5 Affordable Meals for Large Groups

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Are you having a large group of people or a get-together at your home soon? Do you need to stick to a budget? Here are some affordable meals for large groups that can give you ideas on what to serve!

Inexpensive Easy Meals for Large Groups

Last year, we started something special at our home, and we plan on carrying on the tradition of doing so at our next home. Basically, it was a weekly open invitation for a potluck-style meal with a campfire, worship songs, and marshmallows to follow. We cooked the main part of the meal and had guests bring sides, desserts, etc.

We fed a LOT of people!

Over the year, I gathered several meal ideas that I wanted to share with you today. These meals are great for those wanting to serve a large group on a small budget. These are also easy to prepare for a large crowd.

For reference, we usually had an average of 25-30 people at each gathering. This is what I made!

Cheap Meals for a Crowd

Here are some of my favorite cheap meal ideas for a large group that we served up throughout the year. I’m also sharing some serving suggestions for a few basic sides to get you started.



I had to start with this one because it was an all-time favorite at our gatherings. Nachos to feed a crowd are super easy as far as prep work goes!

I did serve our nachos with meat. I browned up several pounds of hamburger along with homemade taco seasoning. Then, I added in 1 can of pinto beans per pound of meat to stretch it as far as I could.

For toppings, we had:

Many of these things were items that I had canned or usually had on hand, so it was very easy to put them together. To serve, we simply laid out large bowls of chips and all the toppings on a table, and everyone could help themselves. We didn’t serve sides with this meal because it already had a lot of bits and pieces.



We served this meal many, many times because who doesn’t love a great burger? We used pre-shaped burgers from the butcher to save even more time, but you can shape them ahead of time, too.

Along with the burgers, we would warm up buns (I went with store-bought to serve very large crowds because it wasn’t time-efficient to make all of them) on a tray in the oven just before serving.

We’d then serve the burgers with a variety of toppings like ketchup, mustard, mayo, Dill Relish, onions, cheese, etc. For the sides, we liked doing watermelon and chips.

Spaghetti Sauce From Scratch

Spaghetti with Sauce

This is an easy enough meal if you have a large stockpot to cook spaghetti in. You need to cook 2 ounces of dried pasta per person who is expected.

Keep this meal super cheap by simply putting sauce over the top or you can add in some browned hamburger to the sauce to make it more filling.

Here are my recipes for Homemade Spaghetti Sauce and another recipe for Homemade Marinara Sauce if you prefer that.

You can serve your spaghetti with a large bowl of chopped salad and some garlic bread or Homemade Breadsticks.

Baked Potatoes

Baked Potato Bar

This can be another really easy one to make ahead of time if you have a crockpot or a roaster. I like to put all my potatoes in about an inch of water in my slow cooker for a few hours before supper. Make sure to poke them with a fork or knife first.

With your baked potatoes, you can serve:

  • Chili
  • Baked Beans
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • Queso
  • Chives
  • Sauteed Onions

Or just about anything else that your family would enjoy on top of a baked potato! I like to use my home-canned chili for this because it’s ready to go. This makes a really nice filling meal that’s super cheap.

Pancakes and fruit.

Breakfast for Supper

A favorite of the kids has always been the classic breakfast for supper. To pull this off, we make a huge batch of pancakes and a large pan of breakfast sausages and serve it along with fruit.

This is our favorite Homemade Pancake recipe, and I usually have the mix on hand in my pantry. The breakfast sausage we like is from Costco. Just put that in a roaster pan in the oven and heat until warm and sizzly (if it’s precooked, which most are).

Pancakes I make on our big flat-top grill outside. This way, I can make a huge amount of them all at once.

When I don’t have fresh fruit, I serve the pancakes with my canned fruit. My kids love to put it on top of their pancakes before they add the maple syrup. Canned blueberries are the favorite around here.

I hope these give you some ideas for affordable meals for large groups! We were able to make these meals and served so many people good, filling foods without too much hassle or stress.

What meals do you make for a crowd?

Me and Kady

Merissa Alink

Merissa has been blogging about and living the simple and frugal life on Little House Living since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to freedom on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.

This article with Affordable Meals for Large Groups was originally posted on Little House Living in March 2024.

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One Comment

  1. This is good. I’ll be hosting both a confirmation part and less than a month later a graduation party. My plan is to have pulled meats for confirmation then take those leftovers add to it and have a taco bar for graduation. My crockpots will be working overtime but it’ll be worth it. Plus it’ll keep my celiac graduate daughter safe, the extra bonus