Inside: Tons of tried and true easy meals for large families. Make meal time less of a chore!
Waaaaay back in the day, I was a young girl in 4-H. My goal was to take every single cooking project. I did well enough to compete at the state level more than once, and even won an “Outstanding of the Day” award there for my bread. Which I probably work into more conversations than I should.
To this day I maintain that I learned more usable life skills in 4-H than I did from my school. Which may or may not be true, I guess. After all, I’m using the writing abilities I got from school right now.
Anyway, I have always enjoyed cooking and baking. But those competitions are a lot different from creating a meal night after night. Especially when you’re cooking for a large family.
I’ve got a few demands when it comes to meal time. I want recipes that are easy, affordable, and taste good enough that the kids don’t all refuse to come to the table. (Foods that most of them like, because pleasing everyone all the time is impossible. Not to mention that I have no desire to cater to every whim of my children.)
It’s taken a while to find meal ideas that meet all of my needs. But over time, I’ve found recipes that are tried and true. The following are meals that my family enjoys eating (not to mention the budget benefits!).
My Recommended Easy Meals for Large Families
Generally my breakfasts are things I make ahead of time. I’m not a morning person, so you won’t often catch me getting up with the sun to make bacon and eggs.
So I either make these recipes ahead of time, or I at least have them made and in the fridge. All I need to do the next morning is pop them in the oven. No reading before coffee required!
Casserole isn’t always popular, but I think these will be a hit with the family.
Cranberry Apple Casserole (I like to grab cranberries on the cheap at Thanksgiving and throw them in the freezer for later.)
Scrappy Baked Oatmeal This is a favorite way to use up leftover fruit that’s past the eating stage but not yet bad.
Oatmeal Breakfast Bars Just the recipe for that child who can barely grab breakfast on his way out the door.
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Icing I adore this recipe! Both for taste and for another grab and go option.
I love putting together a giant batch of muffins. You can grab them and go for an easy lunch (or breakfast!). Here are some recipes we love.
I like to whip up a batch of Money Saving Mom’s cornbread. Then I put it in muffin tins and drop a piece of cut up hot dog into each tin. We call them corn dog muffins. I hate hot dogs, but I love these little treats!
Apple Muffins (So good, makes a nice big batch!)
Hard boiled eggs
Quesadillas For days at home, I bought a quesadilla maker. Even my first grader can use this to make her own cheese quesadilla with some training and guidance!
Great Dinner Ideas for Family
I find that casseroles and soups give me the most bang for my buck. I prefer to dump the ingredients and get on with my life. If a recipe requires extra steps for cooking on the stove top, it’s got to be easy and taste good enough for the extra effort.
Hamburger Noodle Bake Think lasagna without all the fuss.
Sour Cream Chicken Enchilada Casserole No wrapping required!
Chili (My Hubby makes it. You probably have your own favorite recipe.)
Simple Stove Top/One Pot Meals
Spaghetti (You always make enough to feed 20 people anyway, right?)
Chili Mac I double this recipe
Chicken Slop: You might want to use a different title, but that’s what I call it! Put chicken breasts in the crock pot. Top with a couple packs of stuffing. Then pour on two cans of cream of chicken soup with a small carton of sour cream (however much you like). Easy and filling on a busy day. (No, we don’t eat like this every day.)
Pork Roast: Add potatoes and carrots with plenty of your favorite spices and herbs. Pour in an inch of water before you cook on low all day.
My hubby likes to grill meat whenever possible. And I love to let him! Less dishes and mess in the kitchen is always great. Otherwise, here are some cheap meals for large groups.
Baked Tilapia with Lots of Spice I find tilapia one of the more affordable fish options.
Roast Beef This recipe would make even cheaper cuts of beef taste tender and delicious.
Pork Tenderloin I can often find this for $1.88 per pound or less. Mine is never done in the 45 minutes they suggest, so plan to at least double that cooking time. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t dry out. Or just throw this recipe into the crock pot!
Pleasant Pork Chops Another tasty way to turn cheap meat into a tender, delicious meal.
Favorite Ways to Use Up Leftovers
One of my top tips for saving money on groceries is to start with what you already have. What’s hanging out in the fridge? Catch it before it turns into a science experiment! Aside from the above mentioned soups and casseroles, our favorite ways to use up leftovers include:
Salad bar Use leftover meats and cheeses as toppings
Pulled pork Delicious way to use up leftover pork roast
Baked potato bar Top with chili, salsa, or (if you’re boring like my kids) just butter and sour cream
Leftover Mashed Potato Puffs I haven’t made this exact recipe yet, but I’m excited to give it a try soon!
Pizza Use my super easy crust recipe. Top with sauce (I make my own from cheap cans of tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and a little oil). Sprinkle on your cheese and top with whatever’s in the fridge or freezer.
Bread Pudding This is a Paula Deen recipe. You have been warned.
Lemon Bars Perfect on a hot day, though I usually just sprinkle powdered sugar over the top.
Keep these easy meals for large families at the ready.
Now meal time won’t be quite the dreaded chore it once was! You’ll have more time for the important things in life…like polishing your Outstanding of the Day trophy. Oops, there I go again!
Hey, before you go, are you a fan of pantry challenges? I’m not. Surprised? Learn why here.
What are your favorite easy meals for large families?