Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

My Weekend: Feeding a Crowd on a Budget without Spending All Your Time in the Kitchen

by heather

This weekend my in-laws came to visit. My sister-in-law and mother-in-law enjoy doing triathlons and on Saturday there was one about a mile from my house. They did a sprint distance while my husband and I just did a beginner triathlon. (You have to start somewhere, right?) With our house occupancy growing from 4 to 11, this meant that vast quantities of food was to be consumed, and I needed to find some way to do it that didn’t involve vast quantities of money or me spending my weekend in front of the stove, because frankly I’d rather spend time with my family while they were here. So here’s the menu plan from the weekend.

Friday night
Fajitas– About a month ago there was a sale on petite sirloin. I bought 5 lbs, cut it into cubes, put it into plastic bags with marinade and dried onions and froze it. Mid morning I threw the contents in the crock pot and cooked it on low for 8 hours. Half an hour before they arrived I chopped one large red onion, 2 green, one red, one yellow and one orange bell peppers and stir-fried them. The red onion and tortillas came from my Bountiful Basket. I also learned that you can get a 3 color bell pepper pack at my local Walmart for $3.50, whereas to buy the colored peppers individually costs about $1.70 each.
Cafe Rio Style Cilantro Lime Rice & Black Beans – I made these in my crock pot ahead of time and froze them. The night before I transferred them from the freezer to the fridge and microwaved them while I cooked the veggies.
Fruit Salad– I used 3 persimmons, 1 lime (juiced), 1/2 banana, 3/4ths of a pomegranate, 1 cup of black grapes, 1 pear, 3 kiwis, 1 mango and a few strawberries. All but the last 3 ingredients came from my Bountiful Basket. I chopped this up the night before.
Birthday Cake– Pink cake with chocolate pudding frosting. All ingredients came from my freezer or food storage.

Fruit and cold cereal for breakfast
Lunch @ Five Guys to celebrate after the tri (paid for by my in-laws)
Saturday afternoon we climbed all over Pioneer Park. When we came home everyone was tired. So as soon as we got home I popped a couple of these in the oven for 20 minutes: Buffalo Chicken Calzones– One weekend when I was filling ambitious I made a few of these and froze them. When I made them I used cauliflower puree and spinach from my BB. 2 of these babies was enough for 9 people with a small amount of leftovers. (Neither of my kids would consider eating anything so spicy, they had sandwiches, and those 9 people had all had a very big lunch.)
I served them with Pink (because it is my little sister-in-law’s favorite) and leftover birthday cake. (There was a lot of leftover birthday cake because everyone was so full from the fajitas, rice and beans.)

Saturday night I prepared a Blackberry French Toast Bake and set it in the fridge overnight. The recipe needs some tweaks, so I’ll share it later, but I used one loaf of 9 Grain bread from my BB, one cup of frozen blackberries, one package of Kraft neufchatel (that I recently got for free using coupons), powdered eggs, powdered milk and spices from my pantry. Sunday morning when I was only semi-conscious I put it in the oven and went back to bed. I served it with a 3 packages of sausage that I had gotten a ridiculous deal on. In retrospect it would have been nice to have a few more servings of this because there were no leftover french toast stuff, but people filled in the difference with fruit and more leftover birthday cake.

I estimate that all of these meals cost me about $44 (with about $29 being for Friday night’s meal). I consider this a victory. I love my extended family, however several of them are somewhat averse to what they call “healthy food”, which sometimes makes meal planning a challenge. I managed to plan meals that everyone enjoyed, incorporated lots of fruits and vegetables and feed 11 people for a reasonable sum of money while still spending lots of time with them instead of in the kitchen. It was a good weekend. :) (Yes, perhaps I should have taken pictures of some of these meals, but they never lasted enough for such actions. Sorry.)

3 Responses to “My Weekend: Feeding a Crowd on a Budget without Spending All Your Time in the Kitchen”

  1. Jocelyn Christensen says:

    Thanks…I am hosting thanksgiving so I could use some good food ideas for the other nights!

  2. elizabeth @ twelvecrafts says:

    Blackberry French Toast Bake? That sounds YUMMY!!!!!! I have a French Toast Bake recipe, but I love the idea of adding fruit.

    Hmmm . . . in fact, now you have my wheels turning for an Christmas morning breakfast tradition!

  3. Heather says:

    The recipe was actually called "Blueberry French Toast Casserole", (I substituted blackberries) but my family decided that sounded really gross. But not gross enough that it stopped anyone from eating it. :)

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