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Feed Your Family Fast for Less!

Updated on May 7, 2015

Easy, Economical, Kid-friendly Meals in Minutes

What's for dinner? As a busy mom of seven, I needed to come up with some easy dinner recipes that could be prepared quickly and economically. I will share some of my recipes for my kid-friendly, cheap, easy meals. Many of these can even be prepared ahead of time and thrown into the freezer for future use. Most have just a few ingredients and can be prepared with staples from your pantry. I hope you're hungry!

Thanks to doortoriver for the photo!

Easy Baked Ziti

Everybody loves Ziti (even the baby!)

16 oz box ziti or penne pasta (I use whole wheat)

1 jar spaghetti sauce

1 8 oz. package of shredded cheese (I use Mozarella or Italian Blend)

1 lb. ground beef

1 small onion (optional)

1-2 cloves fresh garlic (optional)

Brown the ground beef and drain off any fat. If using onions and/or garlic, chop onions and press garlic and add to beef as it is cooking. Add sauce to the ground beef. Cook noodles according to package directions. Stir noodles, ground beef and sauce mixture and the cheese together and dump into a 9x13 baker. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. This freezes very nicely for future use!

Quick Shepherd's Pie

1 lb ground beef (can cook w/ chopped onions if you want to add flavor)

1 clove garlic

1 lb frozen mixed veggies

Instant Mashed potatoes--I make 10-12 servings according to package box

(milk and butter to make mashed potatoes)

salt and pepper to taste

optional: 1 can chopped tomatoes (I use seasoned ones)

Brown the ground beef and press the garlic clove into the meat as it is browning. I use my garlic press a lot to add flavor to any and every dish! While meat is browning, make mashed potatoes according to directions on box. When meat is done, pour in the bag of frozen veggies and mix together. Add salt and pepper as desired. Dump all of this into a 9x13 baking pan. Scoop mashed potatoes on top of mixture and spread evenly to cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. It's a 1 dish meal! You can add other seasoning as desired to the meat & veggie mixture such as oregano, fried onion, Italian Seasonings, etc. My kids like it plain so I don't add a lot of extras.

Quick and Easy Chicken and Stuffing

l to l 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 box stovetop stuffing

1 can cream of mushroom (or cream of chicken) soup

1 8 oz. container sour cream

Cut the chicken into small chunks and place in bottom of your baking dish. Mix soup and sour cream and pour over the chicken. Stir them a bit to mix things up. Mix stuffing with the amount of hot water listed on the box. (I just use hot tap water.) Distribute stuffing over top the chicken mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until chicken is done. This meal also freezes well and is a great one to take a friend in need. (I usually buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts when they go on sale for about $1.79 lb. I buy large quantities and divide them up into meal portions then freeze them for later.)

You need a great baking pan! - I make almost all of my meals in a 9x13 baking pan

Here are some great baking dishes for your quick meal!

Le Creuset Stoneware 10-1/2-by-13-1/4-Inch Deep Dish Baker, Red
Le Creuset Stoneware 10-1/2-by-13-1/4-Inch Deep Dish Baker, Red

I make almost all my recipes in a stoneware baker. They cook evenly and the pan helps the food stay hot if my husband is running a bit late for dinner!


Kid-Friendly Stir Fried Rice

8 eggs

3/4 lb frozen peas

16 oz. kielbasa (I usually use turkey because it is lower in fat) or 10 pack hot dogs

2 cups rice (I use brown rice)

salt & pepper to taste

Cut kielbasa into small chunks and fry in 12 inch skillet. (You can use a pack of hotdogs instead of the kielbasa.) While that is frying, heat the peas and make rice. I have used Instant rice or regular rice--whatever I have in the cupboard. When the kielbasa is fried, push it to the side of the pan and scramble the 8 eggs in the skillet. Mix the meat and the eggs together, add the rice and the peas and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir fry all of it in the skillet until it is well combined and heated through.

These tools make cooking easier!

Farberware Classic Series Stainless Steel 4.5-Quart Covered Sauté Pan with Helper Handle
Farberware Classic Series Stainless Steel 4.5-Quart Covered Sauté Pan with Helper Handle

I use my covered 12 inch skillet daily in my kitchen. You can make everything and anything with this pan!

Kuhn Rikon 2315 Epicurean Garlic Press, 100, Silver
Kuhn Rikon 2315 Epicurean Garlic Press, 100, Silver

Fresh garlic tastes so much better and adds just that extra bit of zing to your recipes!


Here's why I need some quick, easy, kid-friendly meals!

Six of these lovies are mine, the other 3 are visiting. I often have up to 9 or 10 kids (mine plus their friends) to feed at any given dinner time. So these recipes are tried and true!

The Most Important Kitchen Tools

If you don't have anything else, you need a great 9x13 pan and a great 12 inch skillet!

Do you have any great, quick, easy recipes?

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    • goldenrulecomics profile image


      5 years ago from New Jersey

      My wife is the cook of the family, but these look like nice recipes!

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image


      6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      I've never tried kielbasa in stir fry, but I think the fam would love it!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Shepherd's Pie is my favorite!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Love these frugal family meals. I am sort of past that era, but yes I have a whole series of recipes right here on Squidoo called Quick Kids Meals, and another one called Quick Gourmet...cause life is too short to spend all your time in the kitchen, you know?

    • homeschoolmomof4 profile image


      7 years ago

      gonna have to try some of those

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good quick recipes.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      7 years ago from Royalton

      Those recipes sure do sound quick and easy. Thanks for sharing.

      Squid Angel Blessed!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I think the kid friendly stir fry is a great recipe! I have always been challenged trying to fix some sort of stir fry to my family...hope this works for them. Thanks for sharing.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      Sometimes we make taco salad with the taco seasoned hamburger. Let everyone assemble their own from the shredded lettuce, tortilla chips, black olives, etc.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Kids are great.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This looks like my house only I only have four.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @lasertek lm: Quote "Here's why I need some quick, easy, kid-friendly meals!" I really like that part.

    • jolou profile image


      7 years ago

      Great topic for a lens. You certainly know from experience what kids love, and all of these can be made really fast. That's such a cute picture of the baby!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Quote "Here's why I need some quick, easy, kid-friendly meals!" I really like that part!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Yup... actually mine are very close to yours.. and of course, being in Kuwait we have to have all of our ricey dishes :)

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 

      7 years ago

      Wow, what a family!

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 

      7 years ago

      My wife will surely love to try these recipes. Thanks for sharing.

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image


      7 years ago

      Nicely done. Great tips too.

    • MarianaFargasch profile image


      7 years ago

      looks yummy! thanks for great lens! 5*!

    • tiff0315 profile image


      7 years ago

      I've been looking for some new recipes. These look great!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I would say that you would have to be an expert on do it quick. Saving time seems to be something we all want to do. I'm single and spending a lot of time cooking just doesn't make sense and your quick and easy recipes will fit right into my life style and there will be leftovers for other days.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 

      7 years ago from So Cal

      Shepherd's pie for dinner tonight. Thanks

    • TheCountrySignS profile image


      7 years ago

      I use my crock pot a lot, saves me all kinds of time when I get home from work. Your recipes look yummy, can't wait to try them. Thanks!

    • TheresaMarkham profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for the great recipes! I'm looking forward to trying them!

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Thanks for sharing these quick & easy recipes, I grew up in a family of 10 kids so can relate to the need for fast and inexpensive meals. That was long ago but I still don't wish to spend many hours fussing over food, want quick & easy. The shepherd's pie looks especially appealing.

    • blessedmomto7 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @marsha32: thanks for the blessing!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      quick, easy, cheap, and good---all for me. These recipes look great!

      Blessed by a Squid Angel

    • ToTheBrimm LM profile image

      ToTheBrimm LM 

      8 years ago

      Beautiful family (extended).

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I like all of these!

    • maytheforcebewi profile image


      8 years ago

      I LOVE shepherd's Pie!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I might try the rice recipe, wonder if canned chicken would work... but I'll try hot dogs first. :)

    • Joyfulmusic90 profile image


      8 years ago

      Nope, but I need some! Thanks!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love the Shepherd's Pie! Yumm!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Quick, easy and I don't need to have michelin stars and a team of chefs behind me. Thank you thank you thank you.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      my kind of cooking

      I found another recipe that I want to add to my Frugal Family Friendly Recipes Lens....and will lensroll this to it as well.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Great classic standbys. We love Shepherd's Pie too.

    • GonnaFly profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      I'm a great fan of quick, easy, cheap, healthy food. Great lens.

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 

      8 years ago

      Great quick and easy recipes. No wonder you need them!!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      8 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Look at all those kids! Very nice lens.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image


      9 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      These all look delicious, Carol!


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