Where to start?
First of all, who's going to make it?
How about each branch of a family takes a rotating day in a week stay - first and 3rd day for example. Or an alternative is to make teams ahead of time.
Then what to make? and how do you co-ordinate who brings what, so that you don't have waste at the end of your stay by bringing multiples of some foods?
Below are some great sites to inspire a plan, at favfamilyrecipes.com and thrivinghomeblog.com .
Crock pot cooking is a great option for large groups. It takes a little planning but allows freedom for the cook, to not have to hover over the stove all day. Here are some great crockpot ideas that I found on Pinterest.
Here is another great meal plan for a group of 30 for a weekend trip from simpleorganizedliving.com:
A Menu for a Crowd:Breakfast for Friday – Sunday:
1. Type out a detailed meal plan for each day
Normally, I just write our weekly dinner plans in my planner, but for this large of an event, I planned every meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and typed out all the details of each meal so I wouldn’t forget anything. I even color-coded the days for fun!
3. Go through each recipe and write down everything you need on one big master list.
For example, if I needed 2 cups of sour cream, I would write “2 cups of sour cream”, not just “sour cream”.
4. Look at your master list and consolidate “like” items into one shopping list.
Your first list is going to look really long and messy… that’s OK! The trick is to go through and consolidate “like” items together. For example, if one recipe needed 2 cups of sour cream, another recipe needed 3 cups, and you needed another cup of sour cream for your baked potatoes, you would need 6 cups of sour cream total. So write “6 cups of sour cream” on your shopping list.
Similarly, if you want yogurt and fruit available multiple times, make sure you mentally try to estimate how much you might need, and list it as one item on your shopping list (3 quarts of yogurt, 4 bunches of grapes, etc.)
***I would divide these lists up and circulate them to each dinner group ahead of time to plan and bring. This can all be done by email well in advance.
More Simple Crowd-Pleasing Recipe Ideas:
1. Chili in the slow cooker
2 Taco Bar or Walking Tacos
3. Pulled Pork in the slow cooker
4. Any type of salad and/or sandwich
5. Roasts, ham, or other large cuts of meat in a slow cooker or in the oven
6. Any type of soup in a slow cooker
A note about food allergies and sensitivities:
Planning a large group to meet everyone's likes and dislikes is almost impossible - add in food allergies and it adds a whole other element to your planning. In this day in age though it's almost impossible to avoid allergies and sensitivities in a large group. Taking this into account is worth the effort in the planning phase to make sure your trip goes smoothly. Just as a side note, we love the FreeYumm bars and cookies to have on hand as a snack with little people around who may or may not have allergies to foods. We love them at our house, freeze them when I buy too much. They are free of the top 9 allergens, void of preservatives or artificials and made right here in Canada!
Dorothy's Lodge was originally opened to the public as a space to keep fishermen and tourists.
A "Fish Fry" has been a long standing tradition in these parts to celebrate the fruits of our labour and to bring the community or family together. Building a Fish Fry night into your meal planning is an option to keep the group motivated - they have to catch the fish before you can eat them!
The most convenient place to grab a few extra groceries is right across the street at Brown's Marina Store. They also are a convenient source for Beer, wine and liquor.
If it's a more thorough job you want to do, you might consider going to the next closes grocery store which is in Elgin, Ontario, called Gordanier's Fresh Mart. Another wonderful choice is Kudrinko's Grocery in Westport Ontario which is also a nice trip to do some gift shopping.
A trip into Kingston is another option with many grocery stores, including Costco and National Grocers to do bulk shopping if needed. There's lots to do in Kingston to make your trip worthwhile.
If you simply need a night off from cooking, but don't want to leave, catering is a great option.
We highly reccommend these caterers who are local and are familiar with us and our kitchen at Dorothy's Lodge:
1.Veronika Jasper Fayers at “Two Carats Catering” 613-359-5175
Personal Chef Service and Catering
Sophisticated comfort food by Veronika Jaspers-Fayer
2. Karen & Hans Marx (613) 924-0787
3. Wendy’s Market - Food hub for local produce
Local Flavours platters with artisan cheeses, sausages, wraps, home baked desserts.
4. Kudrinko’s Catering Westport 613-273-2130 https://kudrinkos.com/
5. Wanda MacDonald The Wandering Fork http://wanderingfork.tripod.com/
If a night out is what you're looking forward, then a 2 minute walk from Dorothy's Lodge towards the Chaffey's Locks and the Opinicon Hotel. There are also many other choices throughout the area, including The Cove in Westport, The Galley in Portland, Hotel Kenney at Jones Falls, The Stage Coach in Newboro and the Pizzeria in Elgin to name a few.
Over the years we've seen lots of different ways that groups organize themselves. It depends on the group of course: family reunions, workplace retreats, interest group retreats. Division of labour could be an issue which deters the organizers from moving forward with planning an event of these types. Let's face it, no one really likes the chores and it can be hard enough to organize a family of 4 let alone a much larger group. At Dorothy's Lodge, we can pack in 45 people, which makes good planning - a good plan.
Cooking, cleaning the kitchen, buying the groceries for the group, laundry, general clean up of floors, bathrooms etc should be all worked into the plan. Most family groups will assign certain parts of the family to take charge of the kitchen a certain night of the week. For instance if it's a family re- union with say 3 branches, each branch takes a rotating day in a week stay - first and 3rd day for example. Or an alternative is to make teams ahead of time.
The kitchen is the heart of a household. Any family or friend gatherings usually start and end in the kitchen. Memory is linked with emotion - food, fun, and yummy smells can trigger the recall of the experience in the heart of our building.
A TripAdvisor Review from one of our guests:
"Just came back from a retreat with my varsity men's and women's cross country teams (30 people) and am blown away by how great this place was for our purposes. The immediate evirons are fantastic for running (also cycling, if that's your thing), and the proximity to the water (for canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and water running) was a huge bonus. And after workouts, the lodge was a very spacious place to unwind. Then there was the full-sized commercial kitchen, in which two of us were easily able to feed and clean up for 30 people 3x/day with minimal effort (mealtime was actually a highlight!). We are already booked for next year. Can't imagine a more ideal place for the active vacationer or group!"
"We are a family of foodies and the commercial kitchen blew all of us away. We were able to store, refrigerate, freeze, prepare, cook, serve, and clean up with no effort at all. That goes a long way in making the vacation less stressful."
Here is a link for the use of our dishwasher:
Lamber’s commercial high-temperature dishwashers have a proven track record of quality, dependability and efficiency. Completely constructed with stainless-steel panels (including wash and rinse arms), Lamber’s dishwashers will satisfy even the toughest sanitary requirements. Our under counter machines use only 2 L (0.5 gallon) of water per cycle, assuring generous savings on soap, rinse, water and energy consumption. Complete cycle (from start to finish) is two minutes – equaling 30 racks per hour. Soap pump, rinse pump, drain pump and BOOSTER included.
Here's some basics to get me started.
A good list to look at how to make the starting plans.