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Food for thought: Group cooking on vacation

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 12, 2014 at 4:38 pm •  Published: February 12, 2014

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — It can be a recipe for disaster: renting a vacation house with friends without talking about meal planning.

There are obvious topics, like allergies, budgeting, finicky kids and division of labor.

And then there are those unappetizing issues, like what to do if one participant is a reluctant — or rotten — cook.

"I don't do anything domestically ever," said David Lando, a financial adviser in Washington, D.C.

So when his large family gathers for their annual vacation at a house in upstate New York, everyone picks a night to cook — except Lando.

When it's his turn, he gets takeout.

"The last couple of years the grocery store near our place has run a special on (prepared) lobster," he said. "It works out so well that it's hard to argue about it."

Not every group trip goes so smoothly, however.

Alyson Stoakley, of suburban Richmond, Va., used to be an event planner, so when she and her husband went to Wintergreen Resort with four other couples, she took charge of divvy up the cooking and cleaning for the weekend.

She asked for volunteers for appetizers, dinners and breakfasts. (Lunches were eaten out.) The problems began immediately.

There were too many volunteers for the dinners, and two of them were complete opposites: One was known for quick and easy comfort food, the other for making fabulous health-conscious meals from scratch.

Stoakley made the assignments in the order people responded, and so ended up dining on Stouffer's lasagna, Texas toast and romaine lettuce from a bag.

And the gourmet cook? She made Saturday's breakfast, cooking two egg casseroles, one with sausage and one with vegetables.

As it turned out, that plentiful meal not only gave people a choice, but the leftovers saved them on Sunday when that meal's chef realized she had only bagels, having forgotten the eggs and left the bacon unrefrigerated in her shopping bag all weekend.

Despite the gastronomic goofs, by taking it all in stride, "We really had a good weekend," Stoakley said. "It didn't ruin the friendships and we all made it through."

To help things go smoothly, consider these tips:

—Pick one person as the coordinator who can find out what staples the vacation rental provides, compile shopping lists, collect money or make dinner reservations. Consider rewarding the coordinator with a pass on cooking or cleaning.

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