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5 Simple and Frugal Family Meals

Mom, what’s for Dinner?

The dreaded question, that seems to come up EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. “Mom, what’s for dinner?” Wait, what? Didn’t I just feed you?

I do not like to cook. I love gourmet meals as long as someone else is cooking them. I guess I don’t like the fuss of doing it fancy myself. I’m more of a get-it-done type. So anything I cook has to be simple. Over the years I’ve found my go-to meals that don’t need a lot of thought or prep. And that the family will all eat (except the mini pizzas for my Gluten Free 19 year old). These all happen on a regular basis around here. These are barely even recipes; they are so simple, but if you need a new simple meal check these out.

Dinner doesn’t have to be fancy

Just because it is simple doesn’t mean it isn’t hearty. Quick and easy doesn’t mean it isn’t made with love. These 5 Meals will be sure fire winners, and bring the family together for a great meal.

Big bang for your buck meals

  1. Soft Tacos
  2. Potatoes and Chili
  3. Mini Pizzas
  4. Gluten Free Chicken Soup
  5. Pasta with Marinara Sauce

1. Soft Tacos

Taco Tuesday exists for a reason, people LOVE tacos. All you need is one pound of ground beef for about every 4 people in your house. Brown it with chili powder, ketchup and our favorite: La Victoria Green Taco Sauce. Warm corn tortillas in a single layer on a non-stick skillet (or they’ll fall apart!) or use flour tortillas.  Spoon in the meat and your choice of toppings: avocados, tomatoes, cheese, etc. Boost the flavor with some refried beans! Enjoy with salsa or Pico de Gallo.

A variation is the Hot Cha Cha (a name from my childhood). Same as the tacos, but instead of tortillas you pile the meat, beans and topping in a bowl and use tortilla chips to scoop and enjoy!


2. Potatoes and Chili

Fluffy baked potatoes with Chili is like comfort food. It’s so filling that even my 15 year old son is satisfied! We like Dennison’s original chili straight out of the can (not everything has to be homemade). Stretch it by adding leftover taco meat and an extra can of “chili beans”. Top with shredded cheese. Variation: instead of potatoes, serve chili over rice. 

3. Mini Pizzas

Mini pizzas - this is often lunch. A fun way to eat and be creative! Use Naan flatbread (could also use English muffins, French bread, or even pita bread). Grab your favorite jarred marinara, shredded cheese, toppings. Are top picks are pepperoni, olives, and marinated artichoke hearts. Assemble pizzas and place directly on the rack in the toaster oven (line floor with foil to catch drips). Toast on med-high for 5 minutes or until tops are just beginning to brown. Can be done in a big oven as well, but trickier to maneuver.

4. Gluten-Free Chicken Soup

Soup is such a comfort food! Let it simmer and it fills the house with such a great smell, better than an air freshener! 

Saute onions and celery until translucent, add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add in carrots and potatoes, simmer until tender. Add in chicken, broccoli, and Italian seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste. Once broccoli is tender, turn off the heat and serve. Maybe have some biscuits or cornbread to go with it! YUM! Did I mention this is also gluten-free?!

5. Pasta with Meat Sauce

This is a classic easy meal that just about everyone has in their easy meals inventory. So you might find it odd to include, I mean, duh, right? But I learned a little trick from my MIL to give more depth of flavor to jarred marinara sauce. Ready for it? Add in some chili powder! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Prepare pasta noodles according to package directions. We use Barilla Gluten Free Spaghetti noodles. For the sauce: brown one pound of ground beef, add one 24oz jar of marinara, add one teaspoon to one tablespoon chili powder. Start with one teaspoon, add more to taste and remember, the heat will kick in the longer it cooks! Add one tablespoon Italian seasoning, simmer on low until pasta is cooked and drained. Serve over cooked pasta noodles.

Dinner’s Served!

So as you can see, I don’t cook ‘fancy’, but having these simple meals in my go-to list makes time in the kitchen easier. Dinner doesn’t always have to be a four-course meal to be delicious. When dinner is quick and easy the whole night seems to go smoother!


I’d love to hear what your go-to meals are, especially if they are simple! You never can have too many weapons in your arsenal!


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