Do you plan your meals ahead of time? I do. Mainly because I have to and I find it makes the weekly shop a lot easier. I have a 2yo whose love for shopping is only as long as he can sit in the shopping trolley seat without whining. If I don't plan what to buy and go der-der-ing down the aisles, he gets whiny before I get done. If I take the trouble to do a little work and plan ahead, we zip up and down and ta-dah! - home before the whining starts.
Here's what I do. I draw up a meal plan for the entire week for lunches and dinners. I take into account that Dear Hubby doesn't enjoy rice for every meal and that Connor must get his veges and protein. I mix up Asian and Western foods for the week and with that plan, I make out my shopping list for the week.
It also makes it easier if you plan meals that can fit your toddler and the whole family. For example on the nights I plan on a salad with a baked Cajun chicken breast for the hubby and me, Connor gets a herbed chicken breast with baked potato. All the extra work I need to do is peel one potato. The prep for the chicken is the same, just make sure I don't mix the herbs up with the Cajun spices, pop it all into oven and there's dinner done for the whole family.
Another way to plan your meals is to have similar items spaced a day or two apart. For example I often cook a large batch of mince and have it over 2 days. Brown it with onions, toss in tomatoes, lots of herbs, diced carrots and peas and you have a great base that can work with shepherd's pie, pasta or rice. If you cook a big batch, divide it up into containers and freeze it for next week's meal. Don't ever put everything into one huge container and freeze it, how on earth are you going to dig out one meal's worth to thaw then? Think ahead a little and you'll find it really saves time and effort.
I've found that once I started doing this, I've stopped wondering what to cook for dinner come 3pm and then when I've settled on one dish, I find that one vital ingredient is missing. The shopping bill has also trimmed as I don't accidentally buy double of what I need anymore because I know exactly what I need for the entire week before I set out.
Give it a try, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how helpful it can be to organise your time.