Do you Meal Plan? Roll with the Flow?
Or do you Fly by the Seat of Your Pants?
Early in our marriage we planned weekly meals. Often one of us had to work late, we had the same thing for lunch, or we just weren't in the mood for spaghetti. These issues doubled as our family grew. Eventually the pantry became stocked on it's own and the meals developed from its contents.
Unless there is a special request that requires a trip to the grocer we prepare meals from what's available at home. If we aren't recycling leftover roasted chicken into chicken salad, enchiladas, a casserole, soup or something else, we're raiding the pantry and freezer for ideas. It's a rare occasion that my entire family is together for a meal these days with work and class and social schedules. When we do "plan" it's usually for a special occasion. Otherwise I throw a meal together with what's on hand. Often it's just me and the hubs, exhausted from a day's work, joining in the Man Cave for cheese and crackers, maybe some sausage on the grill. And if we want a salad I'll go pick one from the garden, rinse it at the water hose and sit down and eat it with our cheese! Simple is good!
Larger meals are thrown together from the pantry, freezer or garden. Each are well stocked seasonally. It's good to have gardening, hunting and fishing skills! Trekking through the madness at the grocery store every few days or even once a week is nothing I enjoy. We purchase in bulk when possible and take advantage of seasonal sales. We preserve (canning, freezing, dehydrating, vacuum sealing) because we hate to see food spoil. We make 80% of our bread so we purchase bread flour and all purpose flour in bulk 25# at a time and use food grade buckets with a screw on lid for easy access. You see ... when a recipe calls for ten cups of flour, the kitchen canister would empty every time bread is made! We also use a lot of tomatoes in recipes so (since I'm not gonna run out to the grocery store as often) we buy canned tomatoes by the case. They don't stay around long! Of course, when fresh garden tomatoes are available they trump the canned! What else do we buy in bulk? Rice, paper products, pet food toiletries. Lots of things! These items are used daily. Prob the only thing I go to the market for are fresh fruits and veggies when I'm juicing (unless it's in the garden!).
For awhile I would run out for milk, eggs or other dairy. Since we changed our diet and include more organic dairy products we buy more than one because they keep longer. Horizons Organic Milk keeps fresh for 4-5 weeks! Eggs will keep on the counter (or fridge) for weeks. Extra butter and cheese go into the freezer if it nears the "use by" date before we use it. But that doesn't happen often! We don't worry about stocking up for our annual hurricane season. We're already stocked. Ready to prepare a meal for my family, a sick friend, a pot-luck or a picnic!
Frugally Sustainable has a great blog post about meal planning and keeping a stocked pantry. Check it out!!