24 Best Cheap Meals for Large Families

Feed a Crowd Without Breaking the Bank

Chicken bog ready to serve from the kettle.
Diana Rattray

With today's smaller family size, it can be difficult to find large quantity recipes, and it's even harder to find economical choices. You can often convert a recipe for 4 or 6 by doubling some ingredients, but that doesn't work in every case. 

Most of the recipes below are designed for eight or more people. Most use inexpensive cuts of meat or poultry and everyday pantry ingredients. These recipes are great for big families, special events, potlucks, or dinners with guests. Whether for a party or family meal, you're sure to find the perfect recipe on this list.

  • 01 of 24

    Simple Meatloaf With Optional Topping

    Meatloaf in a loaf pan with topping.
    The Spruce

    Meatloaf is an excellent choice for big families; the basic combination of ground beef, breadcrumbs, and seasonings is budget-friendly and will serve up to 8 people. Add a tasty topping to this simple meatloaf to make it extra special and serve it with rice, mashed potatoes, or noodles. Or use the meat mixture to make sliders or meatloaf muffins.

  • 02 of 24

    Pizza Pasta Casserole

    Pizza pasta casserole.
    The Spruce Eats/Diana Mocanu

    Classic pizza flavors and ingredients abound in this hearty all-in-one pizza pasta casserole. Use whatever pasta you have in the pantry and your family's favorite pizza toppings to make this delicious casserole. 

  • 03 of 24

    Authentic Irish Lamb Stew

    Irish-style lamb stew with vegetables.
    The Spruce

    Lamb shoulder makes this Irish stew a flavorful, budget-friendly choice for large families. Add some root vegetables and basic pantry seasonings and you have a meal to remember.

  • 04 of 24

    Traditional Brunswick Stew

    Traditional Brunswick stew in a cast iron Dutch oven.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Brunswick stew offers loads of flavor, and it is a perfect way to use up leftovers. The stew includes shredded cooked chicken thighs and pork shoulder, beans, and vegetables. Whether for a big family or potluck dinner, you can't go wrong with this delicious dish.

    Continue to 5 of 24 below.
  • 05 of 24

    Chicken Bog

    Chicken bog with rice and sausage.
    Diana Rattray

    This old-timey South Carolina chicken and rice bog will surely delight your friends and family. The smoked sausage adds to the complex flavors in this dish. Add a tossed salad or slaw for a memorable dinner.

  • 06 of 24

    Instant Pot Potato Soup

    Potato soup with cheese and bacon topping.
    Leah Maroney

    A hearty potato soup makes an inexpensive yet satisfying meal for a family, and the Instant Pot pressure cooker makes this a quick and easy preparation.

  • 07 of 24

    Instant Pot Pork Shoulder

    instant pot pork shoulder shredded
    Diana Rattray

    This Instant Pot pork shoulder is a fast and easy preparation, and it's always a hit. Budget-friendly pork shoulder goes a long way, whether it is used in sandwiches, tacos, or as a mac and cheese topper.  

  • 08 of 24

    Crock Pot Sloppy Joes

    Sloppy Joe sandwich with tater tots.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Sloppy Joe sandwiches make a family-pleasing meal. Serve them with fries or tater tots, or make it even easier with potato chips. Ground beef, ketchup, and seasonings make it a cheap and easy dish to prepare. If the recipe makes too much, you can scale it down or freeze leftovers for another day.

    Continue to 9 of 24 below.
  • 09 of 24

    Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

    A bowl of macaroni and cheese made in the pressure cooker.
    Diana Rattray

    The Instant Pot pressure cooker makes this macaroni and cheese a breeze to cook. The pasta cooks quickly and then the remaining ingredients are added to make a surprisingly creamy and delicious batch of mac and cheese. Add some diced ham, tuna, or bacon to the dish for a heartier meal. 

  • 10 of 24

    Beefy Enchilada Casserole

    Enchilada casserole with ground beef and cheese.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Ground beef, cheese, tortillas, and seasonings come together to make this amazing enchilada casserole. Serve the casserole with sour cream or guacamole and fresh salsa; it's a meal your family will ask for again and again.

  • 11 of 24

    Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

    Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    This big batch of beef stew is perfect for a big family or an extended family dinner. Add some crusty bread or rolls for an amazing meal.

  • 12 of 24

    Potato Chip Chicken

    Potato chip chicken, oven-fried.
    Leah Maroney

    Crunchy potato chip chicken is sure to be a frequent request. Chicken breasts are coated with barbecue chips and then baked to perfection in the oven. 

    Continue to 13 of 24 below.
  • 13 of 24

    Quick and Easy Turkey Tetrazzini

    Turkey Tetrazzini
    The Spruce

    Tetrazzini is an excellent casserole for a family, and it is loaded with flavor. Turkey or chicken is the classic ingredient, but feel free to use ham as the protein. This casserole would be easy to scale up to make two casseroles for a large family, or one to eat and one to freeze.

  • 14 of 24

    Eggs, Biscuits and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

    Breakfast Casserole With Sausage and Biscuits
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    This all-in-one breakfast casserole has it all! The egg, biscuit, and sausage casserole is perfect for a weekend or holiday family breakfast. 

  • 15 of 24

    Slow Cooker Calico Beans

    Calico Beans
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Calico beans are super easy to make, and they can be served as a main dish or side. The dish is made with a variety of canned beans and ground beef. Serve this delicious mixed bean dish with biscuits or cornbread.

  • 16 of 24

    Oven-Fried Chicken With Cornflake Crumb Coating

    Oven-fried chicken with cornflake coating.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Chicken leg quarters are inexpensive and flavorful, and this oven-fried chicken recipe is a great way to fix them. A Cajun seasoning blend adds zippy flavor to the cornflake coating, but feel free to use a seasoned salt blend or your favorite herb mixture.

    Continue to 17 of 24 below.
  • 17 of 24

    Slow Cooker Baby Lima Beans and Ham

    lima beans
     The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Dried lima beans might be inexpensive, but their rich flavor and buttery texture might surprise you. These baby limas are slow-cooked to perfection with a ham bone and diced leftover ham, along with seasonings.

  • 18 of 24

    Classic Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce

    Coney Island hot dog sauce with ground beef.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Hot dogs are always a great choice for budget meals. Gussy your hot dogs up with this beefy Coney Island sauce. Your family will thank you!

  • 19 of 24

    Crock Pot Lentil Soup

    Classic lentil soup in a bowl.
    Diana Rattray

    This slow cooker lentil soup is a great choice for a large family meal. Serve it with some crusty French bread and a simple tossed salad for an enjoyable everyday dinner.

  • 20 of 24

    Tex-Mex Taco Beef Sliders

    Tex-Mex sliders on a plate.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    An economical meal doesn't have to be boring. These yummy Tex-Mex taco beef sliders will be a big hit with everyone in the family! The chuck roast, which serves as the protein base for these flavorful sliders, may be cooked in a slow cooker or on the stovetop.

    Continue to 21 of 24 below.
  • 21 of 24

    Instant Pot Chicken and Rice Soup

    Closeup of a bowl of Instant Pot chicken and rice soup.
    Diana Rattray

    Comforting chicken and rice soup is a snap to prepare and cook in the Instant Pot pressure cooker, and it makes a soul-satisfying meal. All cooking steps are completed in the cooker, so there are very few dirty dishes to clean. 

  • 22 of 24

    Mexican Pizza

    Mexican pizza with cheese topping.
    ​The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

    This delicious Mexican pizza is topped with a combination of chorizo or ground pork, peppers, shredded cheese, and a taco-seasoned sauce mixture. The recipe makes two generous pizzas.

  • 23 of 24

    Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs With Panko and Parmesan Coating

    Baked Parmesan and panko coated chicken thighs.
    The Spruce

    Chicken thighs are easy on the budget and offer more flavor than more expensive chicken breasts. Serve these mouthwatering panko and Parmesan coated chicken thighs with mashed potatoes and your family's favorite veggie side dish.

  • 24 of 24

    Perfect Spinach Lasagna

    Perfect spinach lasagna recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    A meal does not have to have meat in it to be protein-rich and satisfying, and this spinach lasagna is a perfect example. Add this great-tasting meat-free meal to your recipe box.