I try to plan our meals for the week on the weekend when I have Luc around to distract the boys. That way I can at least mostly wrap my head around trying to get things to balance: meats, veggies, no repeats within the last few weeks. It is a big job, and one I frankly tire of sometimes. But my family and I appreciate the thought that goes into the preparation when we’re sitting at the table. The advanced work also helps during a busy week. Who wants to come home from work deciding what to make for dinner that night, much less have to stop at the store to pick something up? While I go some weeks planning one meal at a time, that usually ends up in lots of extra trips to the co-op. This is fine on occasion but not how I ideally operate.
Sunday morning I sat down with my cookbooks and paged through the recipes. I keep a collection of recipes from the Internet, magazines, etc. in a 3-ring binder which I’ve divided into sections: beef/lamb, poultry, pork, seafood, salads & soups, and baked goods/treats. I find it easiest to start planning with my protein, then fill in with veggies. I try to pick a variety of protein sources for the week so that we’re not eating beef for three nights in a row. Also, I plan for a higher-carb dinner on the nights that Luc lifts weights: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. While all of this may seem rigid, it can actually be helpful in planning to give my week a framework.
After I’ve picked my recipes, I sit down with my grocery list and make sure I have everything I need for my dinners. I don’t really plan breakfasts or lunches, since these are usually just leftovers from dinner. Easy! Yesterday I was doing my monthly discount trip, so I had to take extra time to check the pantry, fridge, and freezer for things that we often buy (more on this later). All told, it probably took me about an hour to do all of these things. Now I was ready to shop.