Restaurateur, mother, Food Network Canada star: Devin Connell knows all about being pressed for time. Here are her meal-planning tips to live by.

We all know the rush: You get home exhausted from work and realize you’ve forgotten about dinner. That means another scrapped-together meal or expensive take-out. It doesn’t have to be this way. Follow this advice from Devin Connell, Toronto-based chef and star of Food Network Canada’s Chef in Your Ear, and you’ll be eating well all week.


No Rest on Sunday

Spend a little bit of time on the weekend to save a whole lot of time during the week. “It’s just really about committing to spending two or three hours on Sunday to fill your fridge up with the basics, and combine them in interesting and different ways throughout the week.”

Prepare Elements, Not Meals

Here’s how meal planning of ten goes— and dies: Make a big pot of chili on the weekend, portion it out, and eat it all week. The problem? By Wednesday you’re sick of chili. “You don’t have to go the whole way with one thing,” says Connell. “Break your Sunday cook down: roast your proteins; do your veggies; and cook your starches separately, and then you can doctor them each up in different ways as the week goes by. It’s more about assembly during the week as opposed to cooking.”

Versatile Veggies

“A great way to use up veggies is soups. My family eats a lot of roasted root vegetables, so on a Sunday night I’ll roast sweet potatoes, parsnips and butternut squash and serve it with a roast chicken. Then the next day I’ll puree whatever’s left over with a little chicken stock to make a soup that’ll be good for the entire week.

Plan for Everyone

While having kids makes set meal times more important, it also makes them more tricky, as what young kids can (and, really, will) eat doesn’t always excite their food loving parents. “It’s hard when families try to cook multiple meals,” she says. “But it’s also unrealistic to think your two-year-old is going to eat marinated octopus.” Connell has a solution: prepare a basic, kid-friendly version of something that can be tweaked for adult taste buds.

Early Planning for Mornings

While everyone frets over the evening meal, mornings rush by even more frantically. But quality breakfasts are just a few simple steps away. “I make a dry pancake mix—wholewheat flour, ground almonds, the baking powder and all that—and keep it in a big jar I can leave at room temperature and it’s good for a month. In the mornings all I have to do is add eggs and milk, and it’s ready in pretty much as long as it takes to make toast.”

Chef in Your Ear airs Mondays at 10 pm ET. Find out more about this show here.

Get more recipes and entertaining ideas here: The Kit’s Fall Guide