One thing that we do not do well in our house is cook meals. Before our baby arrived, too often, we'd wait until the last minute to decide what to eat. Then, we wouldn't want to cook or it would take too long to make, so we'd go out. It's been my goal for a long time to eat out less. We've tried to plan meals before, but it becomes a huge ordeal to actually choose what to make.
Well, the other day I had the most ingenious idea I've had in a long time. Why not let something else pick the meals for me???
I'm a researcher, so I use http://www.random.org/ pretty often to generate random number lists. Why not let it choose meals for me? This is what I did, I made a numbered list of all the dinners that we eat, plus numbers for "new recipe", "eat out", and some generic choices like, "frozen meal" and "chicken whatever". I decided to make a meal plan (sort of like a school cafeteria menu) for one month. Because I assume that we'd eat leftovers at least once per week, I generated 21 integers between the numbers of 1 and 38 (the number of items on my list) and had it formatted in 4 columns. So, not only did it choose the meals, it also picked which week we would eat them. Then I put the meals into a calendar, printed it, and hung it on the refrigerator. Doing this made it a lot easier to write my shopping list and helps me remember to take things out of the freezer. All in all, the system hasn't been perfect, but it's a big improvement over our previous "no plan" system. We have made last minute rearrangements, but I think that it's helping us eat healthier AND save money.