It's Monday, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to share a bit about my current meal-planning strategy. Life around here is getting busier and busier, but I've stepped up my game! Changing the way I look at meal planning has helped me a lot in successfully getting dinner on the table most nights.
I think the biggest change I've made recently is to really consider my schedule very carefully when making the meal plan, and give a lot of thought to preparation times when selecting meals.
As an example, I have two days per week when I am in class most of the day, then driving around picking up kids in the afternoon. There is not a lot of time for making anything elaborate, so I plan for a couple of simple meals that won't take a lot of time to prepare and cook. One evening per week my husband works late, so I generally make a meat-based dish for me and the kids and we eat at a normal dinner hour, and I'll plan a vegetarian option for the husband to have when he gets home that night.
Another change I've made over the past couple of years is to lose my perfectionism and realize that it's okay to buy things like prewashed salad greens, cubed butternut squash, a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables, etc. Yes, buying a tub of prewashed greens may be a bit more expensive than buying whole lettuce and tearing and washing it myself--but it's still a whole lot cheaper and healthier than eating out. Being honest with myself means acknowledging that I'm in a season of life where it's hard to do it all from scratch all the time, and accepting those shortcuts that don't compromise health, quality or values too much.
The other big change is that although I am making a plan, I'm building more flexibility into the plan. Sometimes I swap days around a bit, sometimes I do a little something extra if I have the time and energy, and sometimes I postpone a planned meal in favor of something from the freezer or eggs and toast. Keeping that flexibility and having a Plan B means that even if "stuff happens" I can adjust accordingly and still get a meal on.
So that's what is working for me these days in answering the age-old question of "What's for dinner?" I'd love to hear what meal-planning strategies work for you!