How do we share camping meal assigments
August 20, 2009 9:31 PM   Subscribe

Our group of 5 families, a total of 24 people, is going camping over Labor Day weekend. We are trying to figure out the best way to organize/share meal planning. We get there Friday afternoon and leave after breakfast on Monday. Any suggestions?
posted by ms_rasclark to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Assign each meal to a team of two or three cooks, who will plan, shop for, and prepare that meal. Assign any leftover people to beverages, snacks, and staples like coffee and milk. Afterwards a trip accountant collects receipts and figures out who owes who. We do it this way on rafting trips and it works very well. You end up with a ton of food, but it's easy to organize.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:48 PM on August 20, 2009

When you have well to do families it is easy, everyone takes a meal or so and no one worries about the inequities. Otherwise, buy all the food communally with everyone paying by number of family members, with some thought paid to little kids who might eat less. We have used 1/2 as a multiplier for all kids under puberty. Some people will be more interested in planning, cooking etc. and then the rest can clean, set tables etc. I have been here a lot and the key seems to be everyone willing to pitch in and everyone willing to recognize that not everyone will pull their own weight but that is OK. The money is the easy part, the work is often more difficult until you give up on being mad over the freeloaders. Really, don't let them spoil your fun. Ignore their lack of contribution. Sometimes they even acknowledge it and try to make it put by paying for drinks, dessert etc., but even if they don't the key to harmony is ignoring their slackishness, and in every group their will be slackers.
posted by caddis at 9:53 PM on August 20, 2009

Don't forget clean-up. Make sure that clean-up duty is assigned and rotated through the crowd. The people who plan the meal and cook should not have to worry about cleaning the pots and pans.
posted by peeedro at 9:57 PM on August 20, 2009

Everybody plan your own meals,
But cook them in the same place.
Eat together.

Good things will happen, both during
cooking and eating. And the planning
overhead will be as low as possible.
posted by the Real Dan at 9:57 PM on August 20, 2009

Individual families plan and cook their own breakfast and lunch. Suppers are communally planned/organized & executed. Huge pots for stews, soups and chili are great on/over the campfire and easy (even fun!) to tend while cooking. I grew up in a camping family & this is how our camping club organized meals.
posted by torquemaniac at 11:23 PM on August 20, 2009

First determine two things. Feasibility and preference. Are you car camping or canoeing to a destination? How much provision can you bring and what are the accomodations for cooking? Open fire? Barbecue? Coleman stoves? You need to know what types of foods everyone eats. Five families can get complicated. Are there vegetarians? No carb folks? Kids are picky too.

I would make breakfast a community one size fits all type meal. Eggs, cereal oatmeal, coffee, etc. Lunch should be a buffet of cold cuts, PB&J and other lunch type items that each individual can put together themselves. Dinner should be group meals with two entrees. Steak for anyone and offer a pasta alternative for the kids. Chicken one night with hot dogs for kids type things. Assign one family to do things like salads and another to do sides and appetizers.

Agree with the above posters about assigning specific tasks including cleanup. If someone does not want to cook or clean then let them buy their way out by purchasing more of the food or bringing the beer. For sure, assign clean up tasks. Don't forget drinks. For meals and alcohol.

Each family should also bring some of their own just in case items like cans of spaghetti-O's for the kids who won't eat, or snacks such as fruits, chips or what have you.

Lastly, remember it is only 3 days so being hungry is not the end of the world if a meal sucks.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:25 PM on August 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've done the meal-splitting-up a la ottereroticist. It worked wonderfully, everybody put energy into their one meal so that they were all very good.

However: we ended up with far, far too much food, since everybody bought enough so that there was no chance whatsoever that anybody could possibly go hungry at their one meal. In particular, we all brought our own salad-making stuff, and far too much of it. So: if there are elements which you expect to be common to many meals, like certain drinks or salads or something, you should consider assigning some people to just cover that thing for all the meals, or at least to shop for that thing for all the meals in common.
posted by wyzewoman at 5:13 AM on August 21, 2009

Create a sign-up sheet for each day that lists all the chores that need to be done. Have the number of chores be a multiple of the number of adults/teens on the trip. Perhaps have some token chores for the kids to do.

At the end of each day everyone has to sign up for X number of the next day’s chores. This way people can choose things they’re good at, the early risers can choose breakfast chores, etc.

Chores should be tasks such as:

Start the coffee
Breakfast prep
Breakfast cook
Breakfast clean-up
Buy / collect firewood
Refill ice in coolers
Refill water containers
Shop for fresh food.
General camp clean-up
Dinner prep
Dinner cook
Dinner clean up
Dispose of trash

Have more than one slot for most of these tasks so people can work together. Dividing prep from cooking allows people time to shower and clean up so they’re not stuck working on a meal for two hours.

With a sign up sheet if nobody is doing the dishes you can easily look to see who should be doing it and call them on it. If nobody signs up you can see who’s missing from the list. I’ve found this method works well and people are usually pretty good about doing their chores and not complaining if they’re doing dishes.

As for cooking, you can either have everyone agree to one family planning all the meals, with that family taking into account any food allergies or preferences, or you can have each family plan a meal or a day’s worth of meals. It might be easier to have one person do it though, so they can buy things like eggs and milk in bulk. Otherwise you have each family bringing two dozen eggs and at the end of the trip you have tons left over.

Bring a case of Kraft mac –n- cheese for kids who might be picky eaters.

Whoever plans the meals needs to provide some sort of direction to the people doing the prep/cooking, even if it’s just “Here are the stuff to make tacos. Go nuts.”

The last day of the trip is “leftover day”, where you just use up what’s left.

If you’re doing activities like hiking or biking during the day it would probably be easier to have families plan their own lunches and snacks. That way they can bring what they like.

People should be responsible for their own beverages. Otherwise people complain that they have to pay for beer they didn’t drink, etc.

All families bring their own plates, cups and utensils. Cooking gear should be brought by one or two people, or one person should coordinate it among the other families.

This all assumes you’ll be car camping. If you’re canoe camping or backpacking you can adapt somewhat, but there’s much more to consider.
posted by bondcliff at 6:11 AM on August 21, 2009

5 Families. Each family is responsible for a meal. The family that prepares Breakfast also prepares bagged lunches. Mon. breakfast is leftovers and maybe cold cereal.

1 Fri. Dinner
2 Sat. Breakfast
* Sat. Bagged lunches
3 Sat. Dinner
4 Sun. Breakfast
* Sun. Bagged lunches
5 Sun. Dinner
* Mon. Breakfast

When we did this, we planned our meals and made a shopping list. We shopped when we arrived, and shared the costs. Meals should be portion-controlled since keeping food safe is a concern. Last time I camped with other families, my sister was dreading dishwashing, but realized that it's fun to do camp dishwashing outside, with other people.

Hiking, swimming, canoeing, etc., made everyone hungry, which made everyone especially appreciative of the food. Do spend a little time finding out about major food issues.

Before you go, freeze a bunch of clean soda bottles partially full of water. Squeeze them before you put on the lid; water expands when frozen. Use these to keep the cooler cold, as they melt, take them on hiking trips, etc.
posted by theora55 at 6:47 AM on August 21, 2009

Wow- a lot of suggestions but some seem really elaborate. We do this every year-20-30 people, and it goes very smoothly with minimal work on my part as the half-assed organizer. I guess it depends on your group-we've mainly known each other for a long time and there is trust in the group. I don't think anyone ends up feeling screwed over.

Basically, each family unit picks a dinner or breakfast for the group. I match the single people with others, and they'll do a meal. Once everyone has their meal, they can cook whatever they want. It's usually simple and inexpensive, but not always. If they are broke, eggs and pancakes are super cheap. Everyone brings snacks and drinks to share. If they don't drink beer, they don't bring beer. You get the picture. Lunch is on your own, theoretically, but is usually leftovers. Everyone also does clean up for one meal they didn't cook. Late arrivals bring extra ice for the group. Everyone brings water to share.

It's really simple, and avoids big lists and charts, which wouldn't work for me when camping. YMMV. Oh, and in 6 years we've never had a freeloader- if we did, I guess we wouldn't invite them back.
posted by purenitrous at 7:40 AM on August 21, 2009

« Older Know any good music covers I should hear?   |   What are some interesting wedding anniversary... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.