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Food for a big family do away from home

(49 Posts)
Witzend Fri 25-Jan-19 11:09:03

Next weekend, Fri to Sun, in a big rental property in the Cotswolds. Around 20, inc. a 2 and a 3 year old.
Several of the guests will have a long drive each way.

First idea was a takeaway for the Friday night - still seems sensible - and a restaurant for the Sat night. However, nobody has looked into this and from experience, getting anywhere to cater for a big party at relatively short notice may not be easy, esp. on a Sat night. Not to mention that the 2 year old will not sit after eating - he's still at the wanting to charge around stage, which is not fair on staff or other diners.
Eating in would seem easier all round.
So I think it,probably best to make some simple things in advance, to take.
First thought was a big chilli con carne, but there's at least one in the party who can't take anything very spicy any more.
And there are two who have become very gluten intolerant, one of whom also loathes milk and cream, and won't eat anything that looks 'milky'. Though at least there are no veggies or vegans to think of!

So although it sounds very boring, I'm thinking of two really big shepherd's pies, and 2 equally big macaroni cheeses - I have enough big dishes - which I could make in advance and heat up.

I once did the same for FiL's funeral (!) - also in the depths of winter - when I had no idea how many would come back afterwards, and they went down fine.

However, open to suggestions for anything else reasonably easy/transportable/make-in-advance-able. I did also think of lasagne, but pasta would be no good for the gluten intolerant ones, plus there's milk in the sauce, so can't do that alongside macaroni cheese.

Should add that I am happy to cook!

Miep1 Fri 25-Jan-19 11:22:29

Why not stick with the lasagne idea bit use gluten free pasta which you can find in the 'Free From' section in any supermarket. Nobody will tell the difference! Or spaghetti bolognaise, also GF? Casserole and dumplings?

shysal Fri 25-Jan-19 11:30:14

I think you are right to keep it basic. I would have chosen the same two dishes. Perhaps someone could also take a cooked ham which would be useful for sandwiches or snacks, and a cake and GF brownies?

jusnoneed Fri 25-Jan-19 11:46:05

My niece catered for a large mixed age group last year and the favourite thing she did was pulled pork (cooked day before), served with crackling,apple sauce and stuffing. Big bag of rolls and Coleslaw. (She did a pack of oven chips too, but she was at home so nothing to transport)
Lasagne/Chilli/Curry/Pasta bake all good or Enchiladas (tomato sauce) for something different. And you can make all the day before you go.

Telly Fri 25-Jan-19 12:16:09

Waitrose delivery is the way to go. You may (just) have time to order their 'entertaining' food which is made to order and ideal for this sort of event. We usually have a delivery anyway on the first evening of a self catering holiday, saves an awful lot of hassle. They can find even the most out of the way places too!

Lily65 Fri 25-Jan-19 12:34:39

Your dishes do not sound at all boring, absolutely lovely at the end of a long day.

I suggest make your dishes and that is your contribution. If the others want puddings, drinks and so on, they can order in.

nonnasusie Fri 25-Jan-19 12:44:36

My Italian DH never uses bechamel sauce in lasagna because it makes it too rich. Maybe just some parmesan sprinkled on top to help brown it!

kittylester Fri 25-Jan-19 13:40:53

Gf pasta doesn't freeze well. So I would make the meat sauce and the bechamel sauce and cook the pasta and then assemble when you get there.

Nannarose Fri 25-Jan-19 13:50:33

Shepherds pies, ideal.

Any 'big stew', which are usually lovely re-heated, or cold meats: cooked gammon (the butcher will do you a whole ham). Or, as we did on a similar occasion, push the boat out by cooking a big sirloin of beef, very rare, so it slices up beautifully cold.
Jacket potatoes add the 'warmth' and coleslaw, or lots of roast vegetables: onions, peppers, aubergine, tomatoes, leeks etc. all cut into chunks and tossed in oil & herbs for transporting. An hour to cook up in the oven.

I'd also be wary of the take-away: is it recommended? I'd check the environmental health scores, and I'd ring the order through well in advance. Personally I'd cook for both evenings - but we're a group who all like cooking, and prefer the work involved to the uncertainty of take-aways.

M0nica Fri 25-Jan-19 15:11:47

Amother big stew enthusiast. It can be served with rice or baked potatoes.

Also get caterers in for one meal if going out is too complicated. I did this last year because we had three vegetarians, 2 with nut, soya, and sesame allergies and someone with digestion problems in a party of 14. The cost was very reasonable.

Soup is another idea. Pre-prepare all the ingredients. Just add water and stock cubes when you get there and simmer. This can be served with bread and cheese.

eazybee Fri 25-Jan-19 15:56:48

Do you have to be responsible for all the catering? I would ask the gluten frees to organise their food, then they will know what they can and cannot tolerate, and ask other adults bring one dish of an approved choice: casserole, curry, pie. Catering for twenty at a distance is a big undertaking; definitely investigate the local takeaways for the first night.

luluaugust Fri 25-Jan-19 15:59:50

I reckon stew or lasagne with the gluten free pasta, you can assemble on arrival. We had a Waitrose delivery when we did a similar thing and had chicken breasts, some of which were cooked wrapped in bacon and herbs and others plain for those wanting something plain, accompanied by whatever veg you like or salad.

Izabella Fri 25-Jan-19 16:25:54

Chilli con carne will be fine. Just take a few portions out before putting spices in.

Witzend Fri 25-Jan-19 16:37:30

The trouble with anything fairly liquid, like stew, is that we have probably a 2 hour drive to get there, and I don't have any huge plastic containers, i.e. definitely spill-proof in case of sudden braking. Don't really want to buy any specially - very short of kitchen storage space.
But many thanks for all suggestions!
Will have a think.

annsixty Fri 25-Jan-19 16:47:25

I really don't want to be controversial but if I were going to /hosting a special weekend all together with family I really would want to push the boat out food and drink wise.
I can have Shepherd's pie any time but I would be treating this as a one off.
Forgive me if I have got the wrong end of the stick and you just want to get together regardless of anything else.
I would be arranging a delivery of nice, easy to prepare food.

dizzyblonde Fri 25-Jan-19 17:50:30

If you want to have a casserole type thing, line the pot you want to serve it in with layers of foil, then freeze the casserole in the pot. Then you put it in the dish to travel still frozen, double wrap in carrier bags and it will barely have defrosted over two hours but with no risk of spilling.
Either that or put it in whatever pot you were planning on transporting the chilli in.

dragonfly46 Fri 25-Jan-19 17:58:22

At a similar party in September my BiL and I went and picked up fish and chips from an amazing chippy in Oban. That went down very well. Another night we made pizzas ourselves and everyone made their own putting on it what they wanted. We had this with salad.

Tartlet Fri 25-Jan-19 19:03:14

I’m a great fan of pot luck suppers where everybody brings something to contribute to the meal. People can discuss and cordinate beforehand if they wish or just surprise everyone. The surprise ones can be very enjoyable even if sometimes rather bizarre. Might work better for the Friday night perhaps.

Gottalovethem Sat 26-Jan-19 09:13:12

You could maybe take a couple of slow cookers with you, Chuck every thing in and leave on all day. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

crystaltipps Sat 26-Jan-19 09:32:55

We do this but everyone brings a buffet dish or two. Works well.

MawBroon Sat 26-Jan-19 10:00:08

I suppose it is too late to book a “chef”for the Saturday night? So much easier to eat in when times are involved.
I think your suggestions are absolutely fine but hope you also have plenty of helpers so that you can enjoy yourself!

Rosina Sat 26-Jan-19 10:19:00

When we had a similar big weekend party at a rented house I organised a delivery from a local supermarket for all the basics - it saved so much effort. When you hve considered what you might cook for the 'easy' people perhaps you could order some really nice individual dishes from the super range for those who won't or can't eat along with the rest. We have a vegetarian, a vegan, a gluten free and several fuss pots, and everyone got something they enjoyed. I hope you enjoy your weekend too - it shouldn't be a lot of hard work for you.

Wendiwoo Sat 26-Jan-19 10:28:33

We use a local (Cotswold) chippy for a village get-together of 30-40 people. We ring in the order a couple of days before and collect it or they will deliver.

SunnySusie Sat 26-Jan-19 10:30:55

We managed very well with beef casseroles when my mother couldnt cook any more but still wanted big family gatherings at her house. We would part cook the casserole, then put it in a double lined cardboard box on layers of paper, fill around with straw, top with more paper and it kept on cooking for most of the hour and a half journey. On arrival we gave it a top up heat through and served. The baked spuds travelled the same way. Nothing spilled because we sealed the lids on with strong gaffer tape. Could you do that for Friday?

EthelJ Sat 26-Jan-19 10:36:11

I think your choices sound ideal Witzend. I also think your family are very lucky that you are happy to organise the food. I am sure they will be grateful to have someone cook for them, especially the parents of the children. My DD and SIL parents of 3 are always very happy when i cater for them whatever I cook, they are just happy to have the break!
Have a lovely weekend!