Feeding a Non-Vegan Crowd, Part I

Every year we have a crowd (a.k.a. my family) come and stay with us for the long 4thof July weekend (and sometimes longer.)  Every year I plan, shop for, and cook meals for the crowd.  Last year (my first vegan year) I planned meals that were vegan-friendly but included meat, cheese, eggs and such for the rest of the group.  This year, I decided I didn’t want to purchase or cook any animal products (this whole vegan thing is really growing on me.)

The challenge:  Feed 14 people, all meat-eaters, for several days, and not purchase/cook any animal products.  It took some creative planning but I’d like to share with you how I managed.  This is Part I.

FirstPlan ahead (always necessary when feeding a crowd, especially over multiple days).  Once I came up with a partial plan, I wrote it out for everyone to see.  Letting everyone know the “plan” makes it easier is people want to make modifications to the plans and/or help out.  (Hey, we’re family, if someone doesn’t like something, we don’t hold back — much.)

SecondGo to Costco.  Cooking for a large group of people is always easier if you can purchase at least some of the items in bulk (and for cheap) at Costco.  Here is what I purchased at Costco.

  • Organic lettuce and (non-organic :( ) tomatoes.
  • 4 loaves of french bread (2 garlic, 2 plain)
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Broccoli florets (a huge bag)
  • Hummus (Oasis brand = local and very good)
  • 6 pack of tri-colored bell peppers (red, orange, yellow)
  • 2 huge apple pies (this was my hubby’s idea, not mine)
  • Toilet paper (10 people staying in the house + 4 more hanging out here = need lots of toilet paper.  TMI?  Sorry.)

Third: Go to regular grocery store for items not found (or not appropriate to purchase in bulk) at Costco.

  • Organic Carrots
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Tomato Sauce (lots!)
  • Zucchini
  • Flour (AP and whole wheat)
  • and a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember right now, but who cares.

Everyone arrived on Friday (by early afternoon).  I already had my Smokey Marinara Sauce cooking in the slow cookers.  Yes, that’s plural.  I used 2 large slow cookers and made a ton of sauce.  Recipe at the end of this post.  Here was the menu for Friday night dinner –  served buffet style:

  • Whole wheat spaghetti (not pictured)
  • Smokey marinara sauce (not pictured)

Steamed Broccoli and Carrots

Oven-Roasted Bell Peppers and Zucchini

French Bread + Garlic French

Here’s a photo of my plate.  Yes, it’s over-loaded with food.  Yes, I ate it all.

No one seemed to mind not having meat for dinner.  Although, it’s possible they were too nice (too afraid) to tell me they wanted meat with their spaghetti.  :) Also, they might have forgiven the “no meat” because for dessert, Hubby broke out the apple pie and vanilla ice cream.  I don’t care for apple pie, so for my dessert I just ate another piece (or two) of the yummy french bread.

Dinner #1:  Done.  Success.  Lots of leftovers which were consumed for lunch the next day.


Smokey Marinara Sauce Recipe.  (I think this originally came from Cooking Light, but I’ve had it for a long time so I’m not sure.)

Makes 6 cups (I tripled this recipe)

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c. fresh basil (fresh is BEST)
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley (I used dried this time, and used less)
  • 2 t. dried oregano
  • 2 t. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. pepper
  • 1-28oz can crushed FIRE-ROASTED tomatoes, undrained
  • 1-28oz can crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • (use a good brand, like Muir Glen for the tomatoes, really makes a difference.)

Brown the garlic in the olive oil, then add all the other ingredients.  Cook for 1 hour or longer (the longer it cooks, the deeper the flavors develop.)  This worked very well in the slow-cooker all day.


2 pings

  1. thehealthyapron says:

    You. Are. Brave. I have tried attempting to be healthy with family and they always turn their nose up. Maybe I just have to keep it simple and not try to wow them with recipes they might not have ever heard of. WHo knows. But go you!

    1. Elizabeth says:

      Well… wait for Parts II and III. The first night they really didn’t have much option ( I only offered whole wheat pasta and veggie marinara sauce). The next day they had a chance to get to the grocery store. :)

  1. Runner’s Knee + K-Tape » Run With Sneakers says:

    [...] « Feeding a Non-Vegan Crowd, Part I [...]

  2. Feeding a Non-Vegan Crowd – Part II » Run With Sneakers says:

    [...] back to how I managed to feed my hungry family of 14 over the holiday weekend.  First night was Vegan Spaghetti Night.  Next night was Make Your Own Pizza Night.  Here was my [...]

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