I am on the food committee at our church, and often work in the kitchen for various activities. I struggle every year trying to find food or snack ideas for the kiddos during Vacation Bible School. We also feed our Wednesday night kids a snack each week during the school year, so this post is dedicated to those dear souls who are looking for something new to feed the starving heathens.
For perspective on numbers, on Wed. nights, we feed around 60 people – kids and workers. During VBS, we feed the workers beforehand each night (many are just getting off of work – feeding them is the least we can do!), plus we serve more substantial food for the kids too since many of them have not had supper. We normally average 100 to 120 kids/workers total.
If you have any additional ideas for food, I would dearly love to hear them.
- Popcorn – we use around 12 to 13 bags of microwave popcorn to feed 60 to 70 people. On Wed. nights, we scoop the popcorn into disposable bowls for the kids. For VBS, we use paper lunch sacks and roll down the tops (one staple in the middle will secure it). This makes it super easy to do ahead of time and pass out later.
- Trail mix – I sorta came up with this combination based on what the kids seemed to eat and enjoy most. You can use anything you like however. I use a combination of pretzels, goldfish crackers, and marshmallows mixed together in a large bowl. When serving, sprinkle a few M&Ms on top of each individual bowl (otherwise the M&Ms sink to the bottom – ask me how I know!).
- Sausage, cheese, and crackers – We like the Hillshire Farms Smoked Kielbasa best – sliced into fairly thin rounds, sliced American cheese (cut into fourths), and Ritz crackers. For 60 people or so, use 2 packages of the kielbasa along with a package of sliced cheese and a large box of Ritz. Be sure to have extra cheese and crackers available – some kids don’t like the sausage (but we have one little girl who says this is the best thing we make – LOL).
- Ice cream sundaes – large buckets of ice cream (a couple of them for Wed. nights, at least 4 buckets for VBS). Vanilla and chocolate seem to go over better than the strawberry or mixed flavors. Be sure to have a variety of toppings such as chocolate syrup, cherries, pineapple, caramel sauce, butterscotch sauce, M&Ms, whipped cream, etc. The 4 oz serving cups available at restaurant supply companies work great for this and are the perfect size.
- Teddy Grahams, animal crackers, and whipped topping - I take a couple of boxes of Teddy Grahams along with a large package of animal crackers and mix them together in a large bowl. You can either spoon the whipped topping onto a plate when you serve it, or use the small 2 oz serving cups (restaurant supply) to put the whipped topping in. Kids love to dip things! (It usually takes 2 LARGE tubs of whipped topping for this amount of crackers.)
- Pretzels and cheese sauce – We have had mixed reviews on this one, and don’t serve it often. The 2 oz serving cups work very well for the cheese sauce, and either the straight or traditional pretzels.
- Nachos – One large #10 can of cheese sauce mixed with one can of Rotel (not drained) (use a large crockpot), plus 4 bags or so of tortilla chips. Sam’s Club carries the plastic nacho trays which makes serving easier. For VBS, we sometimes have taco meat prepared on the side and available to serve over the nachos to make a more substantial snack. (Note: If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to let the crockpot heat the cheese dip, you can microwave the crock if it’s removeable.) During VBS, we can easily go through two cans of cheese and Rotel per night.
- S’mores – This is great on a cold winter’s night! For the Wed. night crowd, we use 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk (NOT Pet milk) mixed with 2 – (12 oz) packages of Hershey’s chocolate chips. Microwave and stir until smooth. It will make a thick, almost frosting-like consistency fudge. You will need 4 boxes of graham crackers and 3 or 4 containers of marshmallow cream also. Break a sheet of graham cracker in two so that you have two squares the same size, put a tablespoon of the fudge in the middle of one cracker (don’t spread it out) and a tablespoon of marshmallow cream on the other, then gently press them together (and will squish the chocolate and marshmallow out to the sides). It works best if you have an assembly line of sorts set up to do these. They can be made several hours ahead of time (which works great so that the chocolate can set up a bit more and will be less messy when eating). Very good served with hot chocolate!
- Pickles – dill and sweet. We normally buy the gallon jars of whole dill pickles and slice them into spears ourselves. The kids can go through a gallon on Wed. nights with no problem. During VBS (along with other snack items), a gallon a night still works well.
- Cookies – large packages of chocolate and vanilla cream filled cookies are big hits. One to two packages per night, depending on what else is served.
- Pudding cups – Sam’s Club has #10 cans of vanilla and chocolate pudding that are actually REALLY good! We use the 4 oz serving cups with enough pudding to fill a little more than half, then top with a dollop of whipped topping. If you have the lids to the cups, it is very easy to make these ahead of time and refrigerate. On Wed. nights, 2 – #10 cans (usually one of each flavor) and a couple tubs of topping will suffice. For VBS, 4 cans total along with 4 tubs of topping.
- Hot chocolate – We go through 2 gallons of hot cocoa plus some Kool-Aid on Wed. nights. If you’re using the individual serving packets, it takes around 24 packets to a gallon of water, plus a healthy dose of some non-dairy creamer (it makes the cocoa a bit richer tasting). Serve with mini-marshmallows.
- Kool-Aid – Every Wednesday night, we use 2 gallons of Kool-Aid, which equates to four packages, 4 cups of sugar, and enough water to fill a two gallon pitcher. We also serve plain ol’ water too.
Food to feed a crowd (besides snacks):
- Sloppy joes
- Hot dogs
- Macho Nachos (with meat, sour cream, etc.)
- Quesadillas (we do some with cheese only, and others with taco meat and cheese. Use a pizza cutter and slice into 6 pieces. Serve with a dipping sauce made from Ranch Dressing (Hidden Valley is best) and salsa – about half and half of each.)
- Mini- pizzas – made with cheap, canned biscuit dough, spaghetti sauce (Ragu works great), cheese, and pepperoni (optional). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, flatten a biscuit out with your fingers, top with a spoonful of sauce, top with cheese and pepperoni, and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so – just until the biscuits are cooked through and the cheese is melted.
- Little sandwiches - These go like hotcakes. The secret is to make them several hours ahead of time – it really does make a huge difference. For Wed. nights, I use 4 packages of hamburger buns, 2 packages each of Oscar Meyer smoked turkey breast and honey ham, a package of sliced American cheese, and some toothpicks. For each sandwich, use one slice each of ham, turkey, and cheese. Put four toothpicks into the top of the sandwich and slice between them cutting the sandwich into fourths (each piece like a slice of pie sort of). Put the sandwiches on a tray, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours. Double the amount listed above for a VBS crowd of 100.
- Sweet tea – The workers (and many of the kids) love a refreshing glass of sweet tea. My favorite brand (and I’ve done a side by side taste test of leading brands) is Luzianne De-Caf. I use two of the family size bags per gallon (for the stove top, add the tea bags to some water in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, remove from heat and allow to steep for 10 – 15 minutes). For each gallon of tea, use 1 1/2 cups of sugar. We could not keep tea made fast enough during our last VBS!