How To Feed 8 People With $30: 12 Dinner Ideas on a Budget

Happy Family Celebrating Thanksgiving Day Home. Dinner.

Welcome to the ultimate culinary challenge: you’ve got $30, and you need to satisfy the appetites of eight hungry mouths. What’s on the menu?

Many users on social media shared their budget-friendly and creative solutions for feeding a crowd on a tight budget. Let’s explore these wallet-friendly meal ideas that prove you can whip up a delicious dinner without breaking the bank.

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#1. “Spaghetti Night”

Spaghetti pasta with tomato sauce, parmesan and basil on a white plate. The classic tomato spaghetti: vegetarian tomato basil pasta. Old wooden background
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“Not the most healthy diet, but I ate spaghetti for about 70% of my meals when I was in grad school. I had a $1500/month stipend and didn’t have much budget for food after paying rent, bills, gas, car note, etc.”

Spaghetti is the hero of affordable dining. Many users pointed out that it’s a classic and cost-effective choice. You can serve up this beloved dish to a substantial group without straining your budget. Some users even mentioned adding garlic bread and dessert brownies to make the meal even more appealing without hurting your wallet.

#2. “Pasta on a Budget”

A variety of pasta on a cutting board. Food.
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During grad school, managing finances can be a challenge. However, there’s good news for pasta lovers. Many users who’ve navigated these financial waters know that you can stretch your $30 budget for an entire week with some clever pasta shopping. $1.50 boxes of pasta and $1 cans of pasta sauce, often found at Walmart, become your trusty companions. While this may not be the healthiest option out there, it’s undeniably filling and budget-friendly.

#3. “DIY Pasta Sauce and Fresh Vegetables”

Hummus with fresh vegetables, healthy vegetarian food concept, top view
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“Cut the cost of sauce in half. Buy canned tomatoes and make your own. Cut the bread, that’s a double carb, add a fresh vegetable instead for the filling fiber and nutrients.”

To save even more on your pasta dinner, consider making your pasta sauce from canned tomatoes. It’s a budget-savvy alternative to store-bought sauce. And instead of serving garlic bread, you can enhance the meal’s nutritional value by adding fresh vegetables. This switch opens up endless possibilities for customizing your pasta dinner, ensuring it’s not only easy on your wallet but also nutritious.

#4. “Red Beans and Rice”

Black beans and kidney beans on top of rice on a plate. Food.
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If you’re searching for a cost-effective yet nutritious meal to serve a crowd, look no further than “Red Beans and Rice.” It’s a beloved Southern dish that delivers both flavor and sustenance. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also a source of complete protein, making it a filling choice for a larger group. Moreover, you can spice it up and create a flavorful meal even without adding meat.

#5. “Corned Beef and Cabbage”

Chinese cabbage. Kimchi cabbage. Korean traditional food. Top view. Flat lay
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When corned beef goes on special, it’s your opportunity to prepare a hearty meal of corned beef and cabbage, accompanied by freshly baked bread. This delightful combination can be achieved without exceeding your $30 budget.

#6. “Gnocchi Extravaganza”

Cropped shot of woman cooking pasta
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“Homemade gnocchi with store bought sauce feels like a wild combo to me, unless gnocchi is way easier to make than I realize?”

Creating your own gnocchi is a fantastic way to impress a crowd while staying within your budget. With just two jars of spaghetti sauce, 10 pounds of potatoes, 2 eggs, and some flour, you can produce a generous serving of delicious gnocchi. It’s a cost-effective choice that’s sure to please your diners.

#7. “Egg Fried Rice for the Win”

Plate of Rice
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“Yep, got brown rice from another meal leftover for this! Season oil with a bit of garlic in the pan, toss in rice, scramble some egg and mix that in along with some chopped green onion, even some frozen peas. I drizzle some soy sauce in, and top my bowl with toasted sesame seeds I keep in the fridge plus a drizzle of sweet chili sauce.”

Egg fried rice is not only budget-friendly but also a tasty option. With your $30 budget, you could provide two dozen guests with a satisfying serving of egg fried rice. To enhance the flavor, consider using refrigerated rice, as it’s known for creating the ideal texture for fried rice.

#8. “Slow-Cooked Pork Tacos”

Mexican food - delicious tacos with ground beef
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“And if you get a giant one, you can make several meals from it. I have an almost 9 pound pork in the crock pot right now and it’ll probably make crispy pork tacos, scrambled eggs, pasta with creamy poblano sauce, and maybe some pulled pork sammiches for me and two roommates.”

Pork is famous for its affordability. With some creativity and seasoning, you can slow-cook it to perfection and serve up some mouthwatering pork tacos. It’s an economical choice that allows you to make a flavorful meal for your group.

#9. “Freezer-Friendly Stews”

Meat stew in a bowl
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“There’s a reason stews and soups were so popular for the peasant folk. They’re stupidly easy to make and you can make a lot of it for cheap. Just boil some water in a pot and throw whatever you have in with some spices. Plus you can use the broth for flavoring to dip bread in or glaze over other cheap foods you can buy in bulk like potatoes, onions, carrots, bread and others. Reject modernity, embrace stew.”

Preparing large batches of stew during the winter can be a practical way to ensure your family is well-fed. Users have shared their techniques for making hearty stews with ingredients like beef, potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips, and swede. This one-pot wonder provides multiple meals for your household.

#10. “Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup”

Homemade Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup for Lunch
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“Or sliced ham for grilled ham and cheese!”

A classic and budget-friendly combo, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup are beloved comfort foods. With a bit of creativity and presentation, you can make an appealing meal that your family will enjoy without breaking the bank.

#11. “Hamburgers on a Budget”

Homemade Cheeseburger Sliders with Lettuce Tomato and Cheese
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Hamburgers are known for being budget-friendly and versatile. Some users have suggested creating flavorful hamburgers with lettuce, onion, tomato slices, and dressing, using soft taco tortillas instead of traditional buns. It’s a smart way to make an affordable meal more exciting.

#12. “Goulash for a Crowd”

raditional goulash in crock on white wood table. Rustic vintage style traditional dinner.
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“Goulash was the staple towards the end of the week/month growing up.”

Goulash is a tasty and filling choice for feeding a crowd without exceeding your budget. This dish typically includes noodles, stewed tomatoes, and ground beef, creating a delightful flavor profile that many enjoy. With some clever cooking, you can serve up enough goulash to satisfy a whole village.

Source: Reddit.

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Radha Perera

Radha, a content writer with over 5 years of experience, excels in delivering both creative and technical content. With a versatile skill set, she adeptly tailors writing styles to cater to diverse target audiences, ensuring impactful communication across all platforms.