7 Easy Meal Ideas for Feeding a Large Family
The hustle and bustle of a large family is fun, interesting, and full of love, but it can also get pretty hectic come dinnertime if you don’t already have something planned. By having an arsenal of ideas for easy-to-make meals, you can spend more time enjoying your family and less time wondering how you’re going to feed everyone.
Whether you make it on the stovetop or decide to cook it in a crockpot or two, it’s easy to grab the ingredients and make large batches for feeding the family. There are hundreds of chili recipes to choose from, so you can opt for beef versions, turkey versions, or even vegetarian chili. If you’re using crockpots and have a family that can never agree on what to eat, you can even make two different kinds. Simply brown the meat, throw all the ingredients into your pot, and let them simmer as you enjoy time with the kids.
Have Chicken and Rice Bowls
If your family loves Mexican food, they’ll love chicken and rice bowls for dinner. Cooking rice in large batches doesn’t take long at all, and if you don’t have the time to prepare chicken strips and grill or bake them, you can use pre-cooked strips from your grocery store’s frozen food aisle. Add cilantro, lime juice, and some peppers and provide sour cream, salsa, or guacamole as toppings.
Create a Sandwich Station
Sandwiches are a terrific option for a particularly hot summer evening or if you have a busy night of extracurricular activities. Set out a variety of breads, buns, or pitas along with peanut butter, jelly, and several types of lunchmeat. Lettuce, tomato, cheese, and cucumber makes perfect toppings, and condiments such as mayonnaise and mustard complete the sandwich station. Serve with fresh fruit, veggies and dip, or potato chips.
Throw Together a Casserole
Casseroles are often a go-to for busy families of all sizes, and because they are easily freezable, you can make several of them in advance and heat them up as you need them. You can create versions using chicken, noodles, broccoli, and cheese, beef and noodles, vegetarian options, or even breakfast-style casseroles with sauce, eggs, potatoes, and cheese. Casseroles are large and filling, so they are sure to leave everyone in the family satisfied.
Cook a Giant Pot of Pasta
Whether spaghetti, macaroni, penne, or any of the dozens of other pastas, noodles are quick to boil and can be topped with practically anything. Use spaghetti sauce, beef or sausage, and cheddar cheese for a hearty meal, or if your family prefers, add cubed chicken, Alfredo sauce, and mozzarella cheese. There are plenty of ways to make pasta in crockpots, so if your family can’t agree on which kind they want, you can take an idea from the chili recipes and make two different types of pasta.
Have a Big Breakfast
Who can resist scrambled eggs, pancakes, and sausage? Make a giant pile of each, provide a variety of syrups and fruits for topping the pancakes, and let everyone serve themselves buffet-style. Breakfast foods are delicious at any time of day, so you can do this in the morning before a busy day, as lunch after Saturday morning soccer games, or for dinner any night of the week.
Get Rid of Those Leftovers
Even large families sometimes find they have leftovers after dinner. Save them by freezing them for later meals. Once every couple of weeks, pull out and heat up all the leftovers from the last two weeks and let everyone grab what they want. Not only is this method easy on the cook, but it also prevents food waste, which not only saves you money, but is also good for the environment.
Don’t Forget About Dessert
If your big family has a big sweet tooth, you’re going to need dessert. Purchase pre-mixed cookie dough such as the gluten-free version created by Hampton Creek and bake them as needed. You can have each of the traditional flavors on their own, add your own unique ingredients to the dough to create something more unique, bake tiny cookies, medium-sized cookies, or one giant one, or even used your baked goods as the sandwiching that holds your ice cream in place. The possibilities are practically endless.
Whether you have many children under the age of 10, children of varying ages, or your family is large because grandparents have moved in, these easy-to-make meal ideas will ensure you spend less time standing by a hot stove and more time enjoying the company of your loved ones.