Cooking For a Large Group on a Tight Budget

Cooking for a large group on a tight budget can often be difficult. However, there are many ways to cut the budget and improve costs!

To cook for a large group on a tight budget requires individuals to create and stick to a budget while grocery shopping. When cooking for a group, it is essential to carefully meal prep, and plan meals that can be made in a large amount, but are also inexpensive to purchase.

Although it may seem tempting to take a large group to a restaurant rather than cook for them, there is no need to fear! With these simple and easy tips, it will eliminate the financial fears of cooking for a large group.

Have a grocery list

While this tip may seem obvious, it is shocking how many people will head to their local grocery store without a grocery list. They will wander the grocery store aisles aimlessly hoping to find food that will be able to feed their large group.

By planning a grocery list, you will save both time and money. Having a grocery list will eliminate the temptation to buy unneeded items that are not required for your meal preparations.

In addition, having a grocery list will put an end to forgetting items. Rather than getting home from the grocery store and starting to prepare your meals then realizing you forgot one key ingredient, you can have an easy reminder of everything you need to get.

Have and stick to a budget

Planning a budget is one thing, however, sticking to the budget is another. Sticking to a budget requires self-discipline and self-control.

When cooking meals for a large group, it may be worrisome when thinking about the financial aspect of it. However, planning a budget can reduce such worries.

In order to stick to a budget, it is first important to have a set budget already planned. To stick to the budget, remember to not buy anything that is not already on your grocery list.

One of the most important things to remember while creating your budget is to only spend the money you currently have. In other words, do not be tempted to use your credit or debit card. If possible, try to use cash as the payment option while buying groceries for a large group.

While making a grocery budget for a large group it is important to remember to first list your priorities. If an item somehow manages to slip itself into the grocery list that you do not absolutely need, do not buy it! By eliminating this unessential cost, it will eliminate the financial risk of cooking for a large group.

By having a predetermined grocery list, it will allow for a predetermined budget. In the process of making a budget, round the cost of groceries up.

For example, if a carton of eggs happens to cost two dollars and fifty cents, round the cost up to three dollars. Rounding up the cost of your groceries will make your budget more expensive, however, it will most likely cause you to eliminate items that are not absolutely needed.

Meal prep

Not only will meal prepping save money, but it will also save time, as does having a grocery list and a budget.

Although many believe that meal preparations cost more money and require an extensive amount of time to do, this is simply not true. Meal preparations save a large amount of money and require far less time to do than it takes to cook every meal throughout the week.

Especially while planning meals for a large group, it is very important to remember to have a large amount of food. However, meal planning will eliminate the excess food. When cooking for a large group, time and money are two key components you may worry about. However, meal prepping will reduce both of these fears.

One of the first steps to meal prepping is organizing your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. By doing so, it will allow for a much easier time finding your ingredients and knowing what items you already own, and therefore do not need to buy.

One of the most important tips for meal prepping is to start in your own pantry. If you need a certain ingredient for your meals, make sure you do not already own it before you purchase it! By doing this, it can save an enormous amount of money.

Create a calendar! Make a planner to decide when you are going to plan these meals and when you are going to cook these meals. By doing so, it will allow you to plan accordingly and will help keep you organized.

It is no secret that meal prepping saves a lot of money, however, you may be wondering how much money this saves. To cook for a large group of ten people, it can cost no more than sixty dollars. There are even ways to reduce this number with these further tips.

Grocery shopping

Shop in bulk. When buying for a large group, it is essential to buy foods in bulk. This will slash prices if done correctly. However, it is important to do research on how to buy in bulk before spending an excessive amount of money.

One of the biggest mistakes is buying foods in bulk that may not be needed in bulk. This is why meal prepping is so important. By planning meals, it will help you to know how much of each ingredient is needed.

While shopping in bulk, a useful and simple tip is remembering the price per unit or ounce. By remembering this, you can then compare it with other stores to see which option is cheaper.

Compare grocery store prices. Cooking for a large group can be inexpensive depending on what grocery store you go to. If you are buying in bulk, grocery stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club are cost-efficient options. If you do not need to buy in bulk, stores such as Walmart and WinCo often offer competitive prices for basic ingredients which can save money.

One important strategy to implement while grocery shopping is remembering that certain stores will price match. If you happen to be at Walmart and you see an item they have that is more expensive than a competitor’s, Walmart will price match it for you. Simple strategies like this can help you to save money just by knowing what the typical price of an item is.

Use coupons. When cooking for a large group as cheaply as possible, why would you not use coupons? Although shopping with coupons can be time-consuming, it is well worth it. Especially when buying a large amount of food, coupons can save a large amount of money.

Some stores have apps that will show you great deals. Many grocery stores now have options for customers to shop for and purchase groceries online free of charge, you will only need to go to the store to pick up the groceries. This method of shopping online can help you stick to your budget and easily find everything on your grocery list.

When buying in bulk, check the price of the regular amount of foods before purchasing the bulk option to see if there is a sale or coupon that will improve the price. To save the most while using coupons, start coupon stacking. By using multiple coupons on one item, it can greatly cut costs.

Do not use name brand foods. Rather than buying foods from the name brand, buy the generic option instead. This will reduce the prices and they will most likely taste exactly the same. Even if they do have a slightly different flavor, it will not be enough to make a dramatic difference, especially if the ingredients are only being used to cook with.

Cheapest meals

In addition to tips such as meal prepping, have a budget, and having a grocery list, it can be beneficial to know of these cheap meal options

  1. Spaghetti and meatballs. To make spaghetti and meatballs, it costs very little. To make this dish the only ingredients required are noodles, sauce, and ground beef. The most expensive part of spaghetti and meatballs is the ground beef. However, one pound of ground beef can be bought for as cheap as about three dollars a pound, making this dinner very inexpensive.
  2. Lasagna. Similar to spaghetti, the only ingredients needed are noodles, sauce, and ground beef. This Italian dinner can be made both quickly and inexpensively for a large group.
  3. Chicken and dumplings. This old fashioned dish is bound to be popular among a group of friends. The most expensive part of this meal is the chicken which can be bought for less than two dollars per pound.
  4. Baked mac and cheese bites. This is an extremely popular meal among large groups. Especially among parties or any group with kids.
  5. Enchiladas. This is a classic choice among groups. The only ingredients required are tortillas, beans, cheese, enchilada sauce, and the desired toppings.
  6. Pancakes. Pancakes are quick and simple to make. The most expensive part is just getting the required toppings.
  7. Salad bars. This is a very cheap option and requires little to no cooking. This is also a healthy option for guests.
  8. Hot dogs. Hot dogs are a classic all-American dish. Sixteen hotdogs cost about five dollars, making it a very cheap option.
  9. Hamburgers. Like hotdogs, this is an all-American meal that will please nearly every guest.
  10. Baked potato bar. Baked potato bars are loved by many who cook for large groups as the only preparation is cooking the potatoes and purchasing the toppings.

Anna Silver

Anna Silver is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to new go-to original recipes. Inspired by her grandmother’s love of cooking, Anna has a passion for treating the people in her life to delicious homemade food and loves to share her family recipes with the rest of the world.

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