For several years I have planned and/or made note of our weekday dinners. It started with the dinner project in 2010. I simply wrote down what we had for dinner every day and shared the meals here on the blog once a week. And then I made this Blurb book. In January 2012 I started the What's for dinner project, which I have continued in 2013. Most likely I will keep it up in 2014 also. What can I say? I love food, I love cooking and I love dinner - also, I love being organized.
I already shared my pantry essentials; so now I thought I would share some thoughts on how we (well, mostly I) do dinner planning and grocery shopping.
Both Sølve and I love food and cooking, hence it is something we really prioritize in our everyday life - both when it comes to time and money. This means that I find joy in planning our dinners every week plus we don't really have a specific budget for food (and wine). We normally buy whatever we want and we eat well. This does not mean that we have lobster and Champagne every day though. A good discount on for example chicken filets, tomatoes or mixed lettuce, might be the starting point of a dinner. Also, we try hard to eat all the food that we buy and make; we (especially me) are big fans of leftovers. I think as long as you don't waste your food, you don't loose the money you spent on it. If you understand what I mean.
Normally I cook our weekday dinners and Sølve cooks Saturday and Sunday dinners. Sølve normally does the weekend shopping Saturday morning at a well assorted supermarket. He never writes a shopping list and has a habit of buying too much of everything, so during weekends our fridge is pretty full. Come Monday, I check to see what is left to use for our weekday dinners. I'm a lot more organized than Sølve, so if I plan our dinners well, the fridge is rather empty again by the next weekend and we can start the weekend with a clean slate (or plate...).
Our local grocery store (with a pretty basic assortment) is just 1 minute away by foot, so if we need any basics during the week, it is no stress to walk over there and get it. Also, Sara's barnehage/kindergarten is next door to the grocery store, so it is really very convenient. If our set up was not that convenient, I'm sure I would try to do all grocery shopping for the whole week in one go.
By the way, I always write shopping lists, on my iPhone. No app, just a basic note. If I notice we are out of something, I'll make a note of it right away.
I usually plan the weekday dinners by myself; weekend dinners are usually planned by Sølve and revised/accepted by me. As mentioned, I start planning our weekday dinners by looking in the fridge to see what fresh produce is there to use. I base the dinners on what produce need to be used first. Lettuce, for example, tend to go bad rather quickly. Hence I plan to use the lettuce early in the week and save for example the onion and root vegetables for later. I also check the freezer and cupboards to see if there is anything there to go with the fresh produce. I find that when I plan our dinners ahead, it is easier to eat well, varied and (rather) healthy.
I normally don't use recipes when planning and cooking our weekday dinners; they are mostly just variations of things I have made before. The what's for dinner and the dinner project archives are helpful reminders of what we have made before*. Sometimes I Google inspiration for recipes, especially based on specific ingredients or techniques, for example beet root greens or pulled pork. I do from time to time actually cook from my cookbooks - or at least find inspiration to make something based on a recipe found in a cookbook, food blog or magazine.
Finally, you should read Natalie's genius meal planning 101 post. I love how organized she is!
Feel free to ask questions! Do you plan your dinners? I would love to hear your thoughts! Any tips to share?
* I'm working on a post that I hope will be helpful for both me and you; it will be titled "our easy everyday dinners list".