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When do you start planning dinner?

I usually start planning when I get up and out of bed finally. (I'm a late sleeper.) dinner is 7:30 around here so I usually need to defrost something or make a grocery trip. How about y'all?

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  1. Usually the day before because I have to decide what, if anything, to pull from the freezer. I have the whole meal in my mind by the morning of. 90% of the time I stick with my plan. 10% of the time I change my mind or life gets in the way.

    1. It depends...
      I think my cheffing background has quite an influence on my cooking habits: I seem to keep a mental list of what's in/needs using first in the fridge, freezer, pantry and garden, which has a major influence on when I start planning.
      If I have guests, I might have something in mind days earlier, but if I'm cooking for myself I'm usually pretty casual about it.

      1. Well last night, it started when I opened the fridge after work trying to figure out what to have for dinner.

        1. A week a head of time. Seriously :) I start working on my meal plan for the following week (as in the week after the current one) on Mondays. I have it finalized by Wednesday, do my shopping on Friday or Saturday. It works out most of the time, sometimes it'll rain when I plan to grill or I get a last minute invitation to go out or something but otherwise I stick to it pretty well.

          3 Replies
          1. re: juliejulez

            I also plan my meals a week ahead of time. Between my husband and I we only have 1 vehicle and he uses it at work 5 days a week so we have limited time to go to the grocery store. I usually only go once a week, carpooling with a friend. So, I plan meals for a week out and stock up on fresh meat and produce once a week. Our freezer is too small to keep a great stock of meat and such on hand at all times, though I do usually have an extra pork tenderloin or couple of chicken breasts for nights when I wasn't planning dinner.

            1. re: Maggiethecat

              Yeah I just don't like going to the store all the time. I've found when I do, I spend more. I'm also not good at coming up with meals on the fly, so it's easier for me when it's all planned out ahead.

            2. re: juliejulez

              Weekly planning here. We do most of our food shopping early Saturday morning. Make a menu for the week, but try to allow flexibility so a meal can be moved to another day, or cancelled if necessary. We build in enough leftovers for lunches for me during the week.

              We make the menu based on what needs to be used in the fridge or freezer or cupboard, plus what we already have, what's on sale, what big recipe I want to make for the freezer.

              I find we rarely have to throw out and waste food, because we plan the menu around what should be used.

            3. Usually at the farmers market, butcher, fish house, or grocery store when I have seen what's on sale and then it's only a loose plan. A quick stroll around the garden will also give me some ideas as to what is ripe and ready to go. The only time I actually "plan" a dinner is when it's a special dinner and we are entertaining guests.