I know some people have a routine or rhythm when it comes to meal planning. Like Mexican Monday, Soup Saturday, etc...
If you have one will you share? I'm considering doing this for a couple of months (as I get bigger and then have a baby!)
Our routine is based more on schedule than cuisine. For example:
Monday DH goes to the farmer's market on his lunch break and brings the produce home after work, which means that I won't have anything to work with prep wise until he gets home at dinnertime. So Monday needs to be either fast prep work, not need any fresh produce, or must be able to use produce that is a week old (like potatoes and onions)
Tuesday we have all that fresh produce, and a lot of it so it is often a Salad night (topped with whatever protein is appealing- bean, chicken, boiled egg, etc.) or Mexican because we usually have fresh guacamole with our Mexican and the avocados don't seem to keep well for me.
Wednesday- Fish night. I am trying to get DH to like fish so I keep preparing it a different way every other week. If we aren't having fish it is Veggie Night. Lots of Rice and Beans, Veggie Soups, etc.
Thursday- Changes often based on what proteins have been scheduled the rest of the week. I don't like to eat the same meat too often in a week, and like to try to have non-meat proteins be the focus as often as I can creatively think of ways to implement them. If we have already had a lot of beans, I'll pick a chicken dish, if we've also eaten a lot of chicken then this becomes beef. I think that Thursdays are usually the day I plan last since they are most often more flexible than other days.
Friday- bulk night. I have my four brother's over for game night every Friday so whatever we make has to feed a lot of people without becoming to costly (they eat a LOT). We do pastas in many variations (red sauce, vodka sauce, cream sauce, lasagne, with meat, without meat, etc.) soups (Chicken Noodle, Vegetable, Beef and Barley) Chili, or homemade Pizzas.
Saturday- by Saturday we are usually starting to fill up the fridge with random bits and pieces of leftovers so we usually end up cleaning all that out by making a meal of it. I plan on not having any because I don't want to be left up the creek without a paddle. Saturday is my labor intensive day since DH gets home early. This is the day I'd make something like General Tso's Chicken,
Sunday we plan on sandwiches. It is my DH's only day off and I don't want to spend it in the kitchen. I'd much rather be doing something as a family. We often eat dinner at my Mom's on Sunday's anyway, but I like to have a plan in case we don't.
All this is in theory of course. When I sit down to plan out the month I think of the things that I have recently been craving (or been told DH would like to eat) and stick them according to where in the schedule they seem like they would be easiest to prepare. After that I use the above guidelines to seek out recipes more specific to the categories. It is rather haphazard I suppose, but it works best to for me to consider whether or not I will have the time or ingredients to make something before I jot it into any old spot. If we are supposed to make Mexican Monday's dish, but I won't have the ingredients for it until 6:30, then that won't work for me. This way works much better in that regard.
Sort of. I did have a routine for awhile but have had to switch it up a bit because of our schedule.
Monday: dinner at my mom's
Tuesday: something with beef
Wednesday: something with chicken
Thursday: leftovers or something I could throw together
Now the only things we stick with are Monday and Friday. We do breakfast on Tuesdays since dh isn't home and the kids love to eat waffles, pancakes, french toast, stuff he won't be satisfied with.
I only have a routine like that on the weekends.
Fri--"kid food". Something like pizza, sloppy joes, hamburgers, grilled cheese, etc. Easy and fun.
Sat lunch-quesadillas, leftovers, or we go out
Sat supper--take out or an all encompassing category called "party food". Anything from seafood to nachos to wings to steaks. It's our at-home date night, so it's our best meal of the week.
Sun lunch--in winter, soup (summer--main dish salad). This is easy to have in the crockpot, requires no prep at lunch time (in the rush to get the meal on the table), and provides leftovers for the week of lunches. Win/win
Sun supper--breakfast. It's my easiest, no think meal, and by Sun night, I am tired. So there you go. LOL
Mon-Thurs are a huge range. But, usually one "grandma"/comfort food, one bean heavy meal, 1 each of chicken/pork/beef, and at least one Mexican meal.
In the fall and winter I have a soup routine. On saturday I buy my bones. Then sunday I boil them all day to make broth. Lots and lots of broth, enough for the whole week, which I store in the fridge. Then throughout the week I cook more veggies and meat and add broth to them to have soups and stews. We eat the soups by themselves as a meal, and the stews can go over mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, etc. That is my routine. We eat the same thing alot, but no one really minds.
Monday: broth, beef and lots of carmelized onions ---> french onion soup
Tues: grate beets into left over french onion soup, add more meat, add kefir ---->borscht
Wed: braised cabbage, carrots, and sausage
Th: add broth to Wed leftovers ----> cabbage soup
Fri: add tomato paste, wine, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes or whatever veggs and make a stew
Sat: eat stew again/eat brunch at the market
Sun: scrounge day, eat whatever
shopping list: cabbage, onions, carrots, beef, bones, tomato paste, wine, sweet potatoes, eggs, bacon, rice & 2 kinds of fruits, milk for the kefir
We eat the eggs for breakfast, with rice or bacon or by themselves.
Other meals I might make include bolognaise, bigos, oxtail soup, sourdough oxtail dumplings, beef heart stew, lamb stew, chicken soup, lentils, jamaican oxtails, korean oxtails, kimchi chigae, bibimbap, korean dumplings (mandu) with sourdough, sausages and rice, cabbages and noodles, mushroom soup, dill pickle soup, jambalaya. We eat lots of polish, korean food, with occasional cajun, creole or greek food thrown in.
Basically I go through a week and pick out five or six of these dishes and buy the ingredients. They are mostly flexible and use a lot of the same ingredients.