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LJWorld.com weblogs Eat Your Vegetables

Meal planning for dummies (or just those who forget how to because of CSA season)

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I’m officially in CSA withdrawal.

For half the year, I get fresh vegetables every Monday whether I want them or not.

Pretty much all the time I want those bags of surprise vegetables, but when the little “planner” piece of me rears its ugly head and wants to know what’ll be in the fridge each week, I do sometimes wish I had a little more control for half the year.

With my CSA, Rolling Prairie, I only have a general idea of what we’re getting each week, usually loosely based on what I saw at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market the weekend before and sometimes through an email sent out each collection day. Not exactly helpful in meal planning.

And it’s so easy to get used to NOT meal planning. So much so that when I have full control over 100 percent of the food that I buy in a given week, I have no idea what I’m doing and I miss going to the store four times a week to pick up odds and ends for whatever I decide to make.

Now, with the CSA over and Thanksgiving behind us, I’m trying to get in the swing of actual, honest-to-God meal planning again. Something I was craving in July, but is so strange now.

Here’s how I’m easing into it. I’m explaining my process because I know it’ll just get out of whack again in a few weeks with the holidays and I’m sure you’ll feel the same way and want a simple starting point then, too.

My plan: Buy for two meals and only two meals.

Our cooking days, most of the time, are Sunday and Tuesday. So, I pick recipes (like our Butternut Squash and Black Bean Burritos) that I know make enough for leftovers. We make one meal Sunday night, have the leftovers Monday, make another Tuesday night and have the leftovers Wednesday or Thursday, depending on our family schedule for the week. We also usually cook Saturday and Sunday night, too, but that’s a little more fluid and less convenience-based because we don’t necessarily need leftovers, so sometimes we try a new recipe.

It isn’t a perfect system and sometimes ends with all of us staring at each other, trying to decide what to eat or what to order, but, for the most part, this seems to work wonders for us this time of year.

Do you plan your meals? If so, what’s your method?

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