Now I have collected my brain and remembered that this week’s topic is: meal planning. We’ll all describe how we go about planning our meals each week. Then, next week we’ll each give you a sample of a week’s meal plan.
Meal planning is definitely a style thing. I have probably tried every style on for size… plan dinners a month ahead, plan dinners a week ahead, cycle weekly meal plans through until we run out and lastly, buy a bunch of groceries and decide daily what to eat. I don’t feel that I’ve found my perfect solution to meal planning. I just keep trying different things and trying to find a sustainable model!
What I’m currently doing is taking some time each week to finding about 4 recipes I’d like to cook. Then, I come up with my grocery list (last week I used ALDI’s planner). I add our staples to the grocery list, which are things like bread, tortillas, multigrain pasta, yogurt, milk, eggs, frozen chicken breasts, fresh produce that’s on sale, etc. Then, I have all these things on hand for breakfast, lunches and simple dinner nights. Usually I find that 4 recipes is enough to give me some structure in my meal plan, but also enables me to be spontaneous on the 3 other nights I haven’t planned for.
After buying the ingredients I need for my recipes and buying our staples, I usually decide daily what recipe to use. I take into consideration what items will go bad quickly and use them early in the week. If something comes up and my dinner prep time is more cramped than I expected, then we go simple with quesadillas and canned fruit, or breakfast burritos and sliced apples. Or I pull out one of the freezer meals I have made with my cooking group.
I’m a big fan on one pan/pot dinners. I do not feel the need to have a main dish, two side items, salad and dessert for every dinner. At my table you will often find a hearty soup and bread or stir fry with rice, or some sort of casserole that ties in multiple food groups.
So, this is what works for us, based on my personality and my husband’s meal preferences. He is totally okay with those breakfast burrito nights and is usually not too particular about what’s for dinner. Again, I’d like to emphasize that meal planning is not “one size fits all.” We hope you will be helped by hearing what each of us do and gleaning ideas to use in your unique home.