barbIf you’re reading this post its because you have the desire to check out budget-conscious meal ideas – welcome! I love finding recipes that are family-friendly, kid-tested and healthy for the whole family. Check out these tummy-filling meals that will leave everyone satisfied and your bank account intact!

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
A box of whole grain spaghetti and a jar of tomato sauce are go-to favorites for a cheap and easy meal. You can snazz up your sauce by adding in some browned ground beef or turkey and a diced onion (or any other vegetables that you have in your fridge). For something a little different, try a spaghetti bake – combine your cooked spaghetti and sauce in an oven proof dish, top it with a bit of shredded cheese, and bake it at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Homemade Pizza
A homemade pizza can be a simple meal for the entire family. I typically start with some store-bought whole-wheat pizza dough, some tomato sauce, and some shredded cheese. Then I pick up whatever vegetables are on sale at my local grocery store to use as toppings, or chop what I have in my fridge. In my experience, kids also love helping to make pizza, so get them involved!

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
Roasting a whole chicken instead of chicken legs or breasts provides a lot of bang for your buck, and will easily feed your entire family. Add some roasted potatoes and a side of fresh or frozen vegetables will give you a relatively cheap and complete meal for your hungry crowd! Plus, you can use the leftovers in other delicious dinners.

Tuna Noodle Casserole
What budget meal repertoire would be complete without Tuna Noodle Casserole? When combined, whole grain pasta, canned tuna, and cheese make a delicious meal your kids will love. Throw in some peas or steamed broccoli for a healthy serving of vegetables!

Veggie Chili
One of my absolute favourite budget-friendly meals is chili – and this one is sure to win you over. It’s packed with beans, bell peppers, and other vegetables, and you can add as much or as little spice as you like. My daughter Lily is 4, and she always climbs on the counter to help me make it. If fact, she has dubbed it “Lily’s Chili”!

Lily’s (Veggie) Chili
Serves 4 to 6


• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 red bell peppers, diced
• 4 cloves garlic
• 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 (heaping) tablespoon chili powder
• 1 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
• 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained & rinsed
• 2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes (you can drain them if you prefer a thicker chili)
• 1 cup frozen corn (canned is fine too!)
• salt and pepper to taste

Optional Garnishes: Low-fat sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, avocado/guacamole, fresh cilantro…whatever you have or like!

• In a Dutch oven or large stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, peppers, garlic, cumin, cayenne, and chili powder, and season with salt and pepper. Stir together and cook until soft, 3-4 minutes. Mix in beans, diced tomatoes, and corn.
• Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
• Top with your favorite garnishes and serve immediately.

• If you don’t have the cayenne, chili powder, and cumin, you can get a taco or chili seasoning packet instead – I won’t tell 
• You can easily make this dinner in a slow cooker. Set everything up in the morning before work, turn your cooker on low, and you’ll have a hot meal ready for you when you come home!
• You can “bulk up” your chili with some cooked quinoa or brown rice.
• If not eaten immediately, the chili will keep for about a week in a covered container in the refrigerator, or a couple months in the freezer.

Barb is a passionate certified holistic health coach and founder of Healthy Peas, Happy Pod. She is dedicated to helping her followers and clients – mostly young, busy moms – create happy, healthy lives in a way that is flexible, fun and free of denial! Barb holds a Bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences from Queen’s University and a Certificate as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  She lives in Newmarket, Ontario with her husband and 4-year-old twins.


Barb practices a holistic approach to health and wellness, which means that she looks at how all of the areas of her client’s lives – activity level, eating habits, stress, relationships, and work – are interconnected. She then helps them work towards the results they desire, such as such as achieving an optimal weight, reducing cravings, incorporating more healthy foods into family meals, and minimizing fatigue, in realistic and enjoyable steps! Barb doesn’t believe in magic pills or fad diets, and has seen firsthand how dramatic results can be achieved through simple nutritional and lifestyle improvements!


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