I try to plan a loose menu most weeks, but the summer has made that a bit hard to do since I never know what I am going to find at the grocery store that will simply beg to come home with me from the produce section. Our grocery store has begun selling many more items from local farms so, I'm always looking to see what will inspire our week's meals.
Even so, I still like to pull out a handful of cookbooks that speak to the type of meals I am wanting to make for the upcoming week, such as the one's in this photo:
So, the first thing I do - even during the busy school year - is look at the upcoming calendar to see what we have planned. Could be some late day appointments, a few hours at the pool after the boys finish camp or just a quiet night at home. After figuring out just how many nights we are truly going to be eating at home, I know how many "full" meals we will need and I search for recipes that will satsify everyone (or at least try to!). On the busier nights, I keep some convenience items in my pantry or freezer that just need a bit of "dressing up" to fill out a complete meal in a matter of 20 minutes or so.
This week, I am testing out a cookbook I found at the library that focuses on the busy family and things that can be made ahead and taken on the go. I selected a couple of recipes to try so that I can build up a list of go-to things that will work once soccer practice is in full swing in September. We will need some filling snacks for that time between pick-up at school and on the way to practice. Then, something we can come home to that won't take forever to prepare.
Once I select 2-3 new recipes and plan for a few stand-by recipes I write up the shopping list. Everyone has their own method, but I prefer to organize my list the way my favorite store is set-up. I do it by memory, which was a bit trying a few months ago when they decided to reorganize everything on me! But, now I'm back on track and can find everything I need in a reasonable amount of time. Some people like to put their list into a spreadsheet or some other computer program. I tried that for awhile, but ended up going back to good old fashioned paper. It just works for me.
I do one big trip a week to pick up everything. The only things I go back for are additional produce we might have run low on and fish or any other seafood since I prefer to buy it the day I am preparing it. Since time is a precious commodity, the once a week trip works best for us.
My plan is pretty loose and sometimes I will pick up ingredients for something and time gets away from me or we just aren't in the mood for one of the meals that has been planned. When that happens, it may get bumped to the next week or I will use the ingredients in something else.
Now, that I've shared what I do when planning our meals... I'd love to hear how you plan for the upcoming week. What are your challenges when it comes to weekly planning? Do you use a set plan each week (i.e.: Monday - chicken, Tuesday - pork, Wednesday - meatless, etc.)? I'm sure we could all learn a bit from each other when it comes to feeding our families!
Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.