Inexpensive Meal Ideas for a Homeless Mission?

My church feeds a homeless mission in our area. We are small and money is tight. I need some ideas on how we can feed between 50-60 men once a month.


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Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,298 Posts
April 1, 20172 found this helpful

Looks like Thrifty Fun has a thread for Recipes for Homeless!

- Tuna sandwiches
- Beans
- Potato Salad
- Sloppy Joes
- And so forth.


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November 6, 20170 found this helpful

Have Cooked for the homeless for a year now, Cook Breakfast Casserole several times, Cook meats ( ham and bacon, or beef) Layer shredded potatoes and meat and cheese. top with Eggs milk and seasoning cover and bake 350 for 1 hour depending on pan size.


Step 1
Cook meats ( bacon, ham, sausage or ground beef)And drain.

Step 2
Layer frozen shredded potatoes , meal and cheddar cheese. Mix milk eggs and seasoning and pour over.

Step 3
Bake 350, for one hour or until done

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November 10, 20180 found this helpful

We are a mid sized Church north of Pensacola Fl. Once a week we feed 150-200 people. As colder weather approaches, we use this old standard. Fifteen dozen eggs, 8 pounds bulk sasuage 5 pounds shreded cheese, four cans fifteen oz rotel tomatoes and 15 gritpounds grits. Brown sausage, crack eggs and prepare to scramble, cook grits according to instructions, scranble eggs, stir in eggs, sausage, rotel tomatoes, cheese.


Turn off heat to grits before adding eggs,ect. I know not all people like grits, at least until they try this on a cold day. We serve with a biscuit and jelly. You might want to start with smaller batches---- 1/4 of each. A 10 ounce cup is plenty. Please get in touch with any questions. Thank you and God bless.

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
April 1, 20171 found this helpful

Rice and beans is a cheap, complete meal. You want to stay away from expensive cuts of meat, chicken tenders, and fish fillets. Canned salmon is also a good choice. What about spaghetti and meat sauce?

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June 24, 20210 found this helpful

We feed 40 - 60 on the street every sat. We make bbq [10-15 lbs ck]ck sandwhiches , pulled pork( 2 7-8lb butts) sandwhich, red beans and rice, links on a bun, chili dogs, hamburgers, potatoe soup, and burritos. We have 4 ppl in our team and it's usu about 20-25 $ a pc for these meals. We make up the meal and but n bwn bags w a chip, a snack and a water.

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
April 2, 20172 found this helpful

Since you will be doing this on an on-going basis I have offered several suggestions (most all suggestions have been used by my group at one time or other).


We usually try to go with cheap but easy dinners so many times that means HoBo dinners. These are so easy and you can add almost any vegetable available and you can also add variety by using different ingredients. Just use a black marker and note one or more different ingredient on the outside of packet.
Here are a couple of links just in case you are not familiar with making hobo dinners (you may have to expand on ingredients to the number you need):

Here is a site that we use a lot for getting ideas for large groups:

Here are some ideas (actual costs may not be correct) but some ideas we use:

Here is a great recipe for something a little different:


2 1/2 gallons water
8 oz. chicken base
4 oz. butter
3 lb. chicken
2 lb. medium noodles
2 tsp. parsley flakes
4 oz. chopped pimento
1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. salt and pepper mix

Bring water to boil. Add chicken base, butter, and cut-up chicken to water. Cook approximately 35 minutes. Add noodles, parsley flakes, pimento, celery salt and salt and pepper mix and cook approximately 30 minutes (until noodles are tender).
Serves 32 9-ounce portions.

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Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,246 Posts
April 3, 20170 found this helpful

Soups, stews, chicken dumpling soup :) If you want to get fancy, you can make large amounts of curry and rice for very little money:



2 cups uncooked instant white rice
3 3/4 cups water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 small onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
6 small red potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (2 cups)
2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces (3/4 cup)
1 extra-large vegetarian vegetable bouillon cube
1/2 medium red bell pepper, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cook rice in 2 cups of the water as directed on package.

In 3-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add curry powder, salt, cumin and ground red pepper; cook and stir 1 minute. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir 1 minute longer.

Add potatoes, carrots, bouillon cube and 1 1/2 cups of the remaining water. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium; cover and simmer 10 minutes.

Add bell pepper; cover and simmer 4 to 6 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.

In small bowl, mix remaining 1/4 cup water and the flour until smooth. Add to saucepan; cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens. Boil and stir 1 minute. Serve over rice.

(Above is a recipe for 4)

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April 5, 20170 found this helpful

Spaghetti with meat sauce is cheap, accompanied with garlic bread made from regular loaf bread. Find each on sale and use coupons along with sale price.

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 255 Posts
April 7, 20170 found this helpful

Chili, speghetti, chicken and rice soup, baked potato bar, potato soup, mac and cheese, mac and tuna casserole.

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June 15, 20171 found this helpful

My ministry,, offers two meal shares weekly in our community, each serving 40-60 guests. The Wednesday meal is planned by me and usually consists of richly flavored ethnic foods with an emphasis on good protein and vegetables. The meals I offer usually cost about 60 cents a person, which I think is an excellent price. Money for the meals comes from my church and members of the community. Local school gardens supply us with fresh greens for weekly salads, as well as fresh herbs and other garden gifts. We also receive other donations of meat, canned tomatoes and olive oil which we use frequently.

I have learned from working closely with our friends who are homeless that many are in poor health, suffering from conditions like diabetes. They are made even more ill by the cheap, starch heavy foods they are often served. Foods full of starch and sugar raise blood sugars incredibly high. Diabetics who don't have access to necessities for good foot care are put at even greater risk by being fed with these unhealthy foods. It is important to avoid cheap starch and to focus on nutrient dense foods that genuinely support health.

There may be a temptation to add water to soups to make them go farther. Remember, however, that it does little good to send people away with bellies full of water. that water will soon be gone and they will be hungry, again.

Today, someone actually suggested to me that I serve my guests baby food and send them away with bags of cooked rice. He said it was "better than nothing". I think we can do better than better than nothing. We can feed people with love, dignity and respect. We can feed them with foods that taste like they were made with love by a friend for a friend. That is what Radical Love strives to do.

If you would like me to share some of my recipes I would be glad to do so. You can reach me though

Peace, erika

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August 30, 20171 found this helpful

Erika, I loved your post, everything made with that special ingredient- lurve! I feed up to 50 mixed nationalities in southern Spain,choosing recipes are sometimes difficult because of this mix.
Sometimes I receive gifts of food, amazing fresh vegetables and chicken breast etc., other times I can get handed a box of out of date dry goods-because that is what they think our friends are worth and they cannot bring themselves to admit they buy too much- salves a conscience! However, nothing is wasted- chickens dont mind out of date grains and they give lovely eggs to make bread pudding with.. hahaha. xx

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December 28, 20170 found this helpful

Im the ED here at Love Wins Community Engagement Center (formerly Love Wins Ministries), and yes, I feel all of this. We serve breakfast and lunch daily for 50-80 people. We play a lot of iron chef with donated ingredients and really try to give our folks the best that we can. Some days are simply tuna with crackers, macaroni and cheese, lima beans with corn (a favorite here), and fresh mixed green salad. Other days we have totally different things, but every day we think what are we making for diabetics, our vegetarians, our non-pork eating friends, our friends without teeth, then we also think about who is there with certain allergies. We create food with this in mind. Its an amazing balance, but Im so proud that we can do it.

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December 28, 20170 found this helpful

P.s. root vegetable stew is a life saver around here, and a great way to use the dehydrated mashed potatoes that people donate as a thickener. Potatoes, onions, carrots, sautee the onions, add broth (we keep veggie scraps in the freezer to make broth), add root veggies (turnips and parsnips work well too), add whatever seasoning you have that makes food taste good. Add meat if you have some (here a small amount can go a long way). When veggies are ready, thicken with the dehydrated potato flakes. Taste and season to style desired. This is the base recipe, add whatever you have to flavor it your way and utilize fresh vegetables. :)

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June 3, 20180 found this helpful

Erica thank you. We feed 70 to 100 people every Sunday in a park. I am responsible or at least 2 hot meals per month. I try to find good food I would feed my family ( these people are). I am always looking for good culturally appropriate food last month I did picadillo which was inexpensive and so good any ideas are so appreciated tired of sloppy Joes and pasta salad

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September 8, 20180 found this helpful

Thank you so much for your comment, "We can do better than 'better than nothing'". ABSOLUTELY!!!! God bless, and keep up the great work!

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November 13, 20180 found this helpful

I'm a head cook at a homeless shelter in Flordia I searve Abt 150 three day weekend. I'm haveing problem s coming up with side . We have meat but hardly nothing to go with. I've been buying stuff but I can no longer afford to do that. Any suggestions? Also I've only been doing this for Abt one month as are last head cook can no longer help so basically I was thrown in bc I was helping him. I love doing this. I love that o can help people and give them them a good hot meal. Any help would be great. Thanks

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April 20, 20190 found this helpful

Yes, please share some of your recipees with me. Our population also has some health problems and we set up quickly on a street, The leader for my day likes crock pot meals. I know some do not like pork. What do you suggest. We do have some with diabettes. I am a single mom but I love doing this and the people who come in the rain (when it is raining and cold) actually live on the street. So yes. Love your attitude. We call it our FIT Faitn in action extended outreach because people should not be referred to as homeless anymore than we should be homed or apartmented.

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August 17, 20190 found this helpful

would love any recipes that are plant based. Feeding about 100 guests.

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September 17, 20190 found this helpful

Thank you for your kindness to our homeless friends.

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Silver Answer Medal for All Time! 409 Answers
July 16, 20170 found this helpful

The inexpensive brands of canned salmon are very nutritious and one can will feed several people when mixed with crackers, milk and egg, then fried as cakes. Also, spaghetti noodles can be stretched with less pasta sauce and mixed.

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