Coming up with meal plans in advance has made me much more organized. I used to run to the grocery store at least once during the week after work because I was missing one key ingredient — I rarely have to do that anymore. Here’s my strategy:
I usually make dinner at least 3-4 times a week. On the days I don’t cook, we eat leftovers from the previous night, go out to a restaurant, or fend for ourselves.
I keep all of my recipes (the ones I’ve already tried and those I want to make in the future) in a single Word document. This is my preferred method because I can quickly search for any term I’m looking for — I can also search for a single ingredient if there’s something I have in mind or anything in particular I’m trying to get rid of.
I typically sit down with my recipe ideas on Saturday morning, decide what I want to prepare, and make a list of the ingredients I’ll need for dinner the following week. The trip to the grocery store happens on either Saturday or Sunday.
Once I decide which recipes I want to make, I plug the information into Google Calendar. I use this calendar to keep track of all my appointments and upcoming events, including dinner. The days I make dinner on a given week depends on what Paul and I have planned after work.
Since we eat a lot of brown rice with our meals, I often cook a large amount at once and store it in the fridge. I use it for both lunches and dinners.
I recently upgraded to a larger CrockPot, so I’ve been using that cooking method a lot more often. I like being able to prep the ingredients in advance and put everything together in the morning before I leave for work, rather than doing a bunch of food prep right after I return home in the evening.
As for our household division of labor, I do the cooking (and the food/ingredient research, because I love it) and my boyfriend does the cleaning. I clean dishes and surfaces as I go, but it’s nice not having to worry about washing the heavy CrockPot insert or loading the dirty plates in the dishwasher after we eat. I get home from work earlier than he does, so this arrangement works well.