Hi ladies, I'm looking for some basic meal planning help here. I'm a college student living on campus and graduating in December. I'll be moving back home with my mom when this semester is over and just found out I'll be living at home in the fall too instead of back on campus. I'm looking for a simple way to meal plan relatively easy and healthy meals so we can eat at home most nights instead of going out.
At this point I think we only want to plan dinner, since we're both really simple breakfast eaters (cereal or a smoothie) and I want to keep lunch simple and cheap to take to work over the summer, most likely leftovers or a sandwich. I just have no idea where to get started! I'm way into planning and organizing, and there are so many ways to go about this I can't figure out which would be best. I've been lurking this thread for awhile and have some ideas of how to do it, but how do you know what works best for you?
I like the idea of a weekly or bi-weekly "themed" dinner rotation (pasta night, soup night, etc). But do you come up with the theme schedule then find recipes to fit? If you start with a master list of recipes for your staples, do you have those ingredients memorized, or how do you organize your master list? My mom has never been big on meal planning (or much cooking for that matter) so I'll have to do most of it myself and then figure out how to split the cooking. We both CAN cook but she works long hours and comes home tired a lot (not as bad as it used to be, she would come home at 6, sleep until 9, then we'd go out for dinner when I was in high school). We're fine using some pre-made mixes, like jambalaya mix or cream of whatever soup as a base for another soup, but are trying to get more into cooking from scratch. I'm also trying to learn more about cooking, expand my recipe list, and learn more technique, though I can cook a decent amount of good recipes.
Also, how do you meal plan when you schedule is variable? Mom usually gets home between 5:30 and 6:30, but she sometimes has events or meetings in the evening after work. I'll be working part time at a museum and although I should know my schedule a few weeks out, theoretically I could be working until 3:00 one day and until 8:00 the next.
And if you plan on taking leftover for lunch most days, do you need a "leftovers night" worked into the weekly schedule? We don't have many guests but often cook enough for 3-4 servings, so we have some leftovers.
I just don't know where to start and would appreciate any input. Thanks ladies!