Sunday, October 14, 2012

What's for Dinner? Menu Planning

For those of you who know me, it's no surprise to you that I admit to being a planning freak.  Seriously, the farther in advance I can plan anything, the better.  It's a little neurotic, but I believe it's been a big part of getting me where I am.  I've extended this sentiment to our daily dinner schedule and gosh darnit, it's been a beautiful thing.

Throughout our crazy days of school, rotations, long hours, etc, I've made it a priority to cook decent dinners for Peter and I.  I learned quickly that if I planned to cook on lighter days, we'd still have nice dinners, just in the form of left-overs, on busier days.  I recently extended this philosophy to planning out a week's worth of dinners the week before.  Too much, you say?  Let me show you why this is brilliant, and will work for your family.

Once a week, usually Thursday or Friday night (how exciting!), I sit down (Peter contributes most of the time) and plan dinners for the coming week.  Simultaneously, I make the grocery list for said items since I grocery shop on the weekends.

It takes a bit of time to plan sometimes, but lets analyze this scientifically.  Without a plan, you go to the grocery store willy-nilly.  Then you spend time each day thinking about what you have and don't have at home, trying to pull something together for dinner.  That fresh produce you bought goes kinda icky for lack of inspiration and you're ordering Chinese because you're tired and don't want to think.  You then spend extra time running to the grocery store a few times a week, picking up things to make whatever you want for the evening, just to be short on supplies the next day.

Alternatively, you spend an hour or so making a plan and a list.  Magically, you're using the produce and other groceries you buy for actual recipes, you have leftovers to serve on busy nights and even to take to lunch, and the week goes off without a hitch.  I think it makes sense.

This has worked beautifully for us, and I hope we (meaning, I) continue doing it.  I'm keeping track of the menus I create so when I'm knee deep in residency or just busy life next year, they will just magically be done for me!  Give it a shot; you may find it annoying, but it just may be the organizational tool you've been looking for :)

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