Easier Meal Time: 5 Super Strategies (2024)

Meal times can be tough. There is a lot going on and things can change quickly, causing stress and the “what’s for dinner?” anxiety. It doesn’t have to be that way! Here are 5 super strategies for an easier meal time.

As someone who dreads meal time myself, these aren’t going to be your “just get organized – meal plan and spend a day making freezer meals” type of strategies. Sure, I’d be remiss to not mention meal planning, but let’s be real about it!

These 5 super strategies, with a few smaller suggestions, will make a difference toward having an easier meal time!

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I will admit it, I dread meal times. Especially now, when the kids have been learning from home since last spring. That means, three meals and a snack or two a day for them, usually a different lunch or breakfast for myself, and figuring out my husband’s schedule for a dinner for all of us.

I’m so over it! How about you?

It isn’t all bad. There have been a few things that have helped for easier meal times. So, I thought now would be a good time to round all those up and share what helps me.

If you have some fantastic tips for easier meal times, please share them in the comments below!!

Easier Meal Time Strategies

1. Plan Ahead

You don’t have to be a master meal planner. I’m not! However, here are a few things even the most unorganized person can do to make meal time easier.

Know your schedule

The worst part about meal time for me is when something suddenly comes up. Well, let’s be honest, it’s probably not “sudden” but I didn’t plan for it. For instance, on nights where my husband has night classes or my daughter has a virtual playdate, it’s better just to plan for leftovers rather than a large meal.

Before planning your meals for the week, take a look at your calendar. Make it easy for yourself on busy nights – go for leftovers, slow cooker, or an easy meal. That way, those delicious meals you have planned won’t get pushed back and you don’t have to struggle to fill in with something easy but less nutritious.

Create a meal plan

I know, I know… This is the main part of the problem for most of us. Unless you’re a natural planner, this is half the battle. However, it does help to get have an idea.

Have trouble creating a meal plan? Just jot down 2 meals you’d like to make during the week. Or, go through your fridge and jot down food that needs to be eaten. Start simple.

Also Read: Easy Meal Plan System

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Shop this photo: Weekly Planner | Planner | Pens

Make a shopping list

As I just mentioned, shop your own fridge, pantry, and freezer first. Then, think about the meals you’d like to make, and make a list from there.

There is nothing worse than having a meal planned, but finding out you don’t actually have those tomatoes you thought were in the fridge.

Also Read: How to Prepare for a No Spend Period

Leave wiggle room

As I mentioned earlier, when things come up it can get stressful! Make meal times easier by leaving yourself a little wiggle room.

If you know a night is going to be busy, pencil in leftovers or pizza. That’s a perfectly good plan too! It also helps to have a backup plan for those things you can’t control. Have a couple meals you know you have the ingredients for and can whip up in a pinch.

Also Read: Breakfast Meal Prep Ideas

2. Easier shopping

We all know that shopping is half the battle when it comes to meals! However, it has to be done!

Grocery pickup

The pandemic has changed the way we all have been shopping. I really miss my ALDI shopping and leisurely meandering through the aisles.

However, I realized that grocery pickup is also pretty great! I keep adding to my list through the week or right when I plan our meals. Then, everything is right there for me to check and, finally, pickup.

What an easy way to take the stress out of forgetting to add things to the list, or forgetting your list at home!

Meal delivery

There are so many meal delivery services out there to choose from. You can have the ingredients delivered and make the meal yourself, or you can have ready-made meals delivered.

Last week, I tried Nutrition for Longevity pre-made meals for 3 days. I ordered the pescatarian option. The meals look beautiful, but I have to tell you they were lacking in flavor. I finally got lucky with day 3 – the cranberry salad was a little more flavorful and the shrimp with roasted root vegetables was delicious!

Even if the meals in this box weren’t my favorite, I’m glad to have tried this option. All the work is done for you by Registered Dietitians and in-house Chefs. Meal delivery services are a great way to get out of a funk of cooking the same old thing, and help mix it up!

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3. Simplify the work

Cutting corners is not only totally acceptable to make meals easier, it’s encouraged! Save yourself some trouble wherever you can.

Cook a lot of one protein

One idea for saving time is to cook extra of the protein you have planned. Cook a large batch of ground beef and onions for adding to other recipes. Cook more chicken breasts than you need. Make some for the current meal and have some cooked to add to other things. For instance, tonight we’re having fajitas. I have enough chicken for our fajitas and will be throwing some chicken breasts in the oven for cesear salads and our favorite chicken chili (the recipe is here – you can use frozen or add cooked near the end.)

Similar ingredients with different flavors

To make shopping easier for the week and help you use up food before it spoils, plan your meals using similar ingredients. Switch up the flavors and it will be easy but feel varied.

For instance, you can make roasted root vegetables, broccoli, and cauliflower one night. Make baked potatoes with broccoli the next. Then, use the rest of your cauliflower as rice or to make a pizza crust. Yum!

Also Read: Crockpot Lentil Tacos

4. Double it up

If you have to cook, you might as well double it! It doesn’t take twice the time because you’re cooking it anyway. It definitely takes less time to prep and cook everything at once.


We always make enough for leftovers. Our family enjoys eating them. It works out well for lunches. I also just love to have random leftovers as a backup plan if I know we’re going to have a crazy day during the week where it doesn’t make sense to cook.

Freeze meals

If you’re not a huge fan of eating leftovers, or if they go forgotten at your house, freeze them. If you double the meal your cooking, just set aside half to freeze for a busy night. It helps space out the meals, but still gives you an opportunity to have something easy on hand and only having to cook once. You can get a large set of 50 freezer containers for a good price here.

Also Read: Slow Cooker Chicken Chili

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5. Tools to help!

Crockpot. I looove my slow cooker. In fact, I have two. We don’t even have a fancy one with all the bells and whistles, but it’s still one of my favorite tools for easy meal time. I love to set something in the crockpot and smell it all day knowing I don’t have to do anymore than serve it up. We have and oval Crockpot for larger meals like roasts and chicken chili, and a smaller, round Crockpot that we use for things like our taco lentils.

USA pan. These. Are. The. Best. I can’t say enough about USA pans. We have converted every pan we own and only have USA now. I love them! If you want to make meal time easier by making cleanup easier, these are the pans you should be using. This is my most-used pan ever!

Also Read: Frozen Breakfast Sandwiches with sheet pan eggs!

Toaster Oven / Air Fryer. If you’re cooking for one, or often cooking meals for kids, a toaster oven is the way to go! I’ve had once since college, when I used it all the time to cook for myself. Now, with having the kids home and making lunches or warming frozen meals for the two of them, I use our toaster oven all the time. Our toaster oven even has an air fryer option, so that is especially useful and make meal time easier.

Instant Pot. We’ve never had an Instant Pot, but if Pinterest tells me anything isn’t that an Instant Pot is the way to go and people have plenty of recipes for them! It sounds like there are as many fans of Instant Pots as there are Crockpots for easy meal times. We don’t discriminate!

Do you have any tips for an easier meal time?

I’d love to hear them! As with everything around here, I share my struggles with you and gather info and tips based on what I need and what’s going on in our lives. I live for more info and smart tips from moms!!

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