You’ve got a crowd to feed and it’s cold outside? Check out these cheap + belly-warming best winter meals for a crowd.

The best winter meals for a crowd are:

group of people serving themselves yummy food, text overlay "17 best winter meals for a crowd - budget friendly"
  • filling
  • warm
  • easy to cook (heck, some you can do ahead of time!)
  • served in a way that doesn’t exhaust the host

And that’s not just a wish list – these types of meals for large crowds exist!

Trust me when I say that these fuss-free winter meals for a group – whether that group be your family, for your party, or whatever the occasion – will keep you on budget, too.

I mean, finding inexpensive ways to do things while still getting awesome results is kinda my thing.

Let’s dive in.

1. Build-Your-Own Baked Potato Bar

baked potato bar with cheese, scallions, sour cream and bacon as an easy winter meals for a crowd

With a large crowd, there are so many different tastes, dietary needs, food likes and food dislikes.

That’s why I just love bake potato bars. There is SO much variety being offered, that everyone can build their own version to make them satisfied.

Not only that, but people basically serve themselves, and the cost is very budget-friendly since the highlight of the meal is a cheap potato.

In fact, I made one for my husband’s college graduation party 4 years ago at party with about 18 people. Big hit!

I cooked the baked potatoes in my slow cookers – here’s instructions for how to do that.

Then, I came up with several themes for baked potatoes people could make. Like a broccoli-and-cheese baked potato, a “fajita” baked potato, chicken-bacon-broccoli potato, etc.

Here’s a list of ideas to get you started:

Depending on the themed baked potatoes you pick, you’ll pick out ingredients, fillings, and toppings to prep ahead of time.

Like…

  • Chopped chives/green onions, regular onions
  • Chopped bacon, chopped chicken, ground beef, chili
  • Shredded cheeses
  • Veggies like sautéed bell peppers, sautéed onions, and garlicky broccoli
  • Sauces, such as melted cheese, barbecue sauce, salsa, etc.
  • Butter pats and sour cream

These were arranged on a big table. You could also arrange them on a side table and serve this buffet-style.

Pro Tips: In our home, we use a wooden turntable (here’s a similar one to ours) in the middle of our dining room table. It’s really helped make dinner more accessible to everyone with build-your-own type meals, as well as more FUN. We also always have some of these metal tongs on hand, both for cooking, and for people to serve themselves.

2. Hot Casserole Slider Meals

ham and cheese sliders on slate serving platter, great winter meals for a group

The day I learned about hot casserole slider meals? Was a good one.

They’re so simple to make, so delicious and filling, and wayyyyy better than a “traditional” casserole dish.

Here are my favorite, crowd-pleasing ones:

3. Build Your Own Pasta Bar

pasta carbonara made from pasta bar, a great winter meal for a crowd

Pasta is not only super cheap to make for a crowd, but it’s filling and easy.

You can create an entire pasta bar of 3 sauces, giving people the chance to

  • a) serve themselves
  • b) satisfy their individual taste buds

Here’s a pasta bar idea with a free printable to dress up the guest-serving station. And here’s another idea for how to create your pasta bar.

4. Sheet Pan Meals for a Crowd

We just bought a set of these half-sheet pans, and I can't wait to take them for a spin with one of these crowd-pleasing meals below.

Bonus: Best Winter Desserts for a Crowd

Why not pair one of these winter meals for a crowd above with a winter dessert for a crowd below?

A few on my must-try list:

I hope I've shown you some of the best winter meals for a crowd out there. Not only for the taste, but also for the ease of cooking and serving. Your guests will be delighted, mostly because you won't be exhausted and grumpy from a day in the kitchen!

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 10 years, her money work helping people with how to save money and how to manage money has been featured in Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here.
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