Feeding a crowd can be a real headache. Not to mention, it can be pretty expensive.

Whether you have an extremely big family or you’re going to invite your friends over tonight, check out these fabulously delicious inexpensive dinner ideas for a crowd. They will feed up to 12 people and won’t break the bank.

There’s a mix of recipes for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.

inexpensive dinner ideas for a crowd

1. Crockpot Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Vegetarians make this crockpot chili for freezing, but you can use the recipe to feed a crowd on a budget.

Although the soup is all veggies and beans, it’s hearty, delicious, and nutrient-packed. Top your bowl with some rich sour cream or shredded cheddar and you’ll crave this meal again and again. Get the recipe here.

2. One-Pot Sloppy Joe Noodle Skillet

Quick and easy to cook, One-Pot Sloppy Joe Noodle Skillet is a healthier alternative to a popular boxed dinner made of canned tomatoes, lean ground beef, and fresh produce.

The meal is kid-friendly and if you double the recipe, you can feed a crowd of 12. Find the recipe here.

inexpensive dinner ideas for a crowd

3. Red Beans and Rice

Treat your crowd to a Southern classic dinner that will tickle their taste buds.

The meal is made of red beans, bell peppers, smoked shanks, celery, onions, and a variety of spices and served over white rice.

Meat lovers will appreciate this dinner for its amazing flavor. Get the recipe here.

4. Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Cheese and Potato Topping

Feed a crowd of 10 with this comforting vegetarian-friendly staple. This Shepherd’s Pie is overloaded with vegetables, making it a highly nutritious meal that the whole family can enjoy.

It takes more than an hour to make it, but the time and effort are worth it. Find the recipe here.

5. Healthy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Since the majority of the ingredients are fresh and come from cans, this tortilla soup is super quick and easy to make.

It’s vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, delicious, and nutritious. The winning combo of black beans and sweet potatoes has been making lots of dinners tasty for decades. Find the recipe here.

inexpensive dinner ideas for a crowd

6. Easy, Hearty Rigatoni with Italian Sausage

Who doesn’t like pasta? Pasta is an absolutely great dinner idea for those insanely busy days, especially when a crowd shows up unexpectedly.

Easy, Hearty Rigatoni with Italian Sausage is a creative twist on the staple meat sauce and spaghetti, and it’s a little bit addictive, too. Get the recipe here.

7. Chicken Tikka Masala

Packed with nutrients, Chicken Tikka Masala makes a healthy dinner idea.

The recipe features 10 servings and takes 50 minutes to cook. If you’re concerned about the high-calorie count per serving, consider eliminating yogurt and/or cream from the ingredient list.

You can add nutritional yeast instead. The meal is freezer-friendly, so any leftovers can be eaten the next day. Get the recipe here.

8. Crockpot Brisket Tacos

When everyone asks for pizza and you can’t afford to feed a crowd, try making these Crockpot Brisket Tacos.

inexpensive dinner ideas for a crowd

Topped with raw cabbage, these mini taco pizzas are crunchy, healthy, and yummy. They’re great for a big family dinner or a party with friends.

Moreover, they don’t require any special cooking skills, making it a great choice for new cooks. You can find the recipe here.

9. Broccoli Cobbler

Broccoli Cobbler served with brown rice makes for a wonderful and cheap dinner idea.

The ingredient list might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but you can cut many ingredients out and still cook delicious Broccoli Cobbler.

Since it’s high in calories, consider serving a tiny portion for a warm and comforting side dish. You can find the recipe here.

10. A Vegetarian Lentil Patty

When you’re on an extremely tight budget but you need to feed a big family, these vegetarian patties will keep everyone full and happy after dinner.

All you need is cooked black lentils, eggs, bread crumbs, and onion. These lentil patties are also great for vegetarian burgers, making it another cheap dinner idea.

inexpensive dinner ideas for a crowd

We would also recommend adding a grated carrot for extra nutrients and taste or a bit of garlic for more flavor. Get the recipe here.

11.  Tuscan White Bean and Vegetable Soup

Whether you don’t eat meat or you do but can’t afford it, Tuscan White Bean and Vegetable Soup will provide your body with lots of protein and energy, thanks to its rich bean content.

The soup is quick to make and can feed at least 8 adults. Get the recipe here.

12. Linguine with Kale and Chickpeas

While this dinner idea might sound too plain and boring, it actually tastes amazing. The combination of pecorino Romano, red pepper flakes, and fresh garlic will turn any bland food into a luxury meal.

The linguine takes about 30 minutes to cook, which means you can feed a crowd in less than an hour. If you have any leftover veggies in the fridge, add them to the linguine for extra vitamins. Find the recipe here.

13. Baked Potato Bar

Hosting a dinner party for close friends shouldn’t empty your wallet and take all your time. With a Baked Potato Bar your guests won’t be hungry and you won’t feel guilty for saying no to them because you’re on a budget.

The secret of this dinner idea is a topping you’ll choose. It can be anything from chopped ham and shredded chicken to red onions and guacamole. Find your inspiration here.

dinner ideas

14. Easy Mexican Rice Casserole Recipe with Black Beans Sausage and Corn

This Mexican meal looks expensive, but in reality, it’s frugal.

You don’t need too many sausage links and you can skip them overall, if you want. Seasoning is what really matters in this rice casserole. 

Mix garlic powder, cilantro, onion powder, dried oregano, or adobo seasoning. With a few ingredient swaps, the casserole can be made vegetarian-friendly. Get the recipe here.

Wrapping Up

All these recipes are versatile so feel free to experiment with ingredient lists. You can come up with dozens of new dinner recipes daily based on these cheap and easy ideas.

We also recommend checking out our guide to the best cooking channels on YouTube for general cooking tips and pointers.

Cooking for a crowd doesn’t have to be expensive and effort-draining, after all.