I usually draw a blank when it comes to planning dinners for the upcoming week and end up cooking the same thing far too often. At work I’m doing research on innovation and was surprised to find that adding constraints while you brainstorm actually makes you more creative.
Cue this good idea from the book Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids: come up with weekly menu categories for your meals. For example:
Monday – Meatless Monday
Tuesday – Mexican
Wednesday – Asian
Thursday – Seafood
Friday – Italian/Pizza
Saturday – Out
Sunday – Grill
This does three things well. First, it allows you to form a list of easy recipes that fit into each category and rotate them. Second, it ensures you get a variety of foods every week. Third (and perhaps best of all), it brings in some consistency. Weekly menu categories become tradition and many times each member of the family starts to anticipate certain nights and looks forward to them. Best of all, you can make up whatever categories you want or force new habits by forming categories around goals (e.g. vegetarian or new recipe nights).
Bon appetit! Meal planning made easier.