Weekly Meal Planning - June, July & August 2019

On bad days, 5:00 p.m. rolls around and panic strikes the heart: oh, no - what’s for dinner?! Either something is cobbled together from fridge and pantry, snacks are inhaled over the sink, or takeout saves the night. It happens.

But then there are days when all the pieces just fall into place. When careful planning is brought to fruition with exciting, balanced, varied menus and plenty of leftovers for future meals. Who wouldn’t like more of that?

This discussion is for the planners and aspiring planners among us. What dinners do you have on tap this week? If you have recipe links, feel free to share them. And because life rarely follows a script, how your good intentions work themselves out in reality can be reported in the “What’s for Dinner” thread.

So, what meals do you have in mind? Post a whole week or as many meals as you have figured out.


Here’s my plan for the next few days. Pretty pedestrian fare but should get the job done.


Am staring at the screen in awe. I have never planned weekly meals other than trying to shop a balanced market basket. For more decades than many of you have been alive, I’ve enjoyed the daily rush of deciding something for dinner. Maybe when I grow up…


Yeah, I never got to that point of planning ahead more than 1 - 2 days.

My plan for the week is:…" boy, I gotta use up that defrosted pork in the fridge tonight" and then rest of the week is :scream:

I generally let the weekend grocery trip determine some of what I plan to make in the week, but what I actually make is a formula of “how late I get home from work” + “how much sleep I had the night before” / “what’s defrosted or has to be eaten” = weekday dinner.


This has the potential to develop into a fun thread.

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My motivation is multi-fold…

  1. I hate waste - I can plan dishes with shared ingredients, so half a bunch of cilantro/pepper/leftovers don’t go bad. It also helps me sequence properly, so I don’t cook the frozen chicken while the raw salmon and fresh veg in the fridge spoil.

  2. I hate multiple grocery store trips for missing ingredients. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

  3. We’re less likely to eat out if we have all the ingredients for meals and recipes/concepts at the ready.

  4. At the end of a long day with the toddler, sometimes I just can’t bear to figure out what’s for dinner. It’s helpful to have at least at loose plan to draw from.


I have been chewing and chewing this thread. Advance planning makes so much sense and does impose a certain kitchen efficiency. But it just isn’t the way I cook. I never start with a recipe and then source or locate the ingredients but rather check out our ingredients and see how they can be put together for a dish or a meal. If I do get an idea for a specific dish and am missing an ingredient, that ingredient gets swapped out for something we have.

We eat some kind of weird things occasionally. Or to be truthful, frequently.


Back in the 1980s & early 1990s my DWs menu planning was exhaustive because seven of us sat down to dinner every night of the week.

But then the kids “extra curriculars” smacked us squarely in the face: Dance, Sports, Civic Theater, Music Lessons; and we became denizens of Taco Bell. Really. Taco Bell. At least three times a week. Sometimes M-F for weeks on end.

Now, we’re back to being (nearly) empty nesters, and we shop with somewhat of a plan in mind. Haven’t yet recaptured the ability to shop a week at a time, but currently, we’re buying more produce, fresh vegetables and proteins than we have in years. Our freezer is our salvation. But one of us has to think: “What’s for dinner, tomorrow?”


I thought of you tonight as I blitzed Cheez-Its crackers into bread crumbs for our turkey meatloaf. Sometimes you just have to make do.


Sometimes these needs-must substitutions result in amazingly good, even better, plates. You go, girl!

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I’m relatively new to menu planning, but it provides a helpful framework. I stare at the fridge less. I waste less than I used to. I eat healthier at home, even if it’s a splurge meal. I vary my meals more in every way. And I order in very rarely. I do eat out - “a lot” by non-nyc standards, “moderately” by nyc standards - or “minimally” if you add up actually eating out and takeout (it’s often cheaper to takeout than cook in here).

There was no explicit menu planning when I was growing up. Mental planning (mostly by mom, with requests and suggestions - okay, sometimes whiny complaints - by dad and kids) to vary the types of dishes we ate over the course of a week or two, for overall eating diversity.

Once I got into planning, I’d suggest it to mom - now older, with fewer people to cook for, but stronger opinions and favorites/dislikes to deal with (including her own, which creates an interesting conflict as she is the primary preparer of meals now :joy:). She routinely rejects the notion as “too much brain damage”.

But when I ask her about food when she was a child growing up in a joint family, it becomes clear that weekly planning was very much part of my great grandparents’ households. Specific types of dishes were cooked on specific days over the course of a week - to vary ingredients, nutrients, and - importantly, for the era - kitchen workload. I find this fascinating as I attempt to do the same for myself today.


That is very interesting, for sure. My mom saved roasts and labor-intensive “fancy” meals for Sundays.

I am in awe of your great grandparents. I feel they overlap mine or even closer generations, and I don’t think that kind of organization ever took place. We always ate varied and on budget, but I don’t remember planned-overs or successive meals. You were brought up well!

From what I understand, some of it might have been implicit rather than explicit. Probably critical with large extended families to feed. And duties to be divided. Dried provisions were filled for the year. Spices and oils as well.

I envy that era and culture. I as well as my parents grew up on the Central California coast where as the song goes, “livin’ was easy”. Yes, some commodities were bought with long term use in mind, but so much was seasonal, backyard, and close to hand-to-mouth. So much cultural richness lost.

Yes, that was true for anything fresh - vegetables, fish, meat.

Storage was for grains and legumes (after harvest - then they were milled locally), spices (which were produced fresh only once a year back then - even now, my mom’s spice store “runs out” of things - until the new stock is ready), oil (ditto - pressing season).

I think long-range planning declined as families became increasingly nuclear and space tighter.

It’s like the Costco/nyc apartment issue - less people, less provisions needed, less space to store things, less price sensitivity, etc.

A rich heritage. Sad to lose it with nuclear families and urbanization.

Some good, some bad. Wasn’t always the best for the women in the household. Much better now. Lose something, gain something, I guess.


Rough weekly outline - using up leftovers from last week, then trying to get back on a mostly low carb track for a bit:

Mon - Leftovers: Carnitas and black beans on a giant paratha, coated with egg (anda paratha/baida roti hybrid).

Tues - Leftovers again (sorta-healthy mashup): Palak paneer over canned chickpeas in lieu of a straight carb.

Wed - Shrimp, avocado, and butter lettuce salad with champagne vinaigrette (jean georges).

Thurs - Probably out, otherwise Chicken tinga (freezer) in butter lettuce cups with fennel slaw.

Fri - Redo of Chicken Musakhan but my usual way (instead of last time’s bastardization), accompanied by romaine/tomato/fennel/red onion fattoush.

Sat - Probably out

Sun - TBD: Maybe whole steamed fish with some greens (possibly from a Chinatown trip…)

Happy planning and eating!


This sounds great. Flavors right in our wheel house. Did I find the right recipe? What do you use for truffle juice, or do you use a different recipe?

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
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