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Cooking for a missions trip
I am heading up the food part of a missions trip this summer. Right now I am trying to get a good handle on the price we will need to charge the teens. We are looking at 60 to 70 people (10 adults and the rest teens). We will be staying in a hotel with breakfast available. We will need to do box lunches (that we will put together the night before) for lunch every day. We do have a couple of vegetarians in the group. My plan for lunch is to prepare a couple of different sandwiches and wrap them to keep them cold. Then we will just have chips, fruit, prepped veggies, cookies and water that they will choose from. There will be a Sam's pretty close to where we are and so I plan to hang out there often. We will have a kitchen available for evening use. I will only have about 1 and a half hours to prepare dinner every night (along with a group of helpers). I will be leaning on prepared stuff pretty much. My beginning ideas are:
-chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, raw vegetables with dip, brownies
-spaghetti with optional meatballs, salad, bread sticks, pound cake with strawberries
-taco salad where they put their own items in the salad, cookies
-ham, hashbrown casserole, green beans, puddings
-pizza from anywhere!
What I am trying to determine is if I can do this on $40 a person. What do you think?
I will also need to be providing beverages. I am thinking lemonade and tea for most meals. Water bottles for lunch (most likely 2 a day).
You don't say where you are going, how many days you are covering or what kind of work the teens will be doing, it matters. $10 per person per day is kind of bare minimum unless you and they decided to eat very lean and save the money for part of the offering.

You need some vegetables at supper, as well as some fruits at lunch.

Consider roast chicken leg quarters instead of nuggets, cheaper and better. See the basic budget entrees section in Big Pots, these are cheap, and most can be done in 2 hours with planning. Some are vegetarian.

See the oven rice pilaf or any of the rice for 100 recipes and make half. Easy and filling.

Water in the big igloo coolers you see on worksites is a real savings over bottled and you can keep it very cold- put a bag of ice in, pour the water over. A nonbreakable plastic cup with a name on it in permanent marker could even be a souvenir.

Pizza is much cheaper to make, you have a kitchen, don't order out.

You don't say if you will have refrigeration overnight and the following morning for the lunches. You can't make sandwiches the night before and leave them out.before and

We are going to Cleveland Ohio.
We will be there 5 days.
The work they will be doing is 1)a basketball camp in the morning with children and 2) a vacation Bible school program in the evening with another group of children. Not too much physical work.
I do have 3 5 gallon water coolers at my disposal. I will do the water in the coolers and put names on cups. How do you keep them separate? 70 cups will be hard to go through. I will have the washed every night, but do you do alphabetical order or what?
I am not sure I will be able to do pizza for 70 in a couple of hours. I do not know about oven space. At our church, we have 6 oven racks available and I could do it, but what if there is only a regular kitchen oven?
We will have to put the sandwiches in coolers overnight. We will be staying in a hotel and going to one work site in the day then to the site with the kitchen in the afternoon to cook, eat and do another service project. We have several large coolers available.
I am hoping to have some overnight refrigetator space, otherwise I will be going to the grocery every day. That is a bummer.
I have been talking with the teens about vegetables. Most are saying they hate almost all cooked vegetables. My own teens only like raw vegetables and salad. So, my plan is to have that type of stuff available at every dinner.
I did plan on apples and bananas for lunch, plus strawberries one night for dessert.
I know this is crazy, but several teens said they do not eat chicken on bones!! That is why I went with nuggets. I thought that would be cheaper than boneless breast, but I will look into boneless thighs. With the amount of time I have, I do not think I will be able to bone that much chicken.
In Texas, boneless chicken thighs are sold very cheaply as chicken fajita meat, in large frozen packages.

Too bad you can't just put the cups on strings and hang around their necks. Alphabetical sounds very practical.

Contact the hotel kitchen about borrowig walk-in cooler space overnight.

SAMS has a well priced bake it yourself fresh pizza which might be doable- not frozen, so they bake faster.

String cheese sticks, individual packages, can be carried for lunches and are not so fussy about refrigeration.

Remember that coolers only cool if they have been pre-iced and cooled, and if you keep the lids on.

Can anyone help?
I am going to Guadalupe, Mexico in THREE WEEks for work at an orphanage. There will be 30 of us - junior and senior highschoolers and 7 adults. I have to plan all the meals. 5 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 5 dinners. We have two refrigerators and one freezer and a fully equiped kitchen. We are flying into El Paso, Texas and I was told that I need to pre-order everything (including all papergoods, dishwashing soap, etc) before we leave Maryland and pick it up on our way to Guadalupe. We have a $5.00 per meal, per person budget which includes water. I am at a loss. I am trying to find menues or even shopping lists. Can you help? Thanks so much
First, see if you can find and talk to someone who has done this job before- if not from your church, from another that has been to this mission. Find out if you will have safe fresh dairy. Start a notebook so the next poor person that has to do this is not in the same state you are.

Second, learn about using clorox/chlorine bleach in dishwater to prep fruits and vegetables and disinfect dishes, pots and pans. If you are not going to use paper and plastic every meal, which would be a horrible waste, find out about the dishes and dishwashing arrangements. You might consider having people have and keep their own melmac plate cup and dinnerware (marked with their name in indelible marker), which they wash themselves in the cloroxed water at the end of each meal- campfire style.

Third, find out what you can/will be getting market fresh, so you know what you will need to order. It would be odd to go to Mexico and take everything canned.

That said, you have to decide about things like using powdered eggs and dried milk for cooking and baking, as the shipping cost for the goods could be massive. Get dry soap powder for dishes, cheaper to ship and less volume.

Find out who is supplying/ bringing the first aid kit. You need one, along with a fire extinguisher, in the kitchen, and if there is not one stocked you need to bring it.

The budget will go further if you can buy some things locally. The meals themselves are the simplest part but you need some answers first.

Any food allergies or medical conditions in the group you need to plan around (diabetes,celiac disease, etc)? Will the group be eating separately from the orphanage? What about lunch, do they come back or do you have to pack it? Will you have any helpers, or do you have to do al the cooking yourself? Where will you be ordering from in El Paso and how will the stuff get from El Paso to the mission?

All these answers will affect your plan, write back.

I just wanted to give an update. We ended up sleeping in a church. So, I had kitchen access at all times. There were 39 people on the trip (5 adults and mostly older teens). I fixed 16 meals over the week.
Here is what we had to eat
Breakfasts- 1 cereal and fruit, 2 sausage gravy and biscuits with orange slices, 3 scrambled eggs, sausage links, toast and fruit cocktail, 4 french toast, sausage patties, and applesauce, 5 bagels and muffins with bananas and apples, and 6 leftovers.
Lunches- every day we had raw vegetables and dip and chips, plus a fruit bowl that over the week went through about 40 pounds of furit.
1 hot shredded chicken sandwiches and little debbies, 2 lunchmeat sandwiches and popsicles, 3 hot dogs or meatball subs (leftover meatballs)and jello, 4 grilled cheese and tomato soup and dirt pudding, 5 sandwiches and ice cream bars.
1 tacos, rice and beans
2 spaghetti and meatballs, salad, bread sticks
3 bbq pork, mac and cheese, salad
4 creative leftovers ( i made a casserole with the leftover rice and chicken sandwich filling, plus we had leftover taco meat, bbq pork, I steamed carrots and broccoli and made a cheese sauce, we had jello leftover ) I actually think this was the best meal of the week.
5 due to time constrictions, we ordered pizza from a local place (it was $5 a large pizza)
Since the teens were walking and going door after dinner, I saved their desserts until they came back.
1 brownies with whipped cream
2 pound cake with strawberries
3 rootbeer floats
4 watermelon slices
5 ice cream bars
It was very hot that week and cold desserts were the best bet.
There was a Sam's within 10 minutes of the church. I visited it 3 times in the week.
Antoher church had been working at the church we stayed at the week before. I did have access to the leftovers from them. They left about 15 cases of water. We also had 4 5 gallon jugs that we filled daily for basketball camp. Someone donated cone cups for that. The kids did not have pop until Friday night pizza. Mostly they just drank water. I also had juice available for breakfast.
The final total for the week was about $27 a person. That was well below my hoped for $40. We did have access to chips and water and pop left from the church group before us. Even if I had to buy those items, I think I would have made it on the $40.
It was a good week and I did not have many compaints (mostly about pop) and most of the teens were very happy about the food. We had peanut butter and jelly available for those who needed to eat it. A few girls had pb and j several time. Their loss.
Thanks for the suggestions.
WOW, I LOVE it when a reader takes the time to make this kind of feedback. Thanks so much for the effort, you made my day.
We(about 30,. teens & adults) are going to Tecate Mexico with our church to build homes.
We will be camping with no electricity or running water. I would appreciate any suggestions. We are cost sensitive and would like to hold our cost down to about $5.00 per meal. During the week we will need to prepare 5 dinners, 4 sack lunches, 5 breakfasts and snacks for after work but before dinner. We will be taking all of our food with us. I would like to do as much cooking and preperation ahead of time as possible to cut down on meal preperation time in Mexico. We are planning on taking 2 bbq grills, coleman stoves, do have steam trays if anyone thinks they could be useful. We will be taking all of our water with us. Thank You in advance for your help. Melanie
You should treat this like a camping trip in terms of menu planning- for example, dried fruits instead of canned for snacks and desserts, dried nonfat milk (don't forget to add in the extra water). You need to know that a gallon of water per day per person is not too much- don't skimp on this. Can you use the ideas from the trip above?

You can't do any cooking ahead, except maybe make granola, but you can do mixes in the correct size for various meals, such as my better baking mix packaged for pancakes, biscuits, etc.

Do consider buying some food locally. Fruit can be washed in the clorox/water disinfecting mix to make it perfectly safe for eating.

You need about 2200 calories per day for smaller people and about 3000 for anyone doing physical work. Use this number to cross check your quantities.
Steam trays aren't useful if you can't plug them in, and with thirty people, you don't need them.

This ghiker's site will help you: