meal planning

For the past couple of years, I keep meaning to start meal planning - organizing what to eat on a given night instead of just "winging" it after I get home. You see, when that happens, I end up either ordering food, or eating whatever is quickest, just as I'm sure many others do. It's not as bad now as it was when I lived alone - then, I regularly ate cheese for dinner. Yes, just cheese. Or hummus and tortilla chips. Or frozen vegetables heated up with salt. I mean, when you live alone it kind of sucks to cook for one person.

Last year, when Chris and I first moved in here, I was really in to using my slowcooker and I made us food every night. Then....well, life happened. Usually now, I cook something one night a week, we make something easy a few nights a week (for example, taquitos from Trader Joes), and we end up giving in and getting takeout sometimes. No organization. No real regard for nutrition (though we don't have much in the house that's terrible for you). It's time for a change.

So now, friends, I have a question for you all: does anyone have any idea how I do this? What's the best way to plan ahead when you are exhausted, working a lot, and just plain don't have the mental capacity to think of creative food???


  1. I sort of cook every week. Matthew now works 9-5 mon-fri so there are a lot of nights when we're both here for dinner. The only nights I'm not here is when I close so I, too, am trying to find the best routine. Usually, I just make sure to buy a staple few items when grocery shopping each week: ground beef and chicken breasts (i buy the bag of 6 individually wrapped pieces so i can make 3 at a time). Typically I can find a recipe for either and I'll make one or both in one week.

    Just start finding recipes and vamping old ones. I usually make French's fried onion chicken every other week (we love it!) and there's always some sort of taco casserole or something that needs ground beef!

    then again, i always cooked at home so i guess this comes easier for me than some. but if you start buying basics, you'll probably find recipes for each ;)

  2. This is one area where I don't plan obsessively. But I do find that at the grocery store on Sundays I can usually say "Ok we'll have spaghetti one night, chicken breasts with asparagus another, and broccoli caserole another night" and something of that nature usually helps me end up with 3 or 4 full meals worth of food in my cart. Usually the hubs and I talk around lunch time and have a "whats for dinner" call. Knowing what few meals I kinda thought about at the store I can make a suggestion and he can thaw something out. It's not too planned but it works for us.

    However, being the obsessive planner I am, I've also considered buying a dry erase board with Sun-Sat on it and writing down what's for dinner each night. But seriously, that seems like too much planning. Even for me.

  3. I know I'm not the best person to answer this question, since I am still at home job searching and have more time than most to make meals, but just some ideas...
    - I agree w/ Cheryl, if you can do all your grocery shopping on Sat/Sun so you have things for the week that would help. Come up w/ 3-5 meal ideas and buy accordingly.
    -Make enough for left overs the following night if you know the next day is going to be extra busy.
    -If you can find time on Sunday, even while watching TV or something, do the prep work for your recipes...like cutting up all the veggies and storing them in the frig, or put the things you are going to be using the next day to make your meal on your counter the night before.
    -Use your slow cooker!! I have a lot of recipes if you want me to send you any. And make simple marinades that you can put your meat in before you leave in the morning- then you will def. be more inclined to make that meal/meat that evening.
    -Stock up on frozen veggies and easy sides when they are on sale so you have a bunch to choose from in the house and the main thing you need to worry about is the meat/main dish.

  4. We try to plan our menus out on Saturday or Sunday and then go grocery shopping together. Some weeks when we're really busy, we plan to eat a few Amy's frozen meals instead of cooking dinner. It helps us a lot to plan meals out in advance!