6 Build-Your-Own Recipes for groups

Outfitters, camps and caterers are all struggling with the growing challenges of accommodating a mix of dietary restrictions within the same group. Imagine a group of folks including gluten-free, vegetarian, lactose intolerant and rabid carnivores all sitting around the campfire awaiting dinner.

We’ve found time and time again that the “build your own” option (when time allows!) is the best way to make sure everyone is well-fed and happy. Build-Your-Own recipes tend to be buffet-style and are assembled by the eater. That way, the onus is put on the eater to find foods that they can safely and happily eat.

Getting the quantities right for each group can be the tricky part. Try turning on automatic substitutions in your Wholesum account to make this part easier.

In the meantime, here are 10 great recipe ideas that we’ve found can be crowd-pleasers and flexible enough to accommodate most needs:

1. Taco Bar

Taco bars are a staple of the camping world, and offer such a wide-range of flexibility that it can be hard to find folks that this option won’t work for. Some ingredients to consider to make sure the wide range of dietary restrictions on you:

  • Black beans – a great protein option for non-meat eaters
  • Faux Meat – There are lots of great Mexican-flavored plant-based meat options out there
  • Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) – This might fit under faux-meat, but is worth a shout-out on it’s own. TVP plus a little taco-seasoning can recreate ground beef easily and quickly
  • Corn Tortillas – You might want to bring wheat tortillas as well, but corn tortillas will help with the gluten sensitivities
  • Veggies – Lots of options, of course: greens, tomatoes, peppers…etc

2. DIY Sandwich Bar

There are tons of amazing Sandwich bar recipes out there on the internet. The trick, we’ve found, is to make sure to think broadly about what a sandwich might mean to those with restrictive diets (eg. a gluten-intolerant vegan). Your standard turkey sandwich won’t do the trick. Remember to include some of the less common ingredients that will create some creative options:

  • Guacamole – Great on sandwiches for just about everyone!
  • Hummus – An excellent vegan alternative to meat
  • PB & J – Not for everyone, but this is a standby for the less meat and veg oriented folks
  • Veggies – Throwing in some green peppers, shredded carrots or sprouts can add some diversity for vegetarians
  • Faux-cheese: Though not necessary for most vegans if enough veggies are available, there are plenty of sliced cheese substitutes out there

3. Build Your Own Kebabs

This one provides a bit less flexibility, particularly if the cooking surface is of concern, but it can be a great way to cook over a fire or a BBQ that allows the eater to choose what is on his/her Kebab. A variety of meats and grill-able veggies should do the trick. Some creative additions:

  • Pineapple
  • Tofu
  • Eggplant

4. Hot Cereal Bar

Breakfast options can be a bit tougher when it comes to build-your-own standards, but a hot cereal bar can go a long way. Oatmeal, for example, doesn’t usually contain gluten and can usually do the trick for most diets. Be sure to include a variety of toppings: fruit, raisins, nuts, brown sugar…etc

5. Hearty Salad Bar

The hearty salad idea isn’t too far off from the DIY Sandwich buffet, but allows for a lot more creativity. Check out some of these resources to get your ideas flowing:

7. Savory Hobo Pie

For those of you running camping-based trips a savory hobo-pie is always a hit for dinner. The idea is simple but the options are endless: Provide everyone with a few sheets of aluminum foil, create a buffet of meats, cheeses, veggies, grains and seasoning. Invite everyone to load their foil sheets with everything that they want, wrap it up and throw it in a bed of hot coals from the fire. Be sure to provide some vegetarian proteins (tofu, beans or faux-meat) and you’ll be all set to accommodate just about every restriction with one meal