If you've been reading this blog, you know that my son likes to have his friends over - a lot. Sometimes it's one or two boys who will eat whatever we're eating for dinner, but often it's up to 11 kids! Try as I might, I cannnot stretch a meal for 4 to encompass 15.
So how do you feed an army of ravenous teenage boys on a budget?
The obvious answer would be to order pizza, but that gets pricey FAST. To mitigate the cost, I buy either cooked pizza from our local grocery store or an uncooked one from that same store or Costco. Even the cooked pizza is cheaper than Dominos or our local pizzeria. And I never have it delivered! Better the tip remain in my purse than grace even the nicest delivery person's pocket.
Often, I cook, nothing special since I'm not the best cook, but doing so saves a lot of money. My favorites, in no particular order, are:
- Mac and Cheese – These kids, fortunately, are not picky about the quality of the food offered. Generic macaroni and cheese can be made in bulk, is comfort food, and is a favorite among all. Wanna get a little fancy? Top with generic shredded cheese.
- Turkey Chili in the crockpot – I just made this last night for a mass of teens and it went over famously! Beans, rice, and corn can be added to make this extra filling. Find my recipe (along with other crockpot recipes here.
- Fish Tacos – With generic fish sticks as the basis for these, kids find them exotic. Find the recipe here.
The mothers of my son's friends are grateful that we have their teenagers over, since they know their boys are safe and out of trouble. My son is delighted that even though we don't have a large house, his friends feel comfortable here. They're over so often, in fact, that they know where the paper plates, cups, and filtered water are – I tell them to help themselves and they do.
The dishes above make me happy that the kids eat hearty and are a part of our lives. And I love how my son thanks me, after every gathering, for allowing his friends to hang here. Sometime soon they'll all be off to college. I think I'll treasure them now.