The bi-directional mode expansion propagation algorithm (BEP) is known to be an accurate and efficient method for modelling field distribution in high-index contrast waveguide structures with strong back-reflections like Bragg gratings and photonic crystals. The main difficulty of this method is that for lossy structures, the propagation constants of modes are to be searched in the complex plane. To speed-up this procedure, a two-step algorithm for eigenmode calculation based on the expansion into the modes of an empty metallic waveguide has recently been proposed. Proper truncation rules possessing good convergence of the expansion method for both TE and TM modes have also been recently published. In this contribution, both these approaches are combined in the development of an extremely simple version of the two-dimensional BEP method that makes use of the field expansion into the eigenmodes of a parallel-plate waveguide. The method is strictly reciprocal and appeared to be computationally reliable also for strongly lossy structures. High numerical stability is ensured using the scattering matrix formalism, and an efficient method of calculating Bloch modes for symmetric as well as asymmetric periodic waveguide structures is adopted. A wide range of applicability of the method is demonstrated by a few examples.