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Even if you’ve already got some budget meals for large families in your recipe box, these tips will save you even more money!

I love cooking.  In fact, I took nearly every single cooking project available when I was in 4-H.  I even made it to the state level a few times.  (I like to bring up my Outstanding of the Day prize for bread baking whenever I need to brag.)

So when we were first married, I felt like every meal needed to be a masterpiece.  We needed several dishes and I should not repeat the same meal very often, if at all.

You can guess how that worked out.  I was too tired to create the perfect meal after working all day.  So I’d avoid it, and we’d eat out far too often. Perfection is the enemy of the good.

Over time I came up with a list of simple, affordable meals.  These are the tried and true meals that I feed to my family regularly.  They are delicious, filling, and frugal.

Budget Meals for Large Families

These cheap meal tips will stretch your grocery budget more than ever! Do you already use all of these ideas?

Whole Chicken

Whole chicken is super frugal, and you can do so many different things with it.  When you buy whole chicken, be sure to buy the biggest chickens they sell.  You’re paying for the bones, so you want as much affordable meat as possible hanging on those bones!

Then, try these ideas to make that chicken a bigger bargain!

  • Throw it whole in the crock pot with your favorite seasonings.  If you don’t like it mushy, put some balls of tin foil under it to keep it out of the juice.
  • Roast it whole in the oven.  Allow extra time to cook it completely.
  • Try beer can chicken on the grill for a juicy bird.  We like this recipe.
  • Cut it into pieces to bake or fry.  Here’s a great tutorial on how to cut a whole fryer.
  • Shred any leftover meat.  Bag it and put it in the freezer to use in casseroles, soups, pizza toppings, and more.
  • Boil the bones in water with celery, carrots, and some spices to make a delicious (frugal) broth for soups and noodles.

(You’ll love these frugal living tips for even bigger savings!)

Make it even more frugal!

Look for whole chickens at their lowest price and fill your freezer.  Find cheap turkeys in November and substitute turkey for chicken in your favorite recipes.

Chicken Breasts

While whole chicken is affordable, you can often find boneless chicken breasts at a decent price, too.  Perfect for the family that doesn’t have the time for cutting around bones (or doesn’t want to).

There are a million ways to cook up chicken breasts.  Here are just a few ideas:

  • Cook in the crock pot with barbecue sauce for pulled chicken sandwiches.  Just shred it, add a little extra sauce, and put it on a bun.
  • Put it in a ziploc type bag with your favorite marinade.  Let it sit overnight or freeze it until you’re ready to grill or bake it.
  • Mix it up with brown sugar, honey mustard…you can even make pizza from it!  I don’t have to tell you that Pinterest is your BFF when it comes to recipes, right?

Make it even more frugal!

Grill, fry, or bake up a large batch.  Chop all of it.  Bag it and freeze it.

Make it last by mixing it with beans, noodles, topping salads, and (you guessed it) casseroles or soups.

Cheap dinner ideas that fit the budget burger

Ground Beef or Ground Turkey

Ground beef isn’t as cheap as it once was, but sometimes you can still find a great deal on it.  Ditto ground turkey.  Some ideas for using that ground beef:

  • Make homemade “hamburger helper” or goulash.  Brown your ground beef, add noodles, leftover veggies, cheese, sauces (tomato sauce, cream of soups, milk, etc.), and spices to create a dish your family will love.
  • Tacos or taco soup are easy and frugal
  • Barbecued beef sandwiches
  • Chili (more beans means less meat is needed!)
  • Make your own hamburgers, meatballs, or meatloaf.  Here’s an idea for cheeseburger sliders in the oven.

Make it even more frugal!

Each time you brown your beef, pull out a spoonful and put it into a freezer bag.  You won’t notice a difference, but after a while you’ll have a “free” meal of browned ground beef in the freezer.

Brown a big batch at a time in the crock pot.  Directions here.  Then pull from the freezer as needed.  This can save you from a night of ordering pizza!



If you’re a Scrubs fan, then you already know that brinner is breakfast for dinner.  Definitely a favorite at our house!  Pancakes for supper feels like a treat, but it’s actually a great way to have a frugal meal.  Other ideas include:

  • Breakfast casseroles and quiches (keep an eye on egg prices!)
  • Hash browns (make your own by shredding or cutting up potatoes)
  • Toast (French style or regular old toast)
  • Breakfast sandwiches.  Use whatever breads you have on hand (English muffins, bagels, or toast), and fill it with seasonal veggies, sale priced meats, and cheese.

Make it even more frugal!

Serve breakfast meats as a side item rather than the main course.  Or skip out on the meat and fill up with other breakfast foods instead.

Stretch Out the Holidays

Certain seasonal meats go on a big sale when the holidays hit.  If you can find it in the budget, grab extra ham and turkey for the freezer in December.  Serve it at a big meal, and then save all of those leftovers for other meals.  Use some on sandwiches for cheap lunches.  Freeze the rest of it in portions perfect for future meals.

Use Your Leftovers

For a long time, my family didn’t enjoy eating leftovers.  So I found ways to repurpose them instead.  Save those scraps of meats, veggies, and cheeses to use in soups, casseroles, as pizza toppings, and more.

Other Cheap Dinner Ideas

Get over 40 recipes of cheap meals for large families!Easy Large Family Meals

These cheap dinner ideas will change your budget and simplify life.

One more great benefit from simplifying our meals?  I was in a much better mood for dinner conversation.

Also be sure to check out my post at A Budget Friendly Life for Entertaining on a Budget Without Looking Cheap.


What is your family’s favorite cheap dinner idea?  If you’ve got a recipe, be sure to leave it in the comments!

This Is How To Make Budget Meals for Large Families Even More Frugal
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This Is How To Make Budget Meals for Large Families Even More Frugal
If you've already got some budget meals for large families in your recipe box, here are some tips to save you even more money!
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Medium Sized Family

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