I like to tell you I have an efficient system all mapped out. I don't. I cook something we haven't had in a day or two. I shop when we're out of stuff. I fix what I feel like eating. I'm useless for your survey, I imagine.
I make a meal plan every Wednesday for dinners through the following Wednesday. I usually do one of each: asian, sandwhiches, main dish salad, crock pot, italian, mexican, and comfort food. I have a list of possible dinners under each of those categories in a program on my computer (called YummySoup! on the Mac), and I just scroll through them.Then I go shopping every Wed night (because that is usually when the sales start here in Utah).
my husband goes shopping once a month (apparently i shop with my stomach and not my head!) and then we do little fill-in shopping each week for things like extra milk, bread, etc. i cook whatever pops into my head when i'm on the way home after work. i've tried to plan out meals each week, but something always threw a kink into the plans and there i was with meat thawed or vegetables going bad in the fridge bc i didn't get to that meal. i find that the "fly by the seat of my pants" approach works best ;)
I plan a list of meals for an entire month, then make a shopping list based on the meal list and go shopping for the entire month at once (after my kids are in bed). Then I plan what day we will eat each meal (so things are spaced evenly) and write them on a calendar. That way every morning I look at the meal calendar and know whats for dinner and take meat out of the freezer or start up the crockpot or whatever. It leads to less eating out, and saves us some money, and requires none of the dread of me trying to figure what to make at 6:00pm while everyone is starving.
I just started doing the meal planning thing. I listed out all the meals that we have ever eaten (and liked) that I could remember. I ordered the list by what meat we usually have with it...so I don't don't end up picking a whole week of chicken meals. And I printed and laminated it. I pick meals from the list for a week, and cross them off as we go (so we don't end up having taco soup every Sunday). We now shop once a week, based on our meal plan. That helps us to eat more fresh stuff, too. We eat a wide variety of food styles: latin (especially since my hubby served his mission in Argentina), Italian, Japanese...and other Asian foods, good ole American food, etc.
I don't plan. I randomly cycle through my usual recipes. Thursday is spaghetti or taco night, since I teach piano from 5-6 and those meals are easy enough for Superman to do. Whichever we don't do piano night, we do on Saturday since I doesn't generally feel like cooking that day. Or we'll get papa murphy's. I think they only planning that goes into my meals is to alternate between chicken and beef.
I am in a dinner club, and I LOVE it. I only have to cook on Tuesday during the week and I make simple meals I know our family likes on the weekend, or we have frozen pizza. It is a lot of work on the day it's my turn to make for 4 families...but so worth it to have dinner brought to us 3 nights out of the week. We get to eat a variety of meals and try new things. Plus food is usually a good bargain when you're buying bulk and when I'm cooking for 4 families I buy BULK!
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