It is one thing to stick to a food budget for a family of two or three or four. It can be much more complicated and expensive when you have a food budget for six or eight or more people. Here are tips for meals for large families plus dirt cheap meal ideas (that your kids will love!).
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Meals For a Large Family
Since I have exactly one child, I am not exactly qualified to write from personal experience about meals for large families, so I got my friend who has a team of kids to help out.
Here are her awesome tips to make dirt cheap meals for large families, plus meal ideas for large families.
Related reading: HelloFresh Review: From Skeptic to Freshfan in Just 3 Meals
8 Tips for Meals for Large Families
A family of three is rather small and it just takes a minute to plan for them but when you have six people it takes a bit longer to plan a week’s worth of meals. When most people think of meals they think of meat, vegetables and desserts. So we’ll use that as a basic guide.
Let’s jump in to 8 tips for dirt cheap meals for large families!
1. Change the Frequency
When it comes to planning meals on a budget you have to be careful. Just because you have to limit the amount you spend on groceries doesn’t mean that you can’t have the foods you enjoy. You may just have to decide that these things are going to be treats instead of a day to day item on the menu.
Related reading: 7-day Family Meal Plan That Will Set You Up with Healthy Eats
2. Watch Portion Sizes of Meals for Large Families
If you are on a food budget, it’s a good idea to have portions in order to make sure everyone eats.
We all know how giant restaurant portions are – we don’t need to make our meals that huge at home either.
Having reasonable portion sizes, especially when you’re making meals for a large family, has a double win: it saves money, and helps you not overeat.
Related reading: 16 Genius Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget You Need to Know
3. Menu Plan for Meals for a Large Family
Whether you have three meals a day as a family or just one you still have to buy for all three of the meals during the day.
While you may not be able to get an exact menu for each meal you can get a rough idea.
Limiting the foods that only one or two members of the family will eat, and avoiding the frozen prepared food section of the store will help you to stay within your budget.
This everything-in-one family meal planner is a really easy way to save you money on food, and keep the stress out of mealtimes. There are tons of tips on how to set up your meal plan, 40 recipe ideas to get you started, plus all the lists you need for your kitchen (grocery list, freezer inventory, monthly meal plan, weekly meal plan, lots more!). Check out the meal planner here.
Related reading: Money Saving Meal Plan to Slash Your Grocery Budget
4. Back to Basics
There are some foods that can be made from scratch and frozen to cook later such as biscuits and dumplings.
When you make a biscuit mix you can make extra and freeze them to put in the oven when you’re making a meal later in the week.
There are a lot of things that you can double or triple the recipe for in order to have meals later into the week and it’s easy to fit them into your budget.
Related reading: How to Save Money on Groceries (Even During the Pandemic)
5. Look at Packaging to Save Money on Meals for Large Families
When you go grocery shopping remember that the large family sizes are usually cheaper than the individual serving sizes that you purchase.
Keeping this in mind when you purchase your meats for the week will go a long way in ensuring meals are planned on a budget.
It works out better to buy large packages of things such as pork chops and hamburger than to buy the small convenience sizes.
Once you get home you can portion them out into several meals for the week or even the month depending on the size of the package.
Related reading: 5 Borderline Genius Ideas For Stocking The Pantry On a Budget
6. Focus on Vegetables
Vegetables are usually cheaper frozen unless you have a local farmer’s market.
Fresh vegetables can be gotten at the local farmers market at a lot lower costs than most grocery stores.
Making meals for large families of just vegetables every now and then can save you more money.
When you limit the meals and some of the snacks to vegetables you’re saving money by not having the expense of the meat.
7. Compare Pricing Before You Shop for Meals for a Large Family
Check your local store flyers to compare the prices before you go shopping. This will help you find the lowest prices before you leave the house.
You can gather coupons to match the sales. Taking advantage of double coupon days in combination with the sales will save you more money on meals for large families.
8. What About Leftovers of Meals for Large Families
Don’t be afraid to eat leftovers.
If you have a meal for dinner one night it doesn’t mean that you can’t have it for lunch the next day too.
There are some leftovers such as chicken, rice or potatoes that can be incorporated into new meals for the family. This will save you time and effort.
There are a dozen things that you can do to ensure you’re not skipping meals and still feed a large family on a budget.
Related reading: How to Spend Less Money in a Tough Economy
Dirt Cheap Meals for Large Families
Here is a list of meal ideas for large families that are cheap to make and yummy to eat:
- Grilled cheese sandwiches
- Tuna melts
- Rice and beans with garlic/onions/soy sauce/vegetables
- Scrambled eggs with ham, cheese, and red pepper
- Vegetarian or meat chili
- Vegetarian lasagna or meat lasagna
- Macaroni and cheese
- Meals using canned chicken
- French toast with fruit and yogurt
- Sheet pan roasted chicken thighs, potatoes, and carrots
- Mushroom and spinach omelet
- Spaghetti with tomato sauce (hey don’t knock it, kids love it)
- Chicken noodle soup
- Rice with frozen vegetables and ground beef
Another food staple that can go a long way in meals for large families is bread. Here are my absolute favorite bread recipes (they are all easy, all no-knead, and all cheap):
- Faster no-knead homemade bread
- Homemade cheese bread
- Cinnamon raisin bread with pecans
- Easy no-knead focaccia
- Whole wheat olive bread
A totally doable meal planning guide + full meal planner that’ll teach you how to meal plan, save more, and stress less.