How to Feed a Large Family on a Budget: 8 Simple Tips

If you have a large family, then you know that feeding them on a budget can be pretty difficult! But, if you want to make sure they eat healthy foods, it is even more of a challenge. So, here are some tips to help you feed a large family on a budget!

The more people you feed, the more important it is to find a system that works to save money. After all, when you multiply any splurge by 5 or 10, then you are taking way more damage to your wallet than a family of 1 or 2. So, it is even more important to help us figure out how to save money on food.

Use these eight simple tips to help you figure out how to feed a large family on a budget. 

How to Feed a Large Family on a Budget

1. Plan Your Meals Around Sales

We’ve all heard the common advice about grocery shopping on a budget: make a grocery shopping list and stick to it. However, when it comes to food shopping, however, I say: do the opposite!

The conventional wisdom is to plan what you will make for lunch or dinner and then go shopping for the ingredients.  They say having a shopping list is the best way to save money on your food budget. I guess this can help with impulse shopping if you are struggling with that. But, when you are on a tight budget, this is the best way to spend less on groceries: shop first, plan later.

When grocery shopping on a budget, especially when it’s a tight budget- I go to the store, see what’s on sale, and then plan my meals around what I find on sale. So I do a meal plan- but based on what I bought, I don’t buy based on what I plan. Shopping this way is such a simple way to save money in your grocery budget.

2. Use Building Blocks To Curb Splurges

Building blocks are the starter items for any meal. Cooking and prepping building blocks at the beginning of the week can help save you time and energy during the week. This can also help you save money because you are less likely to go out to eat or splurge on ready-made food when you have half of dinner already prepped.

I don’t need to decide what dishes I will be making in advance- I prepare the ingredients I may need. Then, I can decide every day what I am in the mood for and what works for me time-wise.

As a working mother, my goal is to get a decent supper on the table every night. Unfortunately, I don’t always have time for a “fancy” home-cooked meal, which keeps me away from take-out or unhealthy, quick kids foods like chicken nuggets and hot dogs. I can also customize the dinner based on a kid’s current preferences, as my son likes to keep me guessing what foods HE HATES!

Interested in learning more about the building blocks of food prep? Read this: No More Meal Planning! 

3. Make a Cheap and Filling Filler

Use cheap “fillers” in your meals, so everyone fills up on that rather than the more expensive main dishes. Some examples can be bread, cheap vegetables like potatoes, or soup.

Adding soup to any meal can fill you up cheaply and healthily. You can turn a regular supper into a two-course meal with one of the cheapest foods out there- and it is super easy to make.

I love making soups! Soups freeze really well, so anytime I come across an easy soup recipe that we love, I make double and freeze it. The fewer ingredients a recipe has, the cheaper it usually is- unless the one ingredient is pretty expensive.

Want to make soup? 25 Best Easy Soup Recipes

4. Go Vegan-ish

Eat more plant-based food and cut down on animal-based food and processed food. Of course, you can shop all the sales and use all the coupons and do all the tips and hacks to save money on groceries, but I am going to guess that if you are feeding a large family, then you are also taking care of a large family which means that you have no extra time on your hands.

Add to that the fact that you are trying to feed a family on a tight budget, and some drastic changes need to be made. For us, that drastic change was thinking of plant-based food as a main dish instead of animal-based foods.

Instead of eating meat, chicken, fish, or cheese as a main dish, we switched to eating various beans and tofu as the main dish instead. Doing this major diet switch helped save us tons of money on food, and we are starting to be more healthy overall. This tip will make the biggest difference when you are figuring out how to feed a large family on a budget.

5. Use Leftovers

Leftovers are the best! Whenever I cook a full meal, I do my best to cook extra so we have leftovers for snacking, lunch, or even to repurpose for another meal. This saves you even more money if you are cooking with something already on sale. The less time and energy it takes for you to prepare food, the less likely you are to turn to more expensive time-saving hacks to get you through the day.

For example, if I make a rotisserie chicken or a baked chicken dish- I take the leftovers and repurpose and stretch them into different meals for everyone to eat.

Need some ideas? Here you go!  10+ Easy Leftover Chicken Recipes

6. Snack on Fruits and Vegetables

I buy the fruits and vegetables that are in season or on sale and keep them stocked in the house. Dried fruits are usually expensive, but fresh ones usually are not. Get in the habit of eating apples instead of fancy snack bars. Keep fruit and vegetables near you at work to give you something to eat, thereby resisting the vending machine temptations. The more you get into the habit of snacking on cut veggies, the less likely you are to buy expensive snacks.

Don’t forget: if your kids see you snacking on fruits and vegetables, then they will eat them too!

7. Shop Online

Amazon and Walmart sometimes have sales of healthy food that you can buy in bulk or get delivered. Keep a running list of how much things usually cost so that you can make sure you’re getting a good deal. And when a good deal comes along- snag it! Buy two and keep some in your pantry.

If you are the type of person who finds it difficult not to buy all the things when you go shopping in-store, then consider doing all your shopping online to help avoid temptation.

8. Cut Out Pre-Packaged Snacks and Drinks

This one is basic but worth repeating. Don’t buy pre-packaged snacks, food, or drinks.  These snacks and drinks are usually high in sugar, salt, or chemicals and add up really quickly. The low-calorie or “healthy” snacks are usually expensive and not so healthy! Instead, make your own food, eat fruits and vegetables, and cut down on drinks that aren’t water. Water isn’t free, but it sure is cheap!

Related: Eating Healthy Food on a Budget


The weather may be warm and sunny, but the grocery list never seems to get any shorter. Feeding a hungry family can be difficult on any budget and even harder when you’re trying to feed a large family on a tight budget. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to feed your family without spending too much money.

How do you feed your large family on a budget?

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Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.

3 thoughts on “How to Feed a Large Family on a Budget: 8 Simple Tips”

  1. I used to spend so much money on cookies and other snacks. Now, I encourage my children go bake as a fun activity. It’s way, way cheaper, yummier, teaches them great life skills, and (can be) healthier!

  2. These are some great tips! We are mostly vegetarian now but we used to buy a large chunk of meat (pork shoulder etc.) at Costco on sale and then cook it different ways for as long as it lasts.

  3. A Dime Saved I am impressed. For years now I have always felt as a teacher that Financial Literacy should start at 3rd grade. You Millennials are stepping up. I am 73 and would love to blog from my wisdom.
    Never got it off the ground but would love to learn.
    And Lea baking is amazing. Life skills are the answer.


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