The Secret to Having Great Dinner Ideas Every Time

How to Make A Meal Plan and Other Great Kitchen Hacks

Photo by Stefan Vladimirov on Unsplash

Raid the Fridge

Look in your fridge and make a list of all of the random ingredients you have. It doesn’t matter that none of it seems to equal a meal; just make the darn list. Next, group things together that might pair nicely, like carrots and onions. Google the paired items, like “carrot and onion recipes.” Do this for all of the random ingredients from your list. Choose recipes that entice you. Save the recipe. Start a grocery list, adding the items from your recipes that you don’t have yet.

What You Love to Eat

Think of the meals you love to eat. These are the things you buy when you go out to eat. If you’re a sucker for a taco truck, then plan to make tacos at home. Don’t forget to add the favorites Mom or Grandma used to make to the list. What about what you ate two weeks ago? Were any meals so good that you’d want them again? Add them to the list.

A Cookbook

Everyone has a cookbook lying around. Since the invention of Google, they don’t get enough love. I love something about my cookbooks; I can get them in my hands and turn the pages. Flip through a cookbook and find any recipes that call out. Be sure to add the ingredients to your shopping list.

Freezer Meals

When you hit a wall, you can always turn to the store’s ready-made freezer meals. Some ideas are pot pies, t.v. dinners, lasagna, pizza, ravioli, fried chicken, and stir fry mix of frozen vegetables to pair with steamed rice.

Break it down into routines

Rather than try to tackle the whole kitchen all at once, have simple routines. While the coffee brews, sweep the floor. After dinner, put away the food and wipe down the stove and counters. As you cook, keep a tub of hot soapy water and wash the dishes from cooking, or rinse them as you go and load the dishwasher.

Rotate rags and sponges

Every morning when the coffee is brewing or when you first enter the kitchen, swap out your dishrag for a fresh, clean one. Toss any sponges in the washing machine or dishwasher. Alternatively, you can boil them on the stove or get them wet and microwave them for two minutes.


Boil a cup of chopped celery on the stove to give your house a fresh, clean smell. If you’d like to go for the smell of Fall, boil one teaspoon of each: cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg OR one tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice. For a different approach, enlist an essential oil diffuser. My favorite blend is five drops of thieves oil, five drops of orange oil, and five drops of lavender oil.

Fresh Coffee

The secret to a really great cup of coffee starts with a clean coffee pot. Run vinegar and water through your coffee pot to remove hard water build-up from inside the machine. Next, give the coffee pot a good scrub with soap and water. If you make your coffee with a reusable filter, make sure to give it a good scrub with hot soapy water as well.

The Microwave

To make cleaning the microwave nice and easy, place a bowl of lemon water in the microwave and heat for five minutes. Carefully remove the bowl and wipe down the inside of the microwave; everything will be softened and smelling lovely from the steamy lemon water.

The Sink

To give your sink that new shiny look, you’re going to need an old toothbrush and some dental floss. Use the dental floss to floss around the sink knobs to pull out the gunk. Scrub behind the sink and under the knobs with the toothbrush. Give the sink a good rinse. Finally, spray the entire sink with vinegar and wipe it down with a polishing cloth.

Baking Soda Is Your Friend

Use a paste of baking soda on the inside of the oven, then spray with vinegar. Let soak for thirty minutes. Wipe clean to reveal a beautiful clean range. You can use the same method on stained up baking pans to make them look new again.

Creator of a parenting blog for writers and author of Bold Truth Mama: parenting pregnancy through toddlerhood.

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