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Oh my goodness…it’s been so long since I posted week 3 of this Large Family Living series. And I’ve been so sick the past two months that I totally forgot about week 4. That is until a reader commented on week 3 that she can’t wait to read week 4. Uh…guess I better get on that!! So, today I’m finishing the Large Family Living Series. Better late than never, right?!
When we had our first child it was so easy to just let him eat off our plate at restaurants or at home, especially when he wouldn’t finish an entire kid’s meal anyway. Why waste the money, right?! The same was pretty much true with our 2nd child and even our 3rd since by this time our 1st child was eating an entire kid’s meal by himself.
Then, our income dropped and we needed to save money – and fast! Now up to this point you could probably count on one hand the number of meals I knew how to cook and the number of times I had cooked them – seriously it was pathetic.
But, once I started organizing our meals by Meal Planning weekly, it made our life so much easier!! I was amazed at how much difference a little planning made. And really, it’s the same principle when cooking for a large family.
PLANNING IS KEY!!!
Did you plan the food for your wedding reception? Have you ever planned the food/snacks for a baby shower? Well, planning for your families meals is no different. You may not be feeding 50 people, but you still need a plan. A great way to get started is to plan your meals on a weekly basis. Start with planning dinner, then breakfast and then lunches. Or jump in with both feet and plan everything – down to your snacks.
Next, pick out your families favorite recipes and see if they are doable in larger portions. As I have found out, some things do not double or triple well. You simply have to make 2 batches and cook them separately. Those are foods we eat rarely. But, anything with ground beef (we use ground turkey) is easily doubled. But be careful, there are some recipes, or rather ingredients, that don’t double well – or for that matter don’t halve well.
Some of our favorite meals, which are easily doubled (or even tripled) include:
Another family favorite is homemade pizza. But, this recipe is NOT one you can double, mostly because the single dough recipe will take up your entire mixing bowl. However, if you find yourself making more than 2 pizzas (each recipe yields 2 pizza crusts), it is definitely better to make the next batch of dough while you’re cooking the first pizza. And topping it while you’re cooking the second pizza. Trust me on this one. I did this several months ago and it worked great. A little hectic in the kitchen, but it worked.
Now that we have some recipes and know we can easily double them. How do you shop for food for a large family? Well, I have several ideas on this one. One thing that will make a HUGE difference in your shopping is, once again, theMEALPLANNING!!!! I can’t stress it enough. Not only will the meal plans help keep you organized during the week, but it will also cut down your grocery bill because you’re only buying what you need for your meals. It’s been a life-saver for our family.
Some great places and ways to get deals on food are:
Sam’s – if you have a large family that consumes a lot of food or just growing teenage boys!
Aldi – you can get great deals on produce and meat (Wednesday’s they have their meat sales) if you watch their circulars.
You can also cut coupons and ad-match to get the most “bang for your buck” as they say. Now, I don’t cut coupons because we do the bulk of our shopping at Aldi and get everything else at Wal-Mart or Target. (We don’t have some of those fancy-dan, great coupon stores here where I live. You know, Costco and others you see on that Extreme Couponing show. Don’t get me started on that soap box either…we’re moving on…)
Another absolutely wonderful and amazing resource we use is Bountiful Baskets. This is a type of co-op group where you “contribute” money for produce. There are pick-up sites all over theU.S. You can find one near you by going to their website (linked above).
The main basket is $15 (plus a $3 fee the first time you order).
There are various add-ons each time that range from Mexican to Italian.
Sometimes they even have produce add-ons of one specific fruit. They usually have a bread add-on that looks pretty good. I have never personally gotten it though (I like to make our own bread!). I love this organization because its run solely by volunteers, so as to keep your costs to a minimum. I also love the amount of produce you get for your contribution (the money you pay in). If your family loves fruits and veggies or lots of salad this is definitely worth checking out! And…if there’s not one in your area you can always check into getting one started. It all depends on where the trucks deliver.
Speaking of produce, another great resource is the Farmer’s Market!! If you have one in your area, you can get some great prices on fresh produce, homegrown right in your area. Not to mention the learning experiences it can offer!
Now, how do you make the “switch” to cooking for a large family? Well, I hate to tell you, but there’s no exact formula. Bummer I know. A lot of it is trial and error as far as portions go. With that said, you will need to start paying attention to how much your family eats of the dishes you make. One GREAT way to do this is keep track of it right on your recipe sheet or keep a recipe “diary”. I usually write right on the recipe sheet, which I print out from my computer (where all my recipes are stored in a database). I keep my printed recipes in a large binder, filed under categories. So, when I file that particular recipe away with the information on it about leftovers, etc. its right there when I need it the next time. Keeping those kinds of records also makes it easier to figure out how much to make for a larger crowd like a family gathering.
Making the “switch” is easier than you think. You simply need to adjust the recipes your family already loves. Yeah for a while you may have tons of leftovers or you may have to add some potato chips to finish up the meal because it didn’t go quite as far as you thought it would. But, trust me…they won’t starve in the meantime!! Oh your 7 year old may try to convince you that he is starving to death. He may even roll on the floor and pretend to writhe in pain. But it’s just the drama of a 7 yr old – trust me!
What tips do you have for Cooking for a large family? What’s your favorite Large Family Recipe?
Feel free to leave me a comment or a link to your favorite organization post/site!!