I love getting meal inspiration from other families just like ours, so thought I’d write down all of our simple and cost effective family meals here for you. Hopefully you find something new to try. Tag me on instagram @simplehomemom if you do! Today on the blog, I bring you: 10 simple and cost effetive family meals.

Why simple and cost effective family meals?

Simple and cost effective family meals are a must these days because life is busy and most of the time kids do better with simple rather than elaborate meals..and plus it means less prep time for us. The other benefit is the obvious - saving money, which is what most of strive to do. It’s the ideal situation, right? I’m a fan of quick, simple, healthy meals that get repeated often. I’ll be sharing our most popular meals in my blog for you today. They are in no particular order. I’d also love to hear what your favourites are; feel free to leave a comment!


A plate of nachos.

This is one of our “fun” meals that we have periodically, but it’s always a hit and can have so many variations to it.


  • Nachos
  • Shredded cheese
  • Any variation of meat such as: ham bits, bacon, chicken, hamburger
  • Any variation of veggies such as: peppers, onions, hot peppers, green onions, tomato

Serve the nachos on their own after broiling in the oven or with sour cream and/or salsa. If we’re feeling like splurging a little, we buy Doritos and use those for the nachos. It’s sooooo tasty!

And because I love DIY: DIY Nacho spice; Easy Homemade Baked Pita Chips; Taco meat recipe


Picky plates or finger foods are what we do for most of our lunches. I put them in a round container with separated sections. I use my picky plate planner page from my Simple Meal Planning Guide to plan it out. I make sure to have a variety of foods from different food groups such as:

  • nuts
  • dairy
  • protein
  • fruits and vegetables

You can find out more about picky plates in my Meal Planning Guide that includes printables and steps to make your own picky plates as well as on this blog here about picky plates.

Finger food ideas: 20 Best Finger Food Ideas to Feed a Crowd; 19 Healthy and Easy Finger Foods For Kids; Masterlist of Finger Foods for Toddlers, Babies, and Big Kids


I do variations of these often, so will share the most current version I’ve been making.


  • Whole wheat wrap - sub for lettuce for a gluten free option.
  • Canned tuna
  • Touch of greek yogurt (or if you’re into mayo, do that)
  • Spices: garlic, oregano, pepper..whatever strikes your fancy
  • Shredded cheese
  • Onion
  • Lentils. I cook in the insant pot and mix with the tuna sometimes.
  • Chopped spinach
  • I’ll sometimes serve with a side of mixed veggies too.

4. TACO BOWLS (lentil with meat)

This one is always popular in our home. I keep a running list of ingredients of it on my phone for quick recall; low brain power usage needed. ha!


  • 1/2 Hamburger or ground turkey and 1/2 lentils with chopped nion and sometimes shredded carrot and/or cabbage
  • Refried beans or plain beans
  • Olives
  • Lettuce/spinach
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado
  • Carrot
  • Cucumber
  • Any other veggies we have on hand that work!

A picture of prepped food ready for taco bowl night.


This is a favourite in our home!


  • Chicken
  • Onions
  • Tomato
  • Pickled turnip
  • Pickles
  • Lettuce/spinach
  • Herbs
  • Cucumber
  • Olives
  • Garlic sauce
  • Hummus
  • Wraps

We use this recipe to make our chicken. We batch enough for four shawarma nights at once. For our garlic sauce, we use plain yogurt, olive oil, and blended fresh garlic.


If you’re stumped with meal planning and grocery planning, you may enjoy the method I use for our monthly grocery planning. Since I started applying this method, I started saving our family $200-$300/month consistently. It’s also helped our meal planning situation as well. You can snatch that freebie HERE. I also read a fantastic book with all of the tips and tricks you can imagine called Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half. You can find that book in my Amazon shops: US shop and Canadian shop.


This one is SO tasty and is usually a hit with our crew. We try to have at least one meatless supper a week, usually on Monday for a meatless Monday theme. Meal planning with theme nights is a hit here! It simplifies meal planning so much for us.


  • Broth. We make our own broth whenever we cook a chicken or turkey or use some store bought broth.
  • Rice, quinoa or rice noodles
  • Frozen mixed vegetables
  • Red lentils (they cook up so softly and you don’t even notice them much in the soup)
  • Add chicken or turkey for a non vegetarian option
  • Serve with biscuits!



These are always a hit here and so simple to put together.


  • Scrambled eggs
  • Spinach
  • Tomato
  • Cheese
  • Sauce
  • Whole wheat wraps
  • Veggies on the side (fresh or steamed)


Our favorite simplest recipe is taking salmon or haddock with olive oil, salt, and pepper and frying it on our griddle.

I make instant pot quinoa/rice. Find a good recipe here. I add spices like cumin and oregano. I’ll use broth instead of water if I have some too.

Veggies is usually roast veggies or steamed veggies. Whatever we feel like or have to use up. Olive oil, salt, and pepper is our go to mix.


We use breakfast bars most days for breakfast. It consists of dry oatmeal with added milk or pot oatmeal. The kids choose their own combinations from the ingredients below:

  • Oatmeal
  • Milk
  • Dried or fresh fruit
  • Chia and flaxseed
  • Frozen berries
  • Yogurt
  • Peanut butter


This is a very recent addition, but it’s a hit! And so affordable and quick, to boot.


  • Milk
  • If available, bone broth
  • Canned corn
  • Steamed and diced potatoes
  • Any other small chopped veggies you’d like to add
  • Cut up ham
  • Spices to taste

Serve with biscuits if you’d like!


Helpful meal planning blogs of mine you may enjoy:

Other help blogs I found with simple and cost effective family meals:


And if you’re constantly finding meal planning a challenge, you may also love my Simple Meal Planning Guide!

The Simple Meal planning Guide is for you if…

  • you often feel stumped and uninspired with meal planning
  • you often dread meal times
  • you often feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start with meal planning
  • you’d like a simple, streamlined process to meal plan that works for you in every season of life
  • you often are googling meal planning type ideas
  • you can’t seem to find a system for meal planning that sticks

You can find more about it here.

“If you struggle with meal planning at all (or just need fresh ideas and inspiration), you would love this simple, thorough, accessible resource.” - Crystin from @delightfullyfeasting

Hi, I’m Kelly! I’m a mother of four children - three boys, one toddler girl - and our family lives on the beautiful east coast of Canada. I’m a past elementary teacher, turned stay at home, work at home mom eight years ago after I had my second child. I’ve found that the busier I’ve become and as my children age, that it’s become even more important to figure out what is most important to me and us as a family. Living a simpler lifestyle has helped us in so many ways in our home life - from better routines to faster tidying up times. It has been through my children that I have been inspired to learn how to effectively manage my time and to simplify in all areas of my home and life. I enjoy helping busy moms simplify home life by teaching flexible planning methods and skills. Enjoyed this blog and think it would be helpful to others? I'd love if you shared it. Thank you!