Meal planning is pretty easy and quick once you get the hang of it, it takes the stress out of figuring out what you want for dinner every night. I meal plan for a week at a time, but you could do it for 2 weeks if you prefer. I like to go every week to get my fresh produce from Kingsland farmer's market. We have been going to the market almost weekly since it has opened. It is really nice to see the same vendors every week and to get a sense of where your food is coming from (The majority of them offer to let you visit the farms) Even they stands that buy the food directly from the farmers and sell it can tell you where it is coming from. I can trust them and they often give me awesome deals. It is really interesting to see how the market has changed since it has been opened, some vendors have left, others have opened. Stalls have moved around and grown or shrunk. The one thing that has stayed the same is the feeling of the market, it is cozy and always smells great, the produce is fresh and often organic or pesticide free. If you are local to Calgary I encourage you to go to Kingslands market.
Now back to the topic at hand, meal planning. Like I said I meal plan one week at a time. We almost never eat what I plan for that night, I never seem to want what I have planned. We will eat the planned meals on different days. I have a guideline for what to make on certain days, this is for ease of planning. It has been tailored to our eating habits and life situation. I encourage you to make a guideline like ours for your family, it makes life so much easier. Here is ours:
Monday is a crockpot meal (I do laundry and clean the house on Mondays, so I need something that I don't have to spend much time on)
Tuesday is a vegan meal (We do vegan because we don't eat eggs or dairy anyways)
Wednesday is beef
Thursday is leftovers (My husband has a class, so we have to eat early)
Friday is Pork or chicken
Saturday is what I call a flex day, really it just means we have whatever I feel like making, if anything. In times of plenty it can mean eating out. In nice weather my husband barbecues.
Sunday we rotate between family dinners at my parents or here, so it will vary.
Something I also do is keep a list of meals we enjoy and take a look through those, the list is always changing. As I add more to the blog I will use this as a list to choose from. Orion and Clay really don't mind eating the same things often. I myself can not stand it, I need variety! So I take the list and apply what I want to the days, then write a grocery list of things I need to buy, often I will have multiple lists. One for Costco, one for the market, and one for other stores. I keep a very stocked pantry and cold room, I buy the majority of staples in large quantities at a time and store them. We buy meat every few months from a butcher in large enough quantities to get a good deal.
That is pretty much it, If I don't feel like making what I have planned, I don't but I do make sure to use the ingredients I have on hand.
I will start posting my meal plans for the week to give an idea of the things we eat. Eventually I will start calculating out how much each meal costs.
Happy meal planning!