked down at the store because they are starting to get too ripe.

I’m really weird in that I prefer to eat bananas when they have some black spots on them, but the rest of my family won’t touch them once they are at the “Black Spot” stage.

When we have an abundance of over-ripe bananas, I either freeze them to use in smoothies and baking later, or I go ahead and make one of our favorite banana recipes with them.

ripe bananas on counter

What to Do With Ripe Bananas

I thought it might be fun to put together a list of some of my favorite things to make with ripe bananas!

The recipes on this list are a mixture of some of my favorite banana recipes right here on this blog, plus some other recipes I gathered from other sites that I hope to try soon.

Most of them are fairly healthful (with a few exceptions) and many of them are family favorites. Enjoy!!

homemade breakfast cookies

Breakfasts:

peeled bananas on cookie sheet for the freezer

Snacks:

homemade banana bread on a white plate

Breads:

ripe bananas on white counter

Muffins:

banana green smoothie on wooden table

Smoothies:

banana chocolate chip bars on white plate

Desserts:

What are YOUR favorite ideas for what to do with ripe bananas? Tell us in the comments!

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I want to help! Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to my new eBook, 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. Sign up now!

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This Week’s $70 Grocery Budget (+ what we ate)

Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and we will be compensated if you click through and sign up. Read our disclosure policy here.

This Week’s $70 Grocery Budget

I told you we were doing a 100 Days of Summer Fun Challenge this summer. We’re currently on Day 10 and it’s been so good. This photo was taken at the top of Fort Negley in Nashville.

We went there as a family to have a picnic dinner one night this past week. It was my idea — and well, let’s just say, the kids weren’t as excited about it as I was.

(You can read more about our evening there here… and hopefully it helps you remember that we’re far from perfect over here!)

photo of a salad

I bought some marked down salmon a few weeks ago and it was a fun addition to my daily salads this past week. Yum!

Pizza Hot Pockets

On Tuesday evening, I made a big batch of Pizza Hot Pockets. I used the basic idea from Ham & Cheese Pockets, but I used pasta sauce, browned ground beef, and cheddar cheese.

I made two pans and it was enough for two nights (plus some extras for lunch) and these were a hit!

Kroger Grocery Shopping Trip

Kroger Shopping Trip #1

$0.50 salad

I loved the $0.50 salads. The second day, I added some of the cooked salmon to it and it tasted amazing!

Sprouts coupon

Sprouts coupon

Did you download your free Sprouts coupons??

Sprouts Shopping Trip

Sprouts Shopping Trip

I got both of these for just $0.20 out of pocket at Sprouts!

Note: I accidentally picked up the non-organic peppers. I realized my mistake at the register when the coupon didn’t come off! I offered to go get the organic peppers so I could exchange them with these and the cashier said, “Oh, don’t worry about it! I’ll just take those off your order!”

If you missed my post from last week and you love Dollar Tree, be sure to check out my thoughts on 5 Things You Should Not Buy at Dollar Tree.

Dollar Tree Shopping Trip

Dollar Tree Shopping Trip

While I was at Dollar Tree taking photos for the above post, I also picked up 4 bottles of lemon juice (for my Gallon of Lemon Water a Day habit) and I picked up some Coconut Oil cooking spray to try out.

I asked on Instagram if anyone had tried the coconut oil cooking spray. Some of you said you loved it. Some of you said it didn’t work at all. So I guess I’ll just have to try it for myself and see! 🙂

Sonic Corn Dogs

And of course, we had to stop by Sonic for their $0.50 corn dogs on Thursday!

Kroger sale

I was so excited about the fun deals at Kroger for Memorial Day weekend! (And the kids were super excited about sweet tea, cookies, and ice cream bars!)

Kroger sale

Kroger deals

Someone told me that they use the Deluxe Grahams for s’mores! We’ll have to try that!
Kroger deals

These are so great to have on hand for hosting people over the summer!

Kroger deals

Kroger Shopping Trip #2

  • 5 packages of Keebler cookies — $0.99 each with the Weekend Digital coupon
  • 1 pack of Snapple — $1.99 with the Weekend Digital coupon
  • 5 boxes of ice cream bars — $0.99 each with the Weekend Digital coupon
  • 5 packages of hot dog buns — $1.19 each
  • 4 boxes Cinnamon Frosted Flakes — marked down to $1 each
  • 2 bags of avocados — marked down to $0.99 each
  • 1 package Butterscotch chips — marked down to $1
  • 2 packages turkey — on closeout for $2 each
  • Pickle relish — $0.79
  • Kroger pickles — $1.59
  • Mustard — $0.49
  • Dijon mustard — $1.25
  • 3 salad kits — marked down to $1.49 each
  • Total with tax: $39.79

Practicing Hospitality on a Budget

A question I often get is how we can afford to practice hospitality with a $70 grocery budget. We love opening up our home and I love finding creative ways to do it frugally. (See my post here for some ideas for hospitality on a budget.)

Some friends from India were in the states and we wanted to have them over along with a few other families. I knew that our Indian friends actually enjoy real American food so I thought a traditional cookout would be fun!

We had about 20 packages of beef hot dogs and beef brats in the freezer — that I’ve picked up when they’ve been on great sales over the past 3-6 months. So I invited everyone to come and said we’d provide the hot dogs, brats, buns, and condiments. Everyone else brought a side and/or drink.

This made it easy for everyone and also really simple to pull off! It was such a wonderful evening of games, laughter, and good conversation!

Headed on a Road Trip!

On Saturday morning, we left for a quick family road trip to visit three states we haven’t all visited before (Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa). We brought snacks for the road, some food for some meals, and we are staying at hotels with free breakfasts. We love to splurge on one meal out at a local restaurant each day on our trip.

(Follow along on Instagram stories to see what we’re doing, seeing, and eating in these states!)

What We Ate On Our $70 Grocery Budget This Past Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here.

Our Menu Plan

Breakfasts:

  • Cereal, Pancakes, Oatmeal, Scrambled Eggs, Toast

Lunches:

  • Ham Sandwiches, Carrots, Oranges, Salads, Leftovers, Cookies (We also got a few $0.50 corn dogs at Sonic in the afternoon.)

Snacks:

  • Fruit, Peppers, Popcorn, Cookies, Hard Boiled Eggs, Cereal, Granola Bars, Chocolate Milk

Dinners:

  • Sunday — Fend for yourself
  • Monday — Grilled Beef, Twice Baked Potatoes, Hawaiian Rolls, Oranges
  • Tuesday — Homemade Pizza Pockets, Oranges
  • Wednesday — Leftover Pizza Pockets, Peppers, Creme Brulee
  • Thursday — Pancakes
  • Friday — Cookout with five other families at our house (we provided all of the Brats/Hot Dogs — I had these stockpiled in the freezer from recent deals — plus the condiments and buns. Everyone else brought a side/drinks.)
  • Saturday — We stopped at McAlister’s on our way to Madison, WI.

$70 Grocery Budget Totals

Total spent on groceries: $70.64

Cashback earned this week: 100 points for submitting my receipts to Fetch rewards + $0.75 for submitting my receipt to iBotta rewards and buying snack bars + a snack.