What to Cook for Dinner with a Group of People for Not Much Money??

Updated on December 06, 2014
K.B. asks from Fort Worth, TX
31 answers

Okay, so during the holidays our family of two becomes a family of nine. What can I make that's not crazy expensive for a group of nine people? I have to plan for seven dinners. I need ideas! Thanks ladies and gents.

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Denver on

Rice and beans. Cook the rice and beans and keep them separate and you can make them into a variety of meals each night for a week with a few ingredients added (add chicken or other veggies) - just mix it up each night, and sauté the cooked rice and beans with new ingredients, and it won't feel like you are eating the same thing over and over.

Spaghetti (kids love spaghetti).

Chili, cheese, and crackers

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Pasta is filling, tasty and cheap. If you do a nice tomato basil marinara, or a pesto parmesan dish you will have plenty of flavor without meat (which can be expensive.) Add some garlic bread and a big simple salad and you have an elegant meal.
Also don't be afraid to do a potluck, or at least ask people to contribute sides, desserts and drinks. Spread it around, we do it all the time. Not only is it less costly and less work for you it's more communal and fun!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Pasta, with or without meat in the sauce

Cottage pie (shepherd's pie made with beef instead of lamb)

Red beans and rice, with or without sausage

Omelets and biscuits

Chicken stew over rice or quinoa

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Washington DC on


That's a fair amount of people...

Night one: Spaghetti w/salad and garlic bread.
Night two: Chili with corn bread
Night three: Sesame chicken and rice. Add in broccoli or snow peas.
Night four: Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy.
Night five: enchiladas - you can do cheese, chicken or beef or mix it up
Night six: Pot Roast - with potatoes, veggies.
Night seven: Go out to eat. LOL!!

What about breakfast??

There is a great bisquick, egg, cheese and sausage recipe that feeds a crowd....send me a message if you want the recipe.

French Toast and bacon
Pancakes and bacon

Lunches?? subs...

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

1. Spaghetti, garlic bread, salad. (Brown 4lbs of burger total, use half in your sauce, and set aside half for taco night)

2. Burgers, beans, chips.

3. 3 Rotisserie chickens from the store, veggies, rice.

4. Tacos (use burger set aside from spaghetti night).

5. Pizzas (premade crusts, couple cans of pizza sauce, cheese, pepperoni, canned olives and mushrooms). Assemble and bake yourselves and save a lot of money.

6. Chili and cornbread.

7. Loaded baked potatoes (do them in the crockpot and fill with chili from last night or leftover taco stuff)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Danville on




Or make it a pot luck, and assign each some sides!

**But with this menu, all x mas colors ARE represented!!**

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Ground Beef Stroganoff is always a hit with my family and good comfort food.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Chicken and Noodles
Beef Stew
Homemade marinara with pasta
Chicken Broccoli Divan casserole
Large dish of lasagna
Pulled Pork in the crock pot and make sandwiches
Large baked ham and use the trimmings and bone to make soup

Use your imagination! Also, how about some potluck?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Turkey! They will all be on sale now so get a frozen turkey and put it in the freezer, borrowing room in a friend's freezer if you have to. Buy the bread that's going on sale now and freeze it. Stale bread is perfect for stuffing. You can add in bagged stuffing if you have to - that's going on sale too. Use the leftovers from one night to make a big pot of soup, using the carcass and the little bits of meat too small for anything else. Soup/stew is pretty forgiving because there's no real recipe - just use who's left over and what's in the freezer and what's on sale - mix it up.

Beans are cheap. Stock up on cans or even buy the dried ones - yes, they need soaking but you can do that with good planning or you can use the crockpot. Make chili (with meat or no meat) in the crockpot or let it simmer all day when everyone is hanging around. You can use ground turkey, ground beef, ground turkey or bits of leftovers. Canned tomato sauce/puree is cheap, and you can add onions (even frozen diced onions) and peppers (also frozen). Frozen vegetables are quick-frozen after picking and, especially in the winter, have more nutrition than the fresh version picked weeks ago and shipped from another country.

Enchiladas are easy and can be made with lots of items, and they feed a crowd. I use the large tortillas and spread a strip of refried beans down the center, then top with any mix of beans (black, kidney, pinto, white), fresh or frozen peppers/onions/corn (no need to defrost, just put some in there), cheddar or Monterey Jack or taco cheese (all cheaper if you buy on sale and grate in a food processor instead of the pre-shredded kind), and any cooked meat you are trying to get rid of (again, a good use for cooked chicken, turkey, ground beef etc.). Do all this down the center 1/3 of the tortilla, then fold the 2 sides up and lap one side over the other and secure with a toothpick. You can do all this ahead of time and it's a good task for an assembly line of helpers. Anyone who doesn't eat a particular item can put 2 toothpicks in their own enchilada. Line the enchiladas up on a baking sheet, and refrigerate until later if necessary. Top with more tomato sauce or puree and a little extra cheese, bake at 350 for about 20 or 25 minutes. Serve with a big pot of brown rice - you can replace some of the water in the rice with tomato sauce. If you like seasonings, add cumin and either ground coriander or dried cilantro to the tomato sauce going on top and/or to the rice.

Eggs are cheap and have a lot of protein - frittatas are easy. It's basically a quiche without a crust. Bake in a quiche dish or pie plate - you can make a couple of different kinds. Frozen spinach or frozen chopped broccoli make good fillings, with or without onions, and you can even throw in leftover spaghetti.

Be sure that one night is "Refrigerator Clean Out" and let everyone choose their favorites from the past few nights. Get rid of leftovers and don't worry about who likes what.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

You don't mention any restrictions, so here it goes:

I make a crock pot of stew with 1 steak, 1 clove garlic, 1 large potato, 1 tomato, 3-4 carrots, 1 stalk of celery, 1/2 onion (chopped), 1/2 zucchini, 1 small can tomato sauce, chicken/veggie/beef stock, and you can add a hand full of cooked pasta if you like.

I usually have everything except the potato cut and if I am in a hurry, I place the steak in the pot to brown, remove it and set it aside, then toss the veggies in the pot until they are browned, and then add the stock, sauce, and steak. If it is not enough, add grilled cheese sandwiches.

A precooked chicken is pretty inexpensive. You can add veggies and rice or potatoes.

Boil the left over chicken and carcass to make soup the next day. Serve soup and simple sandwiches.

A quiche would be good for breakfast.

If you have a safeway/vons, you can get a variety of premade sandwiches from their deli. The 8th or 10th one should be fee with your Vons club card. It is here in Vegas. Add a potato salad. Trader Joes has the best potato salad.
Oh, cut the sandwiches in 3rds or 4ths.

Have a pizza/pasta/salad night. You can make the pasta and salad and order the pizza.

Beans, tacos, burritos, tostadas. Set everything out so they can build their own. You can buy the rice at most restaurants or a Latin market for very cheap.

Baked chicken wings. You can spread them on a cookie sheet and season.

That's all I've got.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Let's see - 7 dinners.
A big pot of chili (1)
If you have a Christmas ham (2), you can use the bone and some meat to make up a good bean soup (3).
There's nothing wrong with home made mac n cheese (4).
A lasagna isn't bad either (5).
A turkey (6)
and something from turkey and/or ham leftovers(7).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

1. Spaghetti w/ marinara sauce or meat sauce, green salad, garlic bread, +/- green beans.

2. Roast chicken (buy 2 big roasting chickens, not the little fryers and then carve them like a turkey, rather than quarter them), roasted root vegetables (cube a bunch of potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, turnips/rutabagas and beets - if you eat beets - toss in olive oil, throw in a big bunch of peeled garlic cloves - a couple of heads is the right amount, sprinkle with sea salt and roast) and a green salad.

3. Black bean chili and rice, salad, corn bread if you are truly motivated.

4. Frittata (less fussy than omelettes, great for dinner and you don't have to make a crust like a quiche - eggs, potatoes, a little cheese, whatever veggies you have on hand, maybe a little bacon or sausage - great way to stretch these), steamed broccoli, crusty bread.

5. Stew - I would probably do a veggie one (lots of Moosewood recipes for these) but a beef stew with lots of potatoes and carrots wouldn't be terribly expensive. Serve over wide noodles with a salad, sauteed carrots if you didn't put carrots in the stew.

6. Chicken pot pie. Roast an extra chicken day one. (Make a crust. Put in par boiled carrots and either snap peas or frozen peas), salad.

7. Go out. You deserve it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Day 1 Italian Beef Sandwiches
Day 2 Pulled pork sandwiches
Day 3 taco ranch Chicken
Day 4 Baked Mosticolli
Day 5 Chicken and Rice Casserole
Day 6 Beef Barley Soup made with the left over italian beef
Day 7 Chicken enchilada's made from the left over taco ranch chicken

I have crock pot recipes for all the ones not pasta some of these if you want them let me know. they are super easy and really good.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

A make your own fajita bar. Marinate some flank steak and chicken and grill it. Slice it thin and serve it with tortillas and lots of toppings. Add a salad and some beans and it's a delicious and affordable meal. Another nice meal that is even less expensive is baked stuffed shells. Serve with salad and garlic bread.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Casseroles tend to be easy and cheap if you find the right ones. I'm from Minnesota (land of the hot dish) but that way you could also make it in advance and not worry about cooking while entertaining.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I don't see anyone saying baked potato bar or sloppy joes. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

something in the crock pot (cheap meat, veggies, a can of broth, whatever yo have on hand)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

All good/easy suggestions so far. I wanted to add a couple of things…

breakfast for dinner, pretty cheap and easy and you can make a big pan of scrambled eggs or an egg bake, french toast casserole, etc.

pulled pork in the crock pot-a pork butt, one can/bottle of root beer, cook for 8 hours, shred with two forks, add one bottle of sauce with another on the side.

Also, something that my family does when we get really big during the holidays is the host asks each family unit or couple to be in charge of at least one dinner (or breakfast or whatever) and that family does the shopping and cooking/cleaning up for it. This way it saves the host a little bit of money and time. We do this even if we're all staying in one house or if people are at a hotel and then come to the house to eat. No one complains about it and we all sort of feel better being able to chip in. If you give people advance notice they can plan and bring their recipes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Slow cooker carnitas recipe fm all recipies just double the spice. Then do refried without the refried in your crock pot the day before. Make up some rice, and gauc, and have a feast.

Pasta and meatballs. Make your own meatballs. I love the exellent meatballs from the foodnetwork. We do them on the grill and it makes clean up easy. They freeze great too, so you could make them now and then just pull them out the day you want them,

Soup and sandwich

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Asheville on

Spaghetti and meatballs. It's my go-to for a large group.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Contact your local grocer or chicken place and order fried chicken. I did this last year for Christmas and everyone enjoyed the meal. I made the sides like mashed potatoes, baked beans, salad, fruit salad, green bean casserole, and I bought dinner rolls at Sam's Club. Also, do up a ribbon jello to add to this delicious meal. You can also pick up desserts at Sam's which for me, is less work than baking my own and costs less. My other suggestion would be a mosstacioli dish or frozen raviolis with a good pasta sauce. Add garlic bread and a salad to it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Tried and true... spaghetti, sauce (jarred) meatballs (frozen) garlic bread, and salad (bagged).

You could make it more interesting if you want- "pasta bar" with a couple different kinds of pastas or sauces (like a pesto, garlic cream or whatever) .

Big pot of chili + pan of cornbread
Burrito night
baked chicken in some sauce with a side of steamed veggies
Pizza night
Sloppy Joes or Pulled Pork sandwiches, side of cole slaw (bagged cabbage and jarred dressing)



answers from Washington DC on

Mexican! Tacos and Fajitas are great but if you really want to save money go meatless! Do burrito bowls. Rice, Black beans, corn salsa, peppers and onions, a little cheese and lettuce. It can all be thrown together in the amount of time it takes to cook the rice.



answers from Chicago on

We always make a big ham dinner with potatoes, salad, etc. The next day we have ham & scrambled eggs for breakfast and ham sandwiches for lunch. Finally, we take the bone, any pan juices, bits of ham and make a delicious ham and bean soup! Lots of mileage out of 1 ham.
We also do BBQ chicken on the grill, stir fries (don't need a lot of meat per serving), enchiladas, Costco frozen lasagnas, meat loaf (easier than burgers). 1 night everyone chips in and we order pizza and make a big salad. Good luck and have fun!
(on vacation, my siblings and I all save our grocery receipts, everyone takes charge of 1 dinner, and at the end we divide by # of people in our family and share the cost. 7 meals is a lot to take on solo - maybe this would help out?)



answers from Missoula on

Tomato soup and grilled cheese
Chili and cornbread
Beef Stew
Chicken and dumplings



answers from Los Angeles on

Chicken soup/bread
Chicken salad
Meatloaf, gravy, potatoes
Meatballs on buns
Steak salads (just a bit of steak on each)
Homemade pizza/pepperoni rolls
Chili & good bread



answers from Oklahoma City on

Why not let them cook some of their family favorites a few times per week? That way it's not all on you...



answers from Beaumont on

Beef stew with French bread!



answers from Dallas on

I usually do a pasta dish. Like 4 cheese baked ziti, lasagna or spaghetti even the frozen kind and garlic bread. Sometimes I buy the frozen kind cook it for 45 mins then add some extra cheese and spices the. Let it finish cooking so it's not just straight out of the box taste and I can tweak it for our liking...



answers from Denver on

do about 4 chicken breast (frozen) a can of black beans drained, can of corn drained, a jar of salsa. place everything in the crock pot and cook on lw for about 8 hours. about 6 hours in the chicken should shred. About 30 minutes before eating put block of cream cheese and stir it around til it melts. Then serve as burritos. Its really good. If half of these 9 are children then this recipe should feed everyone.


answers from San Francisco on

Chili. Here's my favorite recipe, and it feeds more than nine (even if they're more than politely hungry): http://allrecipes.com/recipe/boilermaker-tailgate-chili/d...

You can even make it a day ahead and just re-heat it before serving (in fact, it can be even better that way). Serve it with a green salad and some cornbread (just use the Jif brand - super easy, cheap, and tasty)!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions