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?
Some of my best childhood memories are of the foods we had at family reunions. No, not because I was a starving child, but because of the variety of different foods we would have. Food not only nourishes us but gives a something to center around for conversation and spending time together. And a variety of different foods makes sure there is a little something for everyone.
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 large family gatherings
The recipes you use to feed large groups for a family reunion depend on several factors. Is it a sit down dinner? How many people will you be feeding? How far in advance can you prep the food? Do you have access to cooking facilities at the family reunion site?
This recipe is great for feeding the masses and can be created in advance and reheated or made on site.
Pizza Pasta Bake
A giant thanks to Spend with Pennies for this great pasta recipe.
Makes a 9 x 13 inch pan and feeds roughly 8-10 people a dinner sized portion.
- 12 oz uncooked medium pasta I used cavatappi but penne & rotini are also good choices
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1/2 pound italian sausage mild or hot, bulk or removed from casings
- 1/2 pound lean ground beef
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 red pepper diced
- 1/2 green pepper diced
- 1 can 14 oz diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 4 cups pasta sauce
- 2-3 cups mozzarella cheese
- 28 slices pizza pepperoni
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook pasta according el dente to package directions. Rinse under cold water and drain well.
- Brown onion, garlic, sausage and beef in a large pan over medium heat. Drain any fat. Add in red and green peppers and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Add oregano, drained tomatoes and pasta sauce, stir well.
- Place pasta in a greased 9×13 pan. Pour meat sauce over pasta and top with cheese and pepperoni slices.
- Bake 35-40 minutes uncovered or until cheese is melted and pasta is heated through.
- Serve with a salad and bread sticks.
Note: It’s a good idea to make a pan or 2 of this without the Italian sausage and pepperoni for anyone who does not like a little spice. Just take the recipe above, omit the sausage, double the ground beef, and leave out the pepperoni.
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?
All-American Potato Salad
A great big thanks to Jessica Gavin for this amazing potato salad recipe.
- 2 pounds russet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, for cooking potatoes
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 cup celery, 1/8-inch dice
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup dill pickle relish
- 2 tablespoons red onions, 1/8-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard, or yellow mustard
- 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 hard boiled eggs, diced into 1/4″cubes
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into 3/4-inch dice. Immediately place them in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1 inch.
- Boil water over medium-high heat.
- Add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and simmer. Stir a few times, until potatoes are fork tender, about 8 minutes.
- Drain potatoes and transfer back to the pot.
- Add vinegar and use a rubber spatula to toss gently to combine. Let stand for 20 minutes, the potatoes will still be warm.
- In a large bowl, gently stir together potatoes, celery, mayonnaise, relish, onion, parsley, mustard, ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, onion powder and chopped eggs. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour before serving. Garnish with more parsley, celery, and onion if desired.
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? My mom’s brownie recipe has been my go to for any large event where a snack was required.
Catherine’s Cake Brownies
- 1 ½ cups White Sugar
- 1 ½ Cups Self-Rising Flour
- 3 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
- 3 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!)
Southern family reunion recipes
I think there is some unwritten rule that says, every southern family reunion is required by law to have deviled eggs. Every single reunion I have ever attended has had them and since I don’t want to go to southern jail, here is an easy deviled egg recipe that will make any crowd happy.
Southern Deviled Eggs
This recipe come from Stacey Little at Southern Bite.
- 6 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
- 2 dashes vinegar-based hot sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic power
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pickle relish sweet or dill
- paprika optional
- For easy-to-peel eggs, steam them rather than boiling them. To do so, add about 1/2 inch of water to the bottom of a medium-sized saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add a steamer basket if you have one, but it’s not necessary.
- Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat off. Carefully add the eggs to the basket or just to the bottom of the pan.
- Cover and return to a boil. Steam for 12 to 15 minutes. To check the doneness, you might add an extra egg and check it at 12 minutes to judge the cook time.
- Once cooked, place the eggs in an ice bath until they are completely cool.
- Peel the eggs and slice them in half lengthwise.
- Carefully scoop out the yolk and place them in a small bowl.
- Use a fork to mash up the yolks.
- Add the mayo, mustard, hot sauce, and garlic powder.
- Mix until smooth.
- Add the pickle relish.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the mixture equally back into the whites.
Crockpot recipes for family reunions
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
This tasty recipe comes to us from the Slow Cooker Gourmet.
This recipe makes about 12 servings. If you are making it for a large group, you can make this in advance and freeze it for up to 3 months.
- 4 pound pork shoulder
- 2 tablespoons paprika (try smoked paprika for more of that smoked flavor)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup water
- Mix together all of the dried spices and rub into all sides of the pork
- Place vinegar and water in bottom of slow cooker
- Carefully add pork (so you don’t wash off spices)
- Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours
- Remove pork and shred (remove any large fatty pieces and discard)
- Add juices from slow cooker as desired
Tip 1: Save a bit of seasoning and toss it with cooked pulled pork to add extra kick (but just a tad, you don’t want to ruin the delicious flavors of the meat!)
Tip 2: If you want brown crispy ends you can put shredded meat on foil lined baking sheet and broil for a couple of minutes in the oven (watch carefully!)
IDEA: To make this recipe a meal, serve it as a sandwich on a bun 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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