I am really fascinated by how different people plan (or don't plan) their weekly dinners. I was impressed by how Lauren did meal planning by knocking out two months' worth of recipes and lists on Google Docs. My sister also has some crazy Google Docs system where she has revolving lists of recipes and ingredients or something like that. I realize I should know more about it because she has explained the moving parts to me lots of times but man, it just sounds complex. But way to go Alicia! Thumbs up!
I enjoy asking people about their meal planning. Last time I saw my friend Tiffiny, I asked about her family meals and got to hear her method. She has subscribed to Rachel Ray's cooking magazine since it came out and saved one or two recipes per issue. She has all these recipes in a binder that her husband organized into tabs like "chicken" and "beef" and whatnot. I love it and I love even more that her husband made an organized binder for it.
Holly blogs about her meal planning regularly and I love how she even takes pictures of her fridge and the salad production line. I learned about Paleo eating through her and briefly tried eating that way as well as a weekly shopping/recipe system. Turns out that Paleo wasn't for our family but it was fun to give it a try. One thing I will say in Paleo's support is it eliminates many of the major food allergens. Since finding out I am allergic to soy, I've cut it out entirely (as Paleo does) and I have really noticed a difference.
Then there's Erica, my gourmet friend, who is always making these amazing recipes and posting pictures of her successes and that one turd bread thing - which could maybe have been a failure but her daughter (also named Anna) liked it so well, there. I don't know how she finds the inspiration but I love it. Also, she did a CSA box so is basically my hero.
For some reason, having a written or electronic grocery list and recipe plan really doesn't work out for me. I take Anna shopping with me and following a list doesn't always work. Some shopping trips are relaxed and then some are a bit stressful and need to be done more quickly.
The way I get our family fed throughout the week is kind of random. I just pick out things at the store that speak to me. Once I have them home, I think of what combination I might like to eat them in and then I Google that combination of ingredients. It works out pretty well. Last week I found a great recipe for shrimp asparagus fried rice (seriously, make fried rice at home! It's so good!) and today I'm trying this baked chicken yam thing. Of course, since I don't shop ahead of time for the recipes, I usually have to omit ingredients or substitute. I didn't have green onions for the fried rice (would have been nice) and today I don't have chili adobo for the chicken. I used chili powder instead and tinkered with some of the other ingredients. I guess this would drive some people crazy and it clearly wouldn't work for baking. But for me, I get to try different recipes and not have to plan too far ahead.
How do you meal plan?