Ideas to Feed Large Crowds for Cheap

I tell you what…this was just yet another one of those weeks where I was thinking of how awesome my mom is! And here’s why. Over Labor Day I had six guests come crash in our 2 bedroom apartment in LA and so to add that to my family of four, it was quite packed! We sure had a blast though! But I tell you what, it wasn’t sharing an air mattress with my three year old who takes up 75% of the bed that was the hardest, it was making meals for all of these people every day all week. My parents had eight children, so my mom was cooking for ten people all day, EVERY day! And she didn’t just make sandwiches or freezer stuff from Costco every meal, most of the time they were legit, delicious home cooked meals. She’s amazing! I do not know how she did that every day without a single complaint. I can hardly get dinner ready for our little family of four every day.

Anyway, Labor Day weekend came quick and I had to think of ideas to feed my “mass” of people. So I kept it simple and made easy things that I like. Because honestly, they are at your mercy to feed them and will probably be happy no matter what you make, so long as they are full.

I went straight to the source of wisdom for lots of good ideas in my life: Pinterest, and she pulled through for me once again. I found a wonderful article about feeding a large crowd for cheap and while this author was talking about how she has to feed a crowd of over 50 people every meal for a week every year, I tried not to feel lame that I was overwhelmed with my mass of 10 people I digress. She gives lots of good ideas for meals that are cheap and delicious and I got plenty more ideas from the comments of this article as well.

These are just kind of generic meal ideas, so you can use your favorite recipe for each one and you will be good to go!

  • BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Nacho Bar or Taco Bar
  • Baked Potato Bar
  • Chili with Fritos and Cheese
  • Turkey Dinner
  • Beef and/or Chicken Enchiladas
  • Sub Sandwich Bar
  • Soup and Homemade Bread
  • Pancakes and Breakfast Casserole
  • Chicken Pasta Salad
  • Lasagna
  • Chef Salad Bar
  • Chicken Pasta Alfredo
  • Oven Baked Chicken
  • Taco Soup
  • Taco Salad
  • Beef Roast with Carrots and Potatoes
  • “Make Your Own Pizza”—make personal size pizza crusts ahead of time and line up the ingredients for toppings. If you really want to save time, have your meats ready and crusts already mostly cooked so all you have to do is put them in the oven long enough to melt the cheese and warm the meats.
  • Hawaiian Haystacks
  • Burger and Hot Dog Bar, Chips, Veggie Tray
  • Kielbasa, Cheesy Potatoes, Salad
  • Meatball Sandwiches – Make mini meatballs in advance and when the time comes for dinner, heat them in tomato sauce in a crockpot – Serve sauce and 3-4 mini meatballs in a bun-type bread (maybe Costco hot dog buns would work) then sprinkle a little parmesan or mozzarella.
  • Waffle Night with several fresh fruit toppings and garnishes (chopped nuts, whipped cream, peanut butter, honey, etc)
  • Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Salad

Feel free to share more ideas you have for feeding large crowds in the comments below.


    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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