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I just got back from an impromptu trip to Nashville, TN (I live in Minnesota, remember). This is the fourth year that my eldest son has participated in a week long service oriented mission team. In past years, they’ve served in Louisiana, South Carolina and Indiana– and this year they are in Nashville. The group’s focus is threefold. First, they serve at the host church, doing projects like putting in sidewalks and building sheds. Second, they visit various ministries in the area and not only learn about them, but serve with them. (Yesterday, they worked at a community garden and harvested over 1,200 pounds of potatoes!) And last, they have classes that help them dig in to how God has made them, and how they can step into service and leadership in their home church and community.
A week before the trip was scheduled to begin, the lady who has always done all of their meal planning and preparation had to have emergency surgery. Since my college roommate and dear friend is one of the leaders of the trip, we were chatting about it and I mentioned that I couldn’t come for the whole week, but could come down and feed them the first few days, and get meals prepped for the rest of the week. So that’s what I did.
I just walked in my door a couple of hours ago, exhausted. But it’s the best kind of exhausted. I feel so fortunate to have been able to be a part of this group of 30 young people and adults growing and serving together.
And, as an added bonus, I got to visit the South for a few days! Gentility, how I miss you. Nice to see you again, Waffle House and sweet tea.
I’m not going to give you the whole run down of my plan to feed 30 people breakfast, lunch and dinner for a week, but I’ll share the highlights.
The delightful pastor of the church and his wife opened their home to me and gave me free reign of their kitchen for the three days I was with them. The first day, I did lots of baking. Having a budget and limited time to prepare, I had hit my Aldi in Minnesota before we drove down to pick up a few supplies I knew I’d need. While there, I noticed brownie mix was on sale for 79 cents a box for a 9×13 pan size. Winner! I got six boxes, and baked them up my first day in the kitchen.
Oatmeal Breakfast Cake
I also baked oatmeal breakfast cake for Sunday morning’s breakfast. I mixed all of the dry ingredients at home in gallon size Ziploc bags and wrote the wet ingredients needed on the bags along with baking instructions. Boy did that make things so much more efficient on baking day!
These cakes were a big hit. I used quick cooking oats, which basically dissolved into the batter. This made for a dense, satisfying cake, without the texture of oats that some (un-named picky children) may not care for. I served the oatmeal breakfast cake with yogurt, juice, milk and coffee.
I added chocolate chips to my cakes, but they’d be great with fruit as well. Fresh blueberries … mmm! Feel free to customize to your family’s liking. You could also use regular old-fashioned oats, too. I’ve made it like that and I really like the added texture.
Want to know what else I planned for the week?
I used ground beef to make taco meat that I stashed in the freezer in foil pans. The pan of chicken in this photo was for Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya, which I made in a large, electric roaster. I cut up the chicken breasts and stored them in Ziploc bags until I needed the meat on Sunday night. I had planned on making pulled pork for one of their meals, but changed my plan when I found out that the church was providing pulled pork from a local BBQ place for the team. (It was YUM!!)
Ground beef also made its way into these foil packets (this is only half of them). The group will be at a campground later in the week, and needed food they could cook over a fire. I used steak seasoning to season up ground beef, made large patties, and wrapped each one in a double foil square. I made pans of buttered potatoes using frozen hash brown cubes to go with the meat packets.
I left marinated chicken breasts in bags for them to stick in crock pots in the morning, so after a long day of working they can come back to ranch shredded chicken sandwiches. And for breakfasts I left foil pans of egg bakes, pancake muffins, sausages, and lots of fruit and yogurt. Since they’ll be out working every day, lunches will be sandwich fixings they can tote in a cooler with fruit and chips.
I’d love to hear what you’d plan if you had to cook for a crowd. When I found out I was going, I hit Pinterest looking for ideas of things that could be made and frozen, prepped ahead, and served a crowd. Speaking of freezing… this oatmeal breakfast cake freezes beautifully! We had almost a whole cake leftover, so I stashed it in the freezer for the team to take out later in the week. Just be sure to wrap tightly with foil.
So what would you make?? I’d love to add it to my list if I’m ever blessed enough to cook for a crowd like this again!
Here’s the recipe for my oatmeal breakfast cake…enjoy!
Adapted from this recipe.