Cooking for a large blended family

Cooking for a large blended family can be a daunting task. How do you remember which kids don’t like garlic and how do you double or triple that recipe?!

When my husband and I started dating, we introduced the kids on a camping trip. All weekend we cooked on an open grill at the park and slept in tents. The kids loved it! But we ran out of food! OOPS! Thank goodness the grocery store wasn’t too far and we took a little trip into town. 

Over the past few years I’ve learned how to buy for our large family and I’m learning to cook for just the 2 of us when we are alone on the rare weekend.

One tip that I have is to ask the kids their likes and dislikes. Sometimes you may forget and cook something that someone doesn’t eat. That doesn’t mean that we cook another meal here in our home, but we don’t make our kids eat something that they really dislike. They have the option of a sandwich or leftovers from another meal. That being said, if its something they have never eaten before, they are asked to try it before they are allowed to eat something that wasn’t on the menu.

Speaking of menus, have the kids help you with your menu. When everyone is eating in our home in one week, everyone gets to pick what we are having for our main meal one day. There are 7 of us and there’s a wide variety of taste buds, so the menu is fairly diverse. You can try this with your family also.

Something our family is working on now is a menu system where each person has a list of their top 10 meals. I then pull from each persons list to make my shopping list and menu for the week. It is so much easier when you have a plan in place and things written down!

Put your menu up where everyone can see! This eliminates everyone in the home asking “What’s for dinner?” And you may get some volunteers to help you cook each day.

Our large blended family has found that to stay within budget we need to make a lot of things at home that we wouldn’t have normally done. We also have found that buying in bulk is a must! We save a lot of money with a warehouse membership! Buying cases of chicken breast or 10 pounds of ground beef may seem like something that will cost a lot more than you have in your budget, but by gradually increasing our “meat budget” for buying in bulk has really saved us a lot over the course of the month.

Plant some tomatoes and easy to grow veggies to help supplement your budget. This is a great skill to learn yourself and teach your kids! Homegrown vegetables are so much more tasty than anything you can buy in a store. Want to buy organic produce, but can’t afford it for your large blended family? This is the way to save money and have amazing organic produce!

We rarely eat out in our home, especially when there’s 7 of us eating. It does a number on our budget, and I know it may yours also. If everyone in your home likes a certain restaurant entree go online and try to find a copy cat recipe and replicate it at home. We have done this with everything from pizza to chicken dishes.

Remember to involve the whole family when you are making your menu and cooking. Some of the best times in our home is when we are making homemade pizza and making silly shapes out of pizza dough. Family events don’t have to be expensive or on vacation somewhere, the most memorable things can be done right there in your home.


Christi Daugherty is a mom to 3 and step mom to 2 wonderful kids. She has had everything you can imagine thrown at her blended family and is here to pass along her tips on how to help keep your Christian blended family stress free.

  • Ree Rote

    Christi, I love that you don’t make your kids eat something they really don’t like. I did the same thing with mine when they were growing up. They had to taste it but they didn’t have to eat it if they really didn’t like it. As young adults I don’t think there are many things they don’t like. I, on the other hand was forced to eat whatever was on the table. To this day I cannot eat those things and I think it is more psychological than that I really don’t like them. I don’t think it is spoiling a child to do it our way. I think it is a respectful way to do it.

  • Stephanie Somers

    Food and family just go together! I love how you’ve committed to making your blended family meal times a win-win situation instead of a warzone. In our house we call ahead toward the end of visitation and ask what meal the kids would really love to sink their teeth into upon arriving home. There’s nothing like returning home to the aroma of your favorite home-cooked meal. Great post!