What's for Dinner? - How We Do Team Meal Planning

Monday, May 16, 2016

Linking up with Nan (First time! Whoop!) for Making Your Home Sing Monday.

If you haven't caught onto this yet, I'm a serious planner/organizer/list/system person. I like to figure out the ideal way, for me and my family, to get things done. The systems I land on can be a little unusual, and may not work for you, but I think there is value in putting options out there for people who are having trouble coming up with ideas.

So here is the way we have divided up responsibility for meal planning, food prep, and cooking!


Matt Does:
  • Picking up the farm box
  • Perishable goods shopping (this is not a hard and fast rule)
  • Finding recipes (most of the time via Pinterest)
  • Adding to and updating our shared meal plan calendar via Google Calendar
Kirby Does:
  • Food Prep and Cooking (all weeknights, with Matt cooking most Saturdays and Sundays)
  • Creative re-use of leftovers
  • Non-perishable goods shopping (also not a hard and fast rule)
  • Farm box processing (roasting, jams, canning, pickling, etc.)
  • Making of stocks to use up bones and sad, limp veggies.

Matt's Jobs

We currently get a farm box (CSA) through Matt's work, so the box is delivered to the front desk at his company. He just loads it into his bike saddlebags and bikes it home! 
That can be easier said than done when we're getting 2-3 melons a week in the summer and 2 big squashes a week in the winter...

My husband is an amazing grocery shopper. Like he can remember prices, quantities, and sales like nobody's business. He will sometimes bike over to a local, awesome, grocery store by his work that has tons of bulk bins and veggie sales to stock up. 
Grocery shopping is relaxing and fun for him. It is not relaxing and fun for me. We're going to play to our strengths here.

I introduced Matt to the joys of Pinterest a while ago, and it is helpful for quickly finding links to good recipes that are scattered around little blogs. The CSA has good recipes in the weekly newsletter too, so we're sometimes using that for ideas for odd veggies (like celery root).

Example of a meal plan event. This is our plan for this Friday.
He inputs the recipe link into an event on our shared Meal Planning calendar via Google Calendar. It automatically populates into my calendar without dealing with event invites!
He'll also put in any planning notes. Because sometimes I do silly things, like not being able to find the fish in the fridge, forget about the fresh herbs (instead of the dried), or not know that we have fresh lemons to use instead of the stuff in a bottle. Communication is gold!

Kirby's Jobs

I take Matt's meal plan and make it happen! Like a magical live-in fairy.

It typically takes 1.5-2 hours every afternoon to make our normal dinners, so I normally need to start about 3pm - right when the kids are finishing up snack after nap. Thus we have mandated free play outside the kitchen time.

The kids have been ravenous eaters for lunches, so I have been cooking pretty honest-to-goodness hot meals for lunches - most often by re-using leftovers. I specialize in quick soups and pot pies.
Matt normally takes leftovers for lunch, so my midday creations just add to his range of choices.

A big part of my job is preventing food waste. 
I take the farm box within 24 hours of getting it in and:
  • roast some root veggies
  • string herbs up for drying
  • make pesto out of carrot tops
  • pickle hot peppers, radishes, and any overflow of carrots
  • cut up melons
  • make Fennel Onion Jam out of any fennel bulbs

Every 2 weeks or so I gather up any limp roots that didn't get a purpose fast enough and throw them in the crockpot with any saved carrot and potato peels & bones/chicken carcass to make stock!
Having the good stock already made in the fridge makes it that much easier to make my creative lunches.

What about the dishes?

Depending on if I'm making something with a decent cooking time, I can get most of the food prep and cooking dishes washed or loaded in the dishwasher as I go.
Post-dinner I aim to have only serving dishes in need of washing.

After spending a few years with a baby and no dishwasher, it still feels like an amazing luxury to load up a dishwasher with dirty dishes and soap, turn it on, and JUST WALK AWAY. 
It ends up about half and half for doing the final dishwash, but that will vary a lot by what we have going on that week.

So that's how we roll around here. Does this sounds familiar or super-duper different from your house?


  1. This is similar to how it works for us! I do all the shopping (we use Bountiful Baskets instead of the CSA, but that's what's available to us), because I know price history. My husband looks up recipes online. We try to cook a lot over the weekend for lunches and some suppers. My husband handles a lot of the meat. We end up roasting, grilling, or souping most the veggies we get. I cannot bear waste--so we try to use things up quickly, too. Thanks for sharing the method that works best for your family. :)

    1. Nice to hear someone else does something similar!
      I've heard good things about Bountiful Baskets, and will probably look into it if we ever live further away from a CSA site.


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