I've had a few people ask me lately about my food shopping and cooking methods. I think I'm somewhat organized in this regard. But I am by no means hyper-organized. I usually only plan 3-5 meals in a given week. I've found that when I plan more I either shop for way more food than we will actually eat, or I end up having things come up that cause me to put the meals on hold, and then the food goes bad. I do not assign specific days to specific meals, but I do try to keep in mind which days I will be working and which days we may have unusual things going on that could put a kink in our dinner plans.
So what do we do on the days that we don't have a planned meal? Leftovers. And we have a handful of go-to food ideas. Some of them are incredibly simple like deluxe grilled cheese sandwiches or bean burritos (with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, sour cream and green salsa). Some are a little more involved like red lentil curry or kidney bean curry. We eat a fair amount of pasta, too. As you may notice, most of our go-to foods are vegetarian meals and do not require a lot of fresh ingredients. That means that I generally have all the supplies I need for that meal on hand, without even having to add things to my grocery list. (Most of the items require onions, cilantro or both. These are staples in my household, so yes, they are almost always on hand.) We just celebrated the Chinese New Year with a bunch of neighbors, so we happen to have hundreds of frozen dumplings on hand right now as well. The dumplings will be added to the list of go-to meals until we run out of them.
When I plan my meals each week, I try not to put a whole week of new recipes. Usually I limit myself to only one or two new recipes. That way if the recipe is a dud, at least we know something that week will be really good.
I'll be writing a few more posts about organizing my pantry (Take that 2012!), making my grocery list, and planning crock pot meals.