Many homesteaders have big families. I have 10 people living in my house, ya’ll! Sometimes the budget is a little too tight, so we need to find cheap meals to feed us even when we feel broke. Here is a list (with links to recipes) of 21 cheap meals for big families.
If you’re on a tight budget like me, you probably need to cut back on the food budget. These cheap meals for big families should help you do just that!
Shit on a shingle. This is a poor man’s biscuits and gravy, and one of our favorite versions of “brinner” (see #20). It’s just gravy, served on buttered toast. You can do sausage or hamburger, but it’s traditionally made with chipped beef. We usually do a bunch of fried eggs with it, because, well, chickens!
I must admit, I was intimidated by homemade gravy for a long time. But after I tried it, I found that it’s so easy! I NEVER buy country gravy mix anymore! Here is a great recipe for gravy, from Homemade Hooplah.
This cheap meal costs me under $10 for my whole family of 10.
2. Potato nests
Potatoes are super cheap even if you don’t grow them yourself! In this meal, you can combine those cheap potatoes and the “free” eggs that your chickens give you. The Pioneer Woman has an awesome, easy recipe for eggs in hash brown nests.
If you have chickens and use their eggs, this meal should cost less than $5 for the family.
Of course we’ve gotta go there! If you grow tomatoes and can your own spaghetti sauce, and raise your own beef for hamburger, spaghetti is extremely frugal! Even if you don’t, it’s still a pretty cheap meal to make. This is a very easy recipe (with only one pan to clean up!) from Love Grows Wild. And another great recipe from The Pioneer Woman, for homemade spaghetti sauce.
Even with buying spaghetti sauce, a huge pot of spaghetti costs less than $10.
4. Pasta with pesto
Pesto is easy to make, and you probably have stuff growing that you can make it with. Of course basil is the “normal” basic ingredient, but there are other variations as well. This spring I will be making lambsquarter pesto, since I have it growing everywhere. This easy recipe is from This Original Organic Life.
Since pasta is fairly cheap, this meal is less than $10 for the whole family.
Cheap and very filling. Our goolash is just macaroni boiled in tomato sauce with hamburger (and corn sometimes to give it an extra boost). Here is a great, easy recipe for grandma’s goolash from The Country Cook.
Even with the added “luxury” of corn, I can make a huge pot of this for less than $5.
6. Shepherd’s Pie
If you grow your own potatoes (or buy them – they’re cheap), raise your own beef for hamburger, and grow mixed veggies like peas and carrots, this meal is about as cheap as they come, and delicious comfort food! This is a good recipe from A Family Feast.
If you have to buy all of the ingredients, it will be a little more expensive, but still shouldn’t be more than $15 for a large batch.
Beans are cheap, homegrown beef is very economical, and you’re probably already growing the tomatoes and lettuce. Tortillas can be a little expensive at the store, but if you learn how to make them yourself (one of the things I want to learn), they are super cheap! I’m going to try this recipe for homemade flour tortillas from Grow a Good Life – it looks so simple and frugal!
Since we grow our own beef, in the summertime when the vegetable garden is producing well, this meal is typically less than $10 for my family.
8. Fried rice
If you have chickens, you probably need to use up a bunch of eggs! Rice is cheap, and with the addition of chicken, some mixed vegetables, ginger, and eggs, this one’s a winner! If you want a super simple and quick recipe for fried rice, check out this one from Homemade Hooplah.
This meal usually just sets me back about $10 for my gang. Compare that to the typical Chinese takeout!
9. Amish cabbage skillet
Love this one! With your homegrown cabbage, beef, and tomato sauce, this is a great comfort food. Recipe via Smile Sandwich. Pair with a loaf of homemade bread and you’ve got a complete meal.
This meal is very filling, and I can make it for about $5 for my big family.
10. Zucchini bread
While not exactly a meal, zucchini bread is super economical for the homesteader. If you’re anything like me, you probably went overboard on the zucchini plants in the garden. And zucchinis are typically high performers. Surely you’ve heard the phrase, “teach a woman to garden, and the whole neighborhood gets zucchini”!
You can use up a lot of zucchini, and extra eggs, with a batch or two of zucchini bread. This is a really good looking recipe from Divas Can Cook.
If you use your own zucchini and chickens from your eggs, a loaf should cost about $1.
11. Chicken pot pie
Chicken, veggies, soup, and some baking mix. That’s cheap comfort food at its finest! Here is a super easy recipe from Genius Kitchen.
A big hearty batch of chicken pot pie costs less than $10.
12. Fried chicken
If you raise chickens for meat, this is a no-brainer! Pair with a nice vegetable side dish (maybe the Green Bean Casserole in #17?) and you’ve got it made! Here is a great recipe from Flunking Family.
Depending on the side you make with it, a big meal of homemade fried chicken can cost as little as $7.
13. Steak and potatoes
While not normally considered a “frugal” meal, steak and potatoes is a perfect, economical food for homesteaders. If you grow your own beef and grow potatoes (or buy them), this is a pretty cheap meal. No recipe for this one – but if you can’t figure out how to cook steak and potatoes – well, I don’t know what to tell ya!
I can make a lovely dinner of steak and potatoes for my family for about $20 if I use my homegrown beef.
This is a great meal for big families, and helps to use up a lot of eggs! You can put your homegrown spinach in with it, and some cheese, and you’ve got a very frugal meal. These mini frittatas from Jess Fuel look amazing, and so easy!
Using my homegrown goodies, this brunch can cost me less than $5.
15. Potato soup
Potatoes, cream, broth, and cheese, maybe some bacon. Doesn’t get much cheaper, and can feed a crowd! This recipe from Mama Loves Food is super easy and uses the Crock Pot. If your family likes soup, this is a great cheap meal for big families.
Grow your own potatoes, make your own chicken stock from a leftover chicken carcass, and this meal is super cheap. I can do a huge pot for as little as $10, and have lots of leftovers!
16. Chicken noodle soup
Homegrown chicken, homemade chicken broth, homemade egg noodles (although I’ve yet to perfect these), homegrown carrots, onion, celery. Done! If you’re like me and struggle with homemade egg noodles, try this recipe from Budget Bytes.
If you still struggle with homemade egg noodles, buy some, and this meal will still only cost about $6 for a big pot.
17. Green bean casserole
We like to “beef” this up with some chicken and cheese, and even bacon if the budget allows. Cheap, easy meal nice enough to take to a pot-luck. This is a good basic recipe for green bean casserole, using either the canned or made-from-scratch soup, from Sweet and Savory Meals.
With our additions, we have used this as a full meal, and it costs under $15 for a huge batch.
18. Tater tot casserole
The beef we raise, but unfortunately I haven’t found a way to grow tater tots! Still a cheap, easy meal fit for a crowd. Check out this recipe from My Kitchen Escapades.
We make this meal frequently, and it only sets us back about $15.
19. Potatoes and onions
You can dress this up with any kind of meat, or not, depending on your budget. Try bacon, sausage, or even some ground beef. One of the cheapest meals I know of! This amazing, super easy recipe is from Cook Like Your Grandmother.
If you do the basic version of potatoes and onions, this cheap meal only costs about $5.
Breakfast for dinner. One of our favorite cheap meals for big families, it has endless possibilities! We like to do pancakes and eggs, biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos, or S.O.S. Almost every time I’m in charge of dinner on a tight budget, you can bet I’ll be making brinner! I’m not going to include a recipe here, because well, I hope you get the idea.
Depending on which breakfast recipe we choose, breakfast for dinner only costs us about $10-15.
21. Chicken and dumplings
Just as easy and economical as chicken noodle soup or chicken pot pie, you just need chicken, chicken broth, some mixed veggies, and some baking mix (or make your own). Drop the dumplings in the chicken soup and let simmer. Easy and cheap! Here is a good recipe from Kevin And Amanda.
Only slightly more expensive than chicken noodle soup, this cheap meal costs us only about $8.
Feeding a big family on a budget can be a big challenge. Finding cheap meals for big families that your family will actually enjoy can be even harder!
I’m not a food blogger, nor do I play one on TV, but I hope this post will give you some ideas for cheap meals for big families when there’s too much month at the end of the money. If you have found this article helpful, would you mind sharing?
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