When you have a large family you need easy and cheap meals that don’t take a lot of time to prepare. These tips will help you feed a crowd on a budget.
Please, welcome my good friend, Sarah to the blog today. She’s a pro at feeding a large family on the cheap! The tips below will give tons of ideas for making feeding your larger than average family quickly and easily.
PLUS – Don’t miss her FREE Freezer to Slow Cooker Meals eBook at the bottom of the page! I love these recipes!
Hi there! I’m Sarah from SidetrackedSarah.com.
I first met Amy over 15 years ago when her family moved to our town. She had 3 kids at the time and so did I. We both homeschooled and we seemed to have so much in common!
We both knew we wanted big families, and we could not stop talking when we got together. It was great to have a friend I could connect with on such a deep level!
We have remained great friends through the years and I’m blessed to have her living a little closer to me again, even though she’s moved many times.
If there’s one thing Amy and I know, it’s food!
We now have 17 kids between us, and let me tell you they are ALWAYS hungry!
I’m one who doesn’t exactly love cooking though. But, I have a routine that seems to work great for our family! Let me tell you a little about it. Maybe you can pick up a little tidbit you’ve never thought of or maybe you can teach me a few things, too!
Easy Frugal Ways to Feed Your Large Family
Tip #1 -Don’t cook hot meals for breakfast (except occasionally)
OK, don’t gasp.
There’s not a requirement for families to have a hot breakfast is there?
If your family loves hot breakfasts, and you don’t mind the extra dirty dishes that cooking another meal brings, then go for it. But for me, I’m not an morning person and I hate dishes.
My kids and I are totally cool with fending for ourselves and not having a hot breakfast.
For breakfast, we eat cereal, oatmeal, toast, fruit, boiled eggs, green smoothies and anything the kids want to make (and clean up) for themselves.
We all pitch in to feed the little kids and often, no 2 people have the same thing for breakfast.
It works for us!
Tip #2 – Shop at Aldi
We love Aldi!
We can go in and out so fast and it is so much cheaper than our regular grocery stores (aka Walmart in our small town).
I do have to drive to a town 45 minutes away to shop there, but it is always worth it!
I can fill up 2 carts full of groceries for $200. Amazing!
If you’re not a regular Aldi shopper, you will do best to visit the produce aisle on a regular basis. I regularly get 3 pound bags of apples for $1.99, avocados for 39 cents and whole pineapples for $1. When oranges are in season, I’m buying them for $1.88 per 4 pound bag.
We stock up and buy whatever produce is cheap that week in large quantities for our large family.
I typically only get to Aldi once a month, so it has to last!
The other food aisles are well worth shopping, too. Some items may only save you 20 to 50 cents per item when comparing to your regular grocery store’s brand, but those savings add up big time!
READ >> Aldi Shopping List & Grocery Budget for a Large Family
Tip #3 – We buy some foods in bulk
When I say bulk, I mean that we have a Sam’s membership we use to buy cheese, flour, peanut butter, beans, salsa, yogurt and convenience foods (for my husband to take to work).
I also order oats through a food coop and when at Aldi, I will buy cases of canned foods. Things like canned vegetables, tomato sauce, cream soups (of course, you could use a canned soup substitute), spaghetti sauce, chili beans and more.
READ >> What a Large Family Buys in Bulk
Tip #4 – We assign certain days for dishes
Feeding a large family equals a lot of dishes!
Each of my older kids has a full-day rotation for doing the dishes. It is their responsibility to keep up with it all, and if they don’t complete it by bed time, they have to do the first load the next morning.
My 10 and 7 year olds have the responsibility of emptying the dishwasher at least once a day, sometimes twice. They do it together since my 7 year old is still struggling with finding her work ethic.
READ >> Children’s Chores for the Kitchen and Dining Room
Tips #5 -We use cloth napkins
We don’t use cloth napkins because we are trying to save the earth – I just always ran out of paper napkins and I found my kids made a mess of them.
When I find a stash of napkins for sale at a yard sale, I snatch them up. We use them often!
READ >> Large Family Cloth Napkins
Tips #6 – We keep lunch simple
Once again, I’m not one who requires 3 sit down meals each time we eat.
If we have leftovers, we eat leftovers, but if we don’t, we’re eating chef salads, baked potatoes, quesadillas or sandwiches.
We don’t have a schedule of what to eat on which day because we often rely on our moods (and the foods available in that moment) to tell us what to eat.
Nice and flexible!
READ >> Making Lunch Easy with Soup, Salad , or Sandwiches
Tip #7 -We buy our meat in bulk
Buying meat in bulk is not only cheaper, but allows you the flexibility of having whatever you need on hand.
I recently bought chicken from Zaycon foods and a side of beef from a local farmer. It’s so nice to have it all in the freezer, ready for me when I need it!
Tip #8 -We cook from scratch
When I say “from scratch” I mean, we don’t use Hamburger Helper, bagged Lipton noodles or things like that.
We make our own sides and make our own pasta dishes without a box.
However, I don’t make homemade bread (at least, not very often) and typically don’t make kombucha or bone broth.
>> Check out this fantastic 100% Whole Wheat Bread recipe! <<
I’m in a season of life where doing these “extra” things seems like extra work to me, so I just don’t do them. They’re not important to me right now. And that’s perfectly alright.
Tip #9 – We use Crockpot Freezer Meals as often as possible
I say as often as possible, because it is crazy how often I forget to put the food in the slow cooker! I even have it set on my phone to remind me to put food in and I ignore it. Silly me!
But, whenever I do have my act together, I LOVE to stock my freezer with meals a week at a time.
I can do all of my shopping and then come home and chop and bag my food, divided into the appropriate recipes all at once.
Typically, I will do a full week of meals in about an hour, maybe two depending on the prep work.
Once though, I spent 30 minutes making 6 Mexican Freezer Meals that I could use over the course of a couple months. That felt amazing!
I hope these tips inspire you to feed your large family quicker, cheaper, and easier!
Sarah is a homeschooling mom of 7 who blogs about easy foods and crockpot recipes at SidetrackedSarah.com. She has developed a Freezer to Slow Cooker menu subscription service to help keep her sane and out of the kitchen as much as possible. Get a free sample of her Freezer to Slow Cooker Menu here. (Each recipe on her site feeds 6-8 adults – you may need to adjust according to your family size).
We love aldis!
Love these tips! Thank you for giving me permission not to make a hot breakfast every morning. (Even though I already don’t.) I’d say meal time at your house looks a lot like mealtime at my house. I enjoy cooking, but it’s just not feasible for us to cook, and clean up after, more than one large meal a day. I’ve heard great things about Zaycon foods before. I guess I need to check them out! Thanks for the tips!
Love the tips, thanks Sarah! I’m also a mom to seven. To streamline meals in our family we work each summer to create an annual meal plan.
Then everyone always knows what we’re having, I don’t have to think about “what’s for dinner”, and it’s easy to let the kids master the preperation of a new meal. It’s been a game changer for us. I’ll have to check out your freezer plan for our Crock-Pot nights–I’m thinking that’s a way to streamline even more!
Sarah Robinson says
That’s a great idea, Lisa. Love it! 🙂
How do you keep fresh fruit and vegetables from going bad yet avaliable when your only buying them once a month? I find for our household of 6 we run out mid week 1 or it goes bad by end of week. Sigh..and milk…dear lord they drink a gallon a day. I need to buy a fridge just to hold milk. Lol
Sarah Robinson says
Haha…we don’t drink much milk, I guess. But, when I go to Aldi, I stock up on the cheap bags of fruit, usually apples and oranges. They can last a month or more for us. I usually keep them in the fridge if I can and they last a long time. If it’s things like lettuce and things that spoil faster, I may make a run to the store just for those perishables. I just buy the majority of my things once a month and will stop in for other things if necessary.
We are family of 6 as well and have the same issues, especially with milk! Lol I have four boys all growing and eating like their daddy lol
You’re Aldi’s has amazing prices! I shop at Aldi’s as well, but the cheapest I have ever found apples are $2.99 for a 3 lb bag and pineapple for $1.99 and even those prices are every week. I do agree that shopping there helps me feed my family of 13 though.
Sarah Robinson says
That’s true, we do have great prices. One thing I’ve found is that it varies depending on the competitors in the area. When I was in a larger city, some of the prices went way down, but in smaller towns, they’re a little higher. It’s kind of interesting to see the fluctuations. Try another town to see what their prices are like, if you get to a larger city. You can also follow the sales ads for your area to get an idea, too.
I have a family of 11. Oldest 14. My tip is to have some time booked regularly with yourself to freeze different meats. I have pork sausage, chicken, ham, ground beef, and turkey (usually meatballs) just sitting in there ready for whatever I need them for. I TRY to plan something, but with homeschooling and LIFE – I often don’t get around to planning, or what I planned I forgot to start and then AHHH – grab the frozen meat, boil noodles or shred zucchini. I also grind my own grains, but keep a stash of “emergency” rolls or muffins in the freezer for when I didn’t get the grain made for that day.
I am a Mom of four growing boys and I do not cook three meals a day either. I have taught my eight yr old how to make the malt o meal and cream of wheat that they love so much. They are hungry all day lol I would love to do the freezer meals but I’ve already subscribed to you and I may have missed the free week of crock pot meals.
Kaitlyne McNutt says
We love aldi!!we only have 3 kids but our grocery bill is any where from $75-$100 a week…it becomes higher when my husband joins us with his sweet tooth lol
That’s a fantastic savings!
I envy your lifestyle. I’m not ready to give up mine, but I do appreciate what to me seems like simpler more fulfilled life. Less stuff and more family time and experiences. As a child some of my best memories are in the kitchen or the garden with my mom or dad.