I like the idea of planning out our meals a week in advance so that I know what I am going to cook and I can be sure to have all of the right ingredients on hand. On the rare occasion that I've done this it has been fantastic. So what exactly is the problem here? I think that part of it is the paralysis caused by my perfectionist tendencies - if I can't do it just right and go all out, I don't do it at all. In the case of meal preparation, I would love to shop at the farmer's market every week to pick up seasonal produce and plan my menus based upon what is available locally. Unfortunately, between the demands and activities schedules of three children and two adults combined with the general lack of planning that goes into my days, I have only found the time ONCE in this entire season to make it to one of the local markets. Then there are the menus themselves, I have so many great cook books that I don't even know where to start when I think about planning meals for an entire week.
So I think that a good place to start is...well, anywhere. Rather than try for perfection, I'm going to commit to one baby step each day. I took a couple today by cooking a big breakfast for the kids (our regular weekend fare of chocolate chip pancakes and cream cheese scrambled eggs) instead of relying on my regular easy "meal" of cereal and by trying to get my recipe notebook in order. I got the idea for a recipe notebook from a friend and, when I use it effectively, it is a great tool in the kitchen. When I get a recipe from someone else or seek out a new recipe online that the family enjoys or when I find something in a magazine that I'd like to try out, I simply categorize it and put it in my notebook. This is where I keep most of our favorite recipes and is my "go to" resource for quick meal ideas. Unfortunately, I haven't kept up with its maintenance and it was overflowing with un-filed recipes to the point that the binder itself broke and random bits of paper fell out every time I pick it up.
So...baby steps for now.
"It is not good enough for things to be planned - they still have to be done; for the intention to become a reality, energy has to be launched into operation.” --Walt Kelly