Dinner’s On! 20 Easy Plan Ahead Dinners

A client asked for help for the witching hour.  You know, the one where everyone wants your attention, and you’re just trying to make sure everyone gets fed? Organizing meal plans and planning ahead is the key to having dinner on the table and still having enough energy to eat it.  With three young children, she needed meals that were:

  • easy to prepare
  • healthy
  • yummy
  • something the kids might be able to help prep
  • nearly always on-hand in an organized pantry or fridge, or easy to shop for

She agreed that she always has fresh fruits, veggies, and a side dish (pasta, couscous, rice, or bread) on hand. The main part of the meal was tripping her up.  She owned a crockpot, but wasn’t using it often.  We came up with these 20 go-to meals that she could shop for just once a week or so, that her family would eat.  The real beauty is that none of these meals are fussy or hard to shop for, and many can be thrown in the crock-pot at breakfast time, before the day gets crazy. Organizing dinner during breakfast is the best way I know of to ensure an organized day.

In my house, I get no extra points for complicated meals, but I get actual cheers for their favorite meals offered 5 days of the week.  So find your faves and stick to them, especially when you can prep ahead.

Dinner's On. 20 Easy Plan Ahead Dinners

Go To Meals: (* indicates crock-pot meals)


Spaghetti and meatballs


Mac and cheese



*Roast with carrots and potatoes

*Chicken with wine & black olives

*Chicken and stuffing

Fish (flounder) and chips

English muffin pizzas

*Chicken Corn Chowder

*Turkey chili


Quesadillas w/beans & rice

Tuna fish sandwiches

Calzones using Pillsbury crescent rolls

*Sausage, with peppers or mushrooms and onions

*Turkey tenterloin with cranberry sauce and stuffing

*Barbeque chicken

While some of these meals still have prep time, they are mostly easy preparations, like being able to bake flounder from frozen at the same time the french fries bake in the oven.  Sure, it takes 5 minutes to put them in the oven, but then you have 20 minutes to do homework at the kitchen table.

Do you have any easy family favorite main dishes that you would rotate into this list?