Feeding Large Groups
I’ve been feeding large groups of people for 15+ years. High school groups, college students, and adult small groups have been in a regular rotation around my dinner table.
I also come from a family that exemplified hospitality so well. Growing up, my parents regularly opened their doors to my friends, their friends, their friends’ friends, and more. I grew up seeing my parents feed groups of people and now find myself doing the same.
It’s worth noting that our kitchen table and the food that goes on it isn’t all that fancy. The truth is, 95% of people don’t care about that stuff. The important thing is that they feel welcome, loved, and nourished in our home. Since we do make it a regular habit of feeding groups of people, our meals need to be somewhat inexpensive but still feed a large group!
Because I am so often making meals for large groups of people, I’m constantly on the lookout for meals that are tasty AND feed large groups.
I created this round up of inexpensive, group dinner ideas more for my sake. I needed a reference to go to when I have a crowd coming over and my only idea is spaghetti or pancakes. Hopefully it will prove to be useful to you, too!
On to the easy meals!
20+ Inexpensive, Easy Meals for Large Groups
The key to this recipe for large groups is in the homemade BBQ sauce. Once it’s in the slow cooker, it’s pretty much hands off which is something I need when I have people coming over. And guys, this recipe is GOOD. So good that it made it into our newest cookbook. Try our Asian Slaw on the side.
Pssttt! It’d be a huge bummer if you overcooked or undercooked a slow cooker meal for your group. Make sure to download our Slow Cooker Cooking Times Chart below.
After testing hundreds of slow cooker recipes for our website and cookbooks, we have narrowed down the perfect cooking times for almost any type of slow cooker recipe. You’ll want this one-page resource – I promise!
This recipe feeds an army. Almost everybody loves the hearty, beefy, cheesy pasta. Serve it with some garlic bread and a salad and you’ve got a great meal for your next group. When I’m not hosting groups, I assemble this pasta, divide it in two, bake one, and freeze the other. It makes a GREAT freezer meal. Just be sure to undercook the noodles a tad if you’re going to freeze it. Here are 70+ other great freezer meals!
Everyone loves breakfast for dinner! Guests will oooh and ahhhh over this gourmet Crockpot Breakfast Casserole at your next brunch or holiday gathering. Its depth of flavor and beautiful color come from the bacon, onions, garlic, kale, roasted red peppers, and Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses. Bonus: It’s naturally gluten-free.
These slow cooker carnitas are one of my all-time favorite, inexpensive dinners for large groups . They are easy, affordable, delicious and can be customized for each person’s preference. This recipe is from our cookbook, From Freezer to Table, but if you don’t have that Pulled Pork with a Mexican Flare is pretty similar!
When I made this Chicken Spaghetti recipe for the first time, my husband ate it for about 5 meals in a row and proceeded to ask me to make it again the next week. It’s creamy, flavorful, and filling. This recipe easily makes TWO 8×8 dishes or one very full 9×13 dish. It’s a great dinner idea that will feed a group of people!
These truly are one of my go-to group recipes. They are cheap and easy to make in mass quantity. AND, adults love them. Kids love them. Everyone loves them. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked for this recipe after making it for people in my home.
To make this a meal for large groups, simply double the portion in the slow cooker. It’ll cook for the same amount of time, and you’ll have twice as much to feed people! You can also make them in the Instant Pot using this method. I always always always double this recipe when I make them and freeze one for later.
Meatballs are so easy to make lots and lots of. You can use them to put over spaghetti or stretch them even further by putting them in sub sandwiches. These are pretty cost efficient, as well.
This recipe goes a looong way. While you can make the meat ahead of time, the sandwiches will need to be eaten soon after they are assembled. Keep that in mind as you plan! If you want to use it as a lunch for groups, just make the meat the day before and rewarm it before assembling the sandwiches the next day.
If I had to guess, this is in the top 5 recipes I have made most frequently for groups of people in my home. My husband wants it ALL. THE. TIME. It also makes a big ol’ batch. AND it’s really filling. Serve it with some tortilla chips and with shredded cheddar cheese and you’re people will be happy campers. We loved this recipe so much that we even adapted it to be made in the slow cooker.
This decadent, comforting Cheddar and Bacon Potato Soup makes your home smell amazing and so welcoming to guests after it slow cooks all day. It’s filling and a total crowd pleaser.
Looking for a super easy meal idea to make for a group of people? This recipe has been one of our most popular blog recipes for a long time. Probably because it’s so easy to make and everyone likes it. After baking the casserole, serve it over some pasta. For a group, I’d recommend doubling it to make enough for a 9×13 dish.
This recipe is in our free e-cookbook, Top 10 Easy Freezer Meals. You can download this, print it off, and have it for future reference when looking for great freezer meals. Many of the meals in this ebook will work GREAT for groups of people too!
Bacon, marinated grilled chicken, two kinds of cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes wrapped in a tortilla with ranch salsa sauce. What’s not to love about the Southwest Bacon and Chicken Wrap? I love creating meals that people can customize to their liking. It’s easy to double the chicken and other ingredients and just lay out an assembly line.
Beefy Baked Ravioli (Fake Out Lasagna)
This fake-out lasagna is inexpensive, can be made in advance, and feeds an army! It’s a dinnertime favorite in my home. It’s very easy to make, super filling, and is freezer friendly. Kids love this meal. Who we kidding, all ages love this meal!
Here is another SUPER easy meal idea for groups of people: Chicken Parmesan Sliders. Just put a few ingredients into the crockpot and you’ll have one of your favorite meals for a busy night. Making them into sandwiches is a great way to stretch the chicken mix and feed more people.
Here’s my husband’s and my favorite enchilada recipe. If you want to go lighter on the cheese, these enchiladas are really quite good for you. With the chicken, beans, vegetables, and whole wheat tortillas, you’re getting some great lean protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.If you’re making this for kids, you may want to pull back on the spice a bit. Double it for a large group!
I realize there are many paths to an excellent homemade roast, but this one I researched and have tested MANY times over the years. This real food Pot Roast, along with some Homemade Wheat Sandwich Bread to sop up the sauce, might well be my favorite comfort meal of all time.
If you’re hosting in the fall or winter, this delicious drink is a total crowd-pleaser. Not to mention it makes the house smell AMAZING.
Breakfast for dinner is always fun for a group! Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal is a great place to start. Not only are the ingredients cheap and the assembly instructions simple, but people just really love this recipe! We have lots of variations of baked oatmeals on the blog. Just poke around our breakfast category in our recipe index. Pancakes are always a win too
This one-pot wonder is packed with flavor, but is also vegetarian! This winning combination of ingredients and flavors is sure to impress your family and friends. Just might win the award for the easiest (yet still super tasty) recipe on our blog.
Everyone, from ages 4 to 42, devoured this tender, flavorful meat dish. I have served it with mashed potatoes (and of course veggies and fruit), which is perfect for all that extra sauce in the crock. Then, the next night we had this same Slow Cooker Shredded Balsamic Beef on mini wheat rolls as “french dip” sandwiches. A great idea on making this stretch for a large group.
I had to include one dessert idea. Mini Fruit Pizzas are one of my favorites to serve to a crowd. They are really easy to put together and all ages enjoy them. Each person makes their own so they can pick and choose what goes on their fruit pizza. It’s a fun way to wrap up a group gathering!
This is one of my husband’s favorite recipes to make for a group. The pork shoulder (also known as a pork butt) smokes all day and yields a HUGE amount of delicious pulled pork. We turn them into pulled pork BBQ sandwiches. The leftovers freeze great too!
Bonus Recipes for Groups of People
If you own our latest cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, all of our recipes for large groups can be found on page 246! Every recipe works in BOTH the Instant Pot AND the slow cooker.