Have a Plan – What’s for Dinner?

what's for dinner have a plan

Not Sure What to Make for Dinner?

Not having a plan is a challenge in achieving and maintaining health goals. Often doing the right thing at breakfast and lunch isn’t hard but when dinner rolls around, whether single, coupled up, or having a family the What’s for dinner question can take the best day and turn it upside down.

Meal delivery services

Would you love to have someone shop and just give you the food and recipes to make? A meal delivery service might be your answer. Here in Dallas there’s one called Field to Meal—I blogged about them before. They source local food, Field_to_Mealcreate menus and deliver the ingredients with the recipes to your door.  There are large operations like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron delivering nationwide. But I love the concept of local sourcing Field to Meal offers.

Those are great solutions for people who don’t like to find recipes and shop. Spend about 30 minutes and the meal is on the table. Simple. Fresh. Fast.


Don’t mind shopping but stumped on what to make?

Another option is a meal planning subscription service. Subscription services offer recipes and meal ideas with shopping lists for a low monthly cost (less than $10). Check out mymenupal.comnomoretogo.com, and cooksmart.com.

If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer I’m sure you’ve got neglected cookbooks. Some of my favorites are from Cooking Light. Actually one of my favorites is very old, from 1999, Five Ingredients in 15 Minutes. It features a full picture on one side of the page and the recipes and shopping list with a side dish on the other. Fortunately, it’s been updated and Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast: Over 280 Incredibly Flavorful 5-Ingredient 15-Minute RecipesHave a Plan - What's for Dinner? is available.

Dinner_neily_beef_salad_hellofresh_mothersdayI like simplicity. Some cookbooks are just too complicated or include an ingredient you might use once. Spend time at Half Price Books and check out their cookbook area. You’re bound to find bargains and of course the opportunity to browse before you buy.

Another place to look is Pinterest for the total do-it-yourselfer. You can find an incredible amount of ideas. Think…slow cooker/crockpot or make your own freezer meals. Yes! Prepare your own freezer meals to have on hand for weeks. Pretty cool stuff. I’ve linked to my Pinterest page for ideas.

Organize dinners by themes

A colleague Susan Nicholson, wrote a book several years ago, the 7-Day Menu Planner For DummiesHave a Plan - What's for Dinner?. I liked the idea she had planning each day with a certain theme or label. In her book she included: family, kids, express, budget, heat and eat, meatless, easy entertaining, and more. Those are great ideas.

Another idea might be:

  • Monday – go meatless. You can find great information at meatless Monday.com
  • Tuesday – slow cooker
  • Wednesday – chicken
  • Thursday – soup and sandwich
  • Friday – taco bar or make your own pizza alternate weeks
  • One of those nights can be leftovers from the night before. For example, make extra chicken Wednesday and use the chicken for sandwiches Thursday night.

I recommend keeping a list of ‘go-to’ ideas. Once you get in the habit of making meals, you start to have favorites. Keep a list of those and before you know it, dinner indecision and stress will be a thing of the past.

Got the goods but have no clue what to do?

Have you ever opened the fridge thinking, I’ve got all this food, what can I do with it? Shopping is not the problem, the food is there. When you’ve got the goods but have no clue what to do, there’s the supercook.com website to help you out. Enter the ingredients on the website or app and recipe ideas pop up giving you answers to “What’s for dinner?” (breakfast or lunch).

Which is your best option?

It might take time to figure out what fits your lifestyle. Taking care of your health is not an easy task. One of my favorite quotes is from Jim Take care of your body...Jim Rohn quote-Shadow2014Rohn, “Take care of your body – it’s the only place you have to live.”

What’s your best option? Is it a meal delivery service? A meal subscription service? Sitting down with your neglected cookbooks? Or spending time on the internet with sites like Pinterest? Regardless most require making the time to do it. What’s your plan?

Scheduling the time

Having a plan still requires…planning. And having the time to make the plan. Scheduling the time to plan is a challenge.

One of my clients couldn’t find the time on the weekend. Her daughter lived nearby and spontaneously asked her to do things with her grandchildren. But she never knew when. As we talked it over, she realized her daughter never called Saturday morning – perfect. That was the time she’d use to plan for the coming week and prepare the grocery list.

grocery store, shopping, grocery shoppingShe even got her husband involved which had unexpected benefits. They started spending more quality time together. He was helping with the decisions about meals where previously during the week late afternoon/early evening would roll around and the “What do you want for dinner” question would come up with the usual, “whatever” response.

Instead of preparing a meal, they would end up going out or getting takeout – contributing to her increasing blood pressure due to weight gain. Also by planning the menu she could prepare a comprehensive grocery list and send hubby off to the store – one less thing on her to-do list. A by-product of that was an improvement in her emotional health!

At the end of our time together she reported some terrific non-scale victories – not just hers, her husbands! His doctor reduced hubby’s blood pressure medication. Eating more at home – less restaurant and take-out meals reduced their sodium consumption considerably.

What’s your plan? How do you cope with the What’s for Dinner question? Let me know in the comments below. (I might include your ideas in my forthcoming book!)

Photo credits: Neily on Nutrition and pixabay.com

Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach


  1. Senecca L. Preston

    Hello Professor Neily,

    I enjoyed reading this article. It had some great ideas about what to eat for dinner. Meal planning can save a lot of time and money.

    Thank you,
    Senecca L. Preston

    • Neily

      Glad you found it helpful Senecca!

  2. jacky ward

    I love this article, i need to learn whats good and bad and how to plan, just this article alone, makes me feel better about planning my meals

    • Neily

      I see you scheduled a strategy session – perfect! I look forward to chatting to see where you need to go.


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