Family reunions take a lot of planning, and a giant part of that is the food.
Should you have it catered or hold a potluck dinner? Make all the dishes yourself or get a group of family members to help? How much food should you have at your family reunion and how much should you set aside in your budget for food? The first step you may want to take is choosing a theme for your food. Here are some ideas to help you decide what type of food you want at your family reunion.
Food Ideas for a Family Gathering
Family reunions are a great time to enjoy delicious food together. Here are some food ideas that can cater to a variety of tastes and dietary preferences:
- BBQ Extravaganza:
- Grilled burgers, hotdogs, sausages, and chicken.
- Ribs, brisket, and pulled pork.
- Corn on the cob, baked beans, coleslaw, and potato salad.
- BBQ sauce variations to suit different preferences.
- Picnic-Style Delights:
- Sandwiches and wraps with various fillings (turkey, ham, roast beef, vegetarian options).
- Fruit platters with a variety of fresh fruits.
- Pasta salad, green salads, and vegetable crudités.
- Assorted cheese and crackers.
- International Cuisine Buffet:
- Taco bar with various toppings and fillings.
- Pasta station with different sauces and toppings.
- Sushi rolls and sashimi platters.
- Mediterranean spread with hummus, pita, falafel, and olives.
- Potluck Fiesta:
- Have each family member contribute their signature dish.
- This adds variety and showcases everyone’s culinary skills.
- Coordinate dishes to avoid duplicates and ensure a balanced menu.
- Comfort Food Classics:
- Macaroni and cheese.
- Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy.
- Fried chicken with biscuits.
- Homemade casseroles (lasagna, shepherd’s pie, etc.).
- Healthy and Fresh Choices:
- Grilled vegetable skewers.
- Quinoa salad with nuts, dried fruits, and vinaigrette.
- Grilled fish with citrus salsa.
- Yogurt parfaits with granola and fresh berries.
- Dessert Delights:
- Ice cream sundae bar with various toppings.
- Cupcakes, cookies, and brownies.
- Fresh fruit platters.
- Pie and cake options for variety.
- Beverage Station:
- Lemonade, iced tea, and fruit-infused water.
- Coffee and tea for after-meal relaxation.
- Non-alcoholic mocktails for a refreshing twist.
- Kids’ Corner:
- Mini sliders, chicken tenders, and mini pizzas.
- Vegetable sticks with dipping sauces.
- Mini fruit skewers or fruit cups.
- Mini dessert bites (cookies, mini cupcakes, etc.).
- Interactive Cooking Activities:
- Pizza-making station with various toppings.
- DIY taco or burrito assembly.
- Build-your-own pasta dish with assorted sauces and ingredients.
Remember to consider dietary restrictions and allergies of your family members when planning the menu. The goal is to provide a diverse range of options that cater to everyone’s tastes and preferences.
Holding a family reunion potluck
Holding a family reunion potluck style meal is a great way not only to save on the food budget, but to have variety. Everyone has a different cooking style and recipes vary from family to family. Aunt Jean’s potato salad may have onion, Aunt Pat’s may not.
If you are worried that you may end up with too little of one thing or too much of another, ask your family members to bring something from a category. A simple and sweet phone call to Uncle Jim to ask him to bring a meat or Aunt Betty to bring a dessert will give you an idea of what foods your family will be bringing.
Just remember to keep a list of what everyone has agreed to bring so when you are asked “Hey, what can I bring?” you will have an answer.
Recipes for summer family reunions
Summertime and the heat can affect what you make or bring to a family reunion.
You don’t want to feed your family chili or soup when it’s 90 degrees outside. Burgers on the grill, sandwiches and finger foods are always a great summertime meal whether its 70 degrees or 100.
And what is a summertime cookout without potato salad?
Southern Potato Salad
- 2 1/2 pounds red or Yukon Gold potatoes peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
- 1 small onion finely chopped (Optional)
- 2 celery stalks finely chopped (Optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Paprika for garnish
- Fresh parsley chopped, for garnish (optional)
- Boil the Potatoes: Place the potato cubes in a large pot of cold salted water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes until they are fork-tender but still hold their shape, about 10-15 minutes. Drain and let them cool slightly.
- Hard-Boil the Eggs: In a separate pot, place the eggs and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain the hot water and transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool. Once cooled, peel the eggs and chop them.
- Prepare the Dressing: In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, yellow mustard, and sweet pickle relish. This will form the base of the dressing.
- Combine Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked and slightly cooled potatoes. Gently fold in the chopped eggs, chopped onion, and chopped celery.
- Add Dressing: Pour the dressing mixture over the potatoes and gently toss until the potatoes are evenly coated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the amount of dressing according to your preference.
- Chill and Serve: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the potato salad for at least a few hours, or ideally overnight. This allows the flavors to meld together.
- Garnish: Before serving, sprinkle paprika over the top of the potato salad for color and flavor. You can also add chopped fresh parsley for a fresh touch.
- Serve: Serve the Southern potato salad as a side dish alongside grilled meats, fried chicken, or other Southern-style dishes.
- 4 Teaspoons Red wine vinegar
- 1/4 Cup Sugar
- 1/4 Teaspoon Dry mustard powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Cup Mayo
- 6-8 Cups Finely shredded cabbage
- 1/4 Cup Grated Carrots
- Grate a head of cabbage. I use the grater attachment to my stand mixer, but you can also use a cheese grater if you have the patience.
- Grate 1/4 cup of carrots.
- Mix together the vinegar, sugar, mustard powder, salt, and mayo. This is your dressing.
- In a large bowl, add your cabbage, carrots, and dressing, then mix together well.
Family reunion recipes that travel well
Have quite a few miles to go to get to your family reunion?
Unless you are packing a cooler, you will want to make a dish that doesn’t need refrigeration. Why not a dessert?
Catherine’s Cake Brownies
- 1 ½ cups White Sugar
- 1 ½ Cups Self-Rising Flour
- 3 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
- 3 Whole Eggs
- 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1 ½ Teaspoons Vanilla
- ½ cup Pecans or Walnuts Optional
- Preheat Oven to 325 degrees.
- Mix all ingredients together using a mixer, then pour the batter into a 9 x 13 inch pan.
- The batter will be thick so you may need to use a spatula to spread it out or bang it on the counter top to settle it evenly in the pan.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until it passes the tooth pick test. (Poke it in the center with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, they are done!)
A Simple Trail Mix
- 1 cup nuts such as peanuts, almonds, cashews, or walnuts
- 1 cup dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, or apricots
- 1 cup whole-grain cereal such as oats or puffed rice. Cheerios or Chex would be great here.
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chocolate candy pieces like M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces optional
- 1/2 cup seeds such as pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon salt optional
- Prepare the Ingredients: If you’re using larger nuts like almonds or walnuts, consider chopping them into smaller pieces for easier snacking.
- Mix It Up: In a large bowl, combine the nuts, dried fruit, whole-grain cereal, chocolate chips (if using), and seeds. Toss them together to distribute the ingredients evenly.
- Add a Touch of Salt: If desired, sprinkle a small amount of salt over the mixture and give it a gentle stir. The salt can enhance the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Store and Serve: Transfer the trail mix to airtight containers or resealable bags. Be sure to seal them tightly to keep the mix fresh and prevent any moisture from getting in.
- Customize: Feel free to customize the trail mix by adding other ingredients like coconut flakes, pretzels, yogurt-covered raisins, or different types of nuts and seeds. Adjust the quantities to suit your taste.
- Portion Control: To make it easy for guests to grab and enjoy, consider portioning the trail mix into individual snack-sized bags.
Southern family reunion recipes
Southern family reunions are a cherished tradition, bringing generations together to share not only laughter and stories but also a feast of mouthwatering dishes that reflect the heart and soul of Southern cooking. These recipes, handed down through generations, not only satisfy appetites but also nurture the bonds that make Southern family gatherings truly unforgettable.
Southern Deviled Eggs
- 6 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoon yellow mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Paprika for garnish
- Fresh chives or parsley chopped, for garnish (optional)
- Hard-Boil the Eggs: Place the eggs in a pot on the stove and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and continue to boil for 13 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool. Once cooled, peel the eggs.
- Cut and Prepare Eggs: Cut the peeled eggs in half lengthwise. Carefully remove the yolks and place them in a bowl. Arrange the egg white halves on a serving platter.
- Make the Filling: Press the egg yolks against the side of the bowl with the back of a fork until they are crumbly. Add mayonnaise and yellow mustard to the mashed yolks. Mix well until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Season: Season the filling with salt and pepper to taste. The amount of salt and pepper can be adjusted based on your preferences.
- Fill the Egg Whites: Fill either a piping bag or food storage bag with the yolk filling. Cut off the tip and squeeze filling into the well on your egg white half. This can also be done with a star cake decorating tip if you want to make it a little fancy, or you can just fill them with a spoon if you want the easy approach to filling the eggs.
- Garnish: Sprinkle paprika over the filled deviled eggs for both color and flavor. You can also garnish with chopped fresh chives or parsley for added freshness.
- Chill and Serve: Cover the deviled eggs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Chilling allows the flavors to meld and the eggs to set.
- Serve: Arrange the chilled deviled eggs on a serving platter and present them to your guests as a delightful appetizer.
Crockpot recipes for family reunions
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- 4-5 pounds pork shoulder also known as pork butt, bone-in or boneless
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper adjust for spiciness
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 cup barbecue sauce plus extra for serving
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or water
- Optional: hamburger buns or rolls for serving
- Prepare the Pork: In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper to create the dry rub.
- Rub the Pork: Rub the dry rub mixture all over the pork shoulder, ensuring it’s evenly coated.
- Slow Cooker Setup: Place the seasoned pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Pour in the chicken broth or water around the pork. The liquid helps create steam and keeps the meat moist during cooking.
- Slow Cooking: Cover the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 8 to 10 hours or until the pork is tender and easily pulls apart with a fork. Cooking times may vary based on your slow cooker model and the size of the pork.
- Shred the Pork: Once the pork is cooked, carefully remove it from the slow cooker and place it on a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the meat, discarding any bones, fat, or excess liquid.
- Add Barbecue Sauce: In a separate bowl, mix the shredded pork with the barbecue sauce until the meat is well coated. You can adjust the amount of sauce to your preference.
- Warm the Pork: Return the sauced pork to the slow cooker and set it on the “warm” or “low” setting for an additional 20-30 minutes to let the flavors meld further.
- Serve: Serve the pulled pork on hamburger buns or rolls, topped with additional barbecue sauce if desired. Coleslaw makes a great topping for added texture and flavor.
- Enjoy: Your slow cooker pulled pork is now ready to enjoy. Serve it as a main dish at your family reunion or any gathering.
To make this Slow Cooker Pulled Pork into a meal, serve it as a sandwich on a bun or roll with a side of coleslaw and potato salad or chips.
Family reunion lunch ideas
A great summertime lunch idea is a “build your own sub sandwich” bar. Organize a table that starts with a few types of sandwich breads or rolls and then offer a variety of different meats, veggies and condiments. Your family will be able to make the sandwich they want to eat and it’s less work for you. Offer sides of chips, pasta or potato salads, and desserts and your meal is complete. The best part of this meal is you won’t have any last-minute cooking as it can all be prepped in advance.
Family reunion recipe ideas
Every family has recipes that have been passed down through the generations. I, myself have received many phone calls over the years asking for my mom’s recipes. When going to your family reunion, or even planning one, make a few copies of your favorite recipes to share. If you are planning a reunion, you could suggest to your family in advance that you will hold a recipe swap so everyone has a chance get in on the action.
Family reunion recipe books
If your family has a lot of cooks and bakers like mine, a family reunion recipe book is a fun idea to get all the family favorite recipes in one place. You could even make one and have it published as a fund raising for your next family reunion.
Now go get cooking!
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