We already meal plan a little (Saturday "date" nights we make pizza together!) but could benefit from a little more planning. We talked about doing more prep on the weekends by making sure we have beans cooking and bread in the breadmaker to help make the week ahead go more smoothly.
2. List Your Family's Likes & Dislikes
We like about everything, fortunately, but what we both don't like is too much repetition. So although we want to make meals with leftovers, we don't want to eat them more than about two nights in a row. This helps us know we should consider freezing them for another night, or just space it out a little. For example, if I make something on Monday we can eat it Monday and Tuesday, but then Wednesday we should cook something else. We can then finish the Monday leftovers on Thursday (or Friday) without getting too tired of any one thing.
3. Create a back-up plan(s)
Our back-up plan is an pasta with a jar of pesto and some sauteed veggies. We always keep this stuff on hand, but don't want it as part of our regular meal rotation.
4. Create a cooking schedule (days only)
Since we don't have kids, we have more time than many families and don't mind what nights we cook. But, we do try to space out our cooking so it's not an every-night thing. If we make salmon one night (no leftovers), we try to have leftovers from a meal earlier in the week to eat the next night. Basically we try to use leftovers to avoid cooking every night but alternate things so we don't get too bored of eating the same things.
Thanks for a good intro to meal planning and for helping me think more clearly about how to make it work for my family!