Cheap Easy Meals For Large Families

Cheap Easy Meals For Large Families On A Budget


I got pregnant at 17, married at 18, and had four children by the time I was 24. We were dirt poor, having two of children with special needs, and barely living paycheck to paycheck. I’ve never liked to cook, but when you have hungry mouths to feed, you just have to. So, I’ll share some of the cheap easy meals that I fixed for my growing family over the years. 

When my husband left us, I was then a single mom of four with one less mouth to feed, but the kids were growing fast and ate more. I know this is starting to sound like a country western song, but please don’t feel sorry for me, as the divorce turned out to be a blessing in disguise, both emotionally and financially. 

Cheap Easy Recipe Ideas

Please also keep in mind that I was big into couponing back in the day and stockpiled non-perishable items when on sale. We also was lucky to be gifted a quarter of a beef from my grandmother each year. When that ran out, I’d buy the ten-pound tubes of hamburger when on sale and cut it up into pound portions and freeze it in quart-size freezer bags. 

Sometimes I’d even buy ground turkey to substitute for recipes that called for browned hamburger such as tacos, spaghetti, or Hamburger Helper (the cheeseburger macaroni was the favorite). The kids would be none the wiser. And if the recipe called for any type of pasta, I’d always add extra as pasta was cheap and filling. 

While we didn’t qualify for “government cheese”, my great-grandmother did and received way more cheese than she alone could eat so shared some with us. Therefore, I made a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese with peas (my kids loved peas in their mac ‘n cheese and still do). I personally don’t care for yellow cheese (yes, I’m apparently weird that respect), and it’s only recently I’ve expanded my white cheese palate. Side story: when I went to church camp many moon again, I begged my mother to say I was allergic to cheese so I wouldn’t have to eat it. She wouldn’t. 

When my daughter first got married and was trying her hand at cooking (I wasn’t much of a role model in that department), she called me for advice. She said she was making Hamburger Helper but didn’t have any extra pasta to add. I laughed and told her how I only added extra to feed more mouths and that the called for amount should be more than enough for just her and her husband. 

I was a big fan of Hamburger Helper especially when it was on sale, and I had coupons to match up. I’d stockpile dozens of boxes when I could buy it for 50¢ or less per box. I’ve bought the Tuna Helper once in a while to switch it up (and tuna was cheaper than hamburger). But I had my own tuna recipes that I made many a times.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

A tuna fish casserole in a serving dish with rolls


  • One can tuna, drained
  • One can cream of chicken soup (can also use cream of celery)
  • Half a bag of noodles (can substitute any kind of pasta)
  • Celery salt


  1. Cook pasta as directed and drain water.
  2. Add drained tuna, cream soup and celery seasoning.
  3. Stir and serve.


You can add peas and/or carrots if you'd like. You can also add crunched corn flake cereal on top to make it look like a true casserole. But to be honest, we usually just ate it out of the pan we boiled the pasta in.

Truth be told, I ate so much tuna in the first half of my life (my mother was also a poor single mom who taught me how to make the tuna noodle concoction), that I can’t eat tuna anymore. The thought of it makes me suddenly not hungry.

Cheap Easy Meals For Large Families On A Budget

Eight Cheap Easy Recipes

Here some more cheap easy recipes from my blogger friends who can all cook way better than I can!

Tips For Grocery Shopping For Large Families

If you have a large family, you know that grocery shopping can be a challenge. From trying to stick to a budget to finding items that everyone will enjoy, it can be difficult to make sure that everyone is taken care of. However, there are some tips that you can follow in order to make the process a little bit easier. Here are 10 tips for grocery shopping for large families.

1. Make a list – and stick to it.

One of the best ways to save money when you’re grocery shopping is to make a list of everything that you need before you even set foot in the store. This will help you to avoid impulsive purchases, and sticking to a list will ensure that you don’t forget anything important. I used to go through the grocery store ads that came out in the free weekly newspaper and write down the sale items  from each store on a discarded envelope. 

2. Shop around for deals.

Another great way to save money is to compare prices at different stores before you make your final purchase. You may find that one store has a better deal on certain items than another, so it’s always worth taking the time to do a little bit of research. It may take more time to shop at a few stores, but back then I had more time than money. 

3. Use coupons.

If you’re really looking to save some money, then using coupons can be a great way to do it. Many stores offer coupons that can be used on various items, so be sure to take advantage of them when you can. You may be surprised at how much money you can save. On my sale list, I would mark “c/o” if I had a coupon beside those particular items, and I’d stick the coupons that I wanted to use inside the envelope. 

4. Buy in bulk.

If you find that you’re using a lot of a certain product, then buying in bulk can be a great way to save money in the long run. Many stores offer discounts for purchasing items in bulk, so it’s definitely worth considering if you think you’ll be using a lot of something.

5. Avoid processed foods.

Processed foods can be expensive, and they’re not always the healthiest option for your family. If you’re looking to save money and eat healthier, then avoiding processed foods is a good idea. Instead, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, which are usually cheaper and better for you.

6. Plan your meals in advance.

Another great way to save money is to plan your meals in advance. This way, you’ll know exactly what you need to buy and you won’t end up wasting food. Plus, planning ahead can help you make sure that you’re making healthy choices for your family. And if you suddenly have more faces to feed than you anticipated (my kids liked to bring friends home with them from school), here the best recipes for unexpected guests.

7. Avoid eating out.

Eating out can be expensive, especially if you have a large family. If you’re looking to save money, then avoiding restaurants is a good idea. Instead, focus on making meals at home, which will be cheaper and usually healthier.

8. Buy generic brands.

Name-brand products can be expensive, so opting for generic brands can be a great way to save money. Many times, the generic brands are just as good as the name-brand products, but they’re much cheaper. So, if you’re looking to save, then go for the generic option. Be sure to compare prices though, as some name brand sale items may actually be cheaper than generic ones. 

9. Use leftovers.

If you have leftovers, don’t throw them out! Instead, use them for another meal. This can help you save money and avoid waste. For instance, we use leftover rotisserie chicken to make chicken noodle soup, and it is delicious!

10. Grow your own food.

If you have the space, then growing your own food can be a great way to save money on groceries. You can grow fruits and vegetables, which will be cheaper than buying them at the store. Plus, you’ll know that they’re fresh and healthy. And if you don’t have a green thumb, like me, barter with your friends, family and neighbors for some of their homegrown vegetables. 

Following these tips can help you save money when you’re grocery shopping for a large family. With a little bit of planning and effort, you can make sure that everyone in your family is taken care of without breaking the bank. Click here for even more ways to save money while grocery shopping. 


I hope you see that there are many ways to make cheap easy meals for large families. You just have to be a little creative and resourceful. And please don’t feel bad if you can’t afford steak every night or even Hamburger Helper. We all have to start somewhere, and we all have different circumstances. Just do the best you can with what you have and know that your children will love you for it!

Grocery shopping and meal planning for a large family can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. By following our tips above, you can make sure that everyone in your family is taken care of without breaking the bank. So, start planning and saving today!

Kim Rowley Lohrberg

cheap & easy instant pot recipes

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