Cooking for a large family is one task which appears daunting on the surface. However, careful planning would do the trick. Many parents, especially mothers, relish the responsibility of cooking for the home, but when the family is relatively large, some basic points need to be observed in order to make this great responsibility a pleasurable one.

Vida Adams, a middle-aged woman who sells drinks and biscuits in my university in Accra, tells me how times have become so difficult that for her, following a well-planned budget is not an option but a must. "I would not be able to support my family financially if I did not cook on a well-planned budget'', she says.

Here are two reliable methods that may help:

Plan ahead

The most important thing to do when cooking for a large family on a budget is to plan ahead. Prepare a menu list to guide you on what to cook every week. Going to the grocery store without a list of items can throw your budget out of gear. You are likely to buy certain items which your family may not need sometimes because you find the prices of these items charmingly cheap. I recall, with fond memories, the first time I had to shop for the family; I went to the supermarket without a shopping list, and I remember spending my first ten minutes or more checking the prices of items such as biscuits, chocolates, and drinks, which the family did not need; I was simply enamored by some of the prices of these items so, eventually, I ended up buying a couple of them. The direct effect of this ill-advised action of mine was that my money was not enough to buy all the essential items plus these non-essentials. So I had to spend more time to make sure I get rid of some very unnecessary ones in order to get more of the things I needed. Having a shopping list does not only help you to get all the items you would need or help you to have control over your budget, but it also helps you to save time when shopping - you know what you want, and you go for it.

Buy foodstuffs in bulk

Another helpful thing to do is to buy food items you regularly use in bulk. Items such as tomatoes and onions and some other vegetables which you would need on almost daily basis are far cheaper when bought in bulk. I had an opportunity to do an exchange program in Finland, and I always ensured that I bought my potatoes, which was the food I completely lived on, in bulk. That proved to be such a great relief to my pocket. Vida Adams explains, ''I buy my foodstuff in bulk so that days that I do not have any money to give to my children, I can still cook a good meal for them.''

The main consideration in drawing a budget is how to get the best for your family without having to spend any money that is not worth it; it is not how to get cheap things since cheap stuff may not necessarily be wholesome. Without any doubt, two great ways for cooking for a large family on a budget are to plan ahead and to buy your regular purchases in bulk.

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