Welcome back to my series on meal planning, dear readers. No need to have been following along from the beginning, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least point you toward my original meal planning post, if you’re so inclined.
When I ran this post a while back to ask you all what you wanted to know about meal planning, I was struck by CV(D)’s comment. She has some nights, and they tend to vary by season, where she might be cooking for 2 or for 12, and she’s never really sure until those 10 people either show up, or don’t. So what’s one to do to have enough to feed a crowd, but not so much that you have to throw out leftovers that there was just no possible way for them to get through?
I promise, we’ll get back to addressing this predicament, dear readers, but first, two questions: How many people do you need to feed with your meal plan? And do you require lunch (or leftovers)?
How many people?
There may not be one straight answer to this question, a la CV(D), or your answer may be as simple as, I feed myself every night, thankyouverymuch. Either way, it’s important to consider the number of mouths you need to feed.
We feed 2.5 almost every night, save for Sunday, when we try to invite people over.
However going from feeding 2 to 2.5 every night has made a huge shift in my meal planning. Way bigger than I anticipated. I need to buy so much more at the grocery store than I did before. And Gooplet has his own preferences about food, which I do take into consideration when I plan and shop. (Hello, buying out the berry aisle of the grocery store.) If you’re feeling like you had a system that was working, but something is off, think about whether you’re feeding more or fewer people than usual. Are your kids all of a sudden inviting friends to stay for dinner every night? Have they left the nest, whether for school or for sports? Did you add a significant other to the picture? These changing dynamics make a huge impact at the table.*
Do you need lunch or leftovers?
One last point to consider before we get into nitty gritty details. What’s your daily life like? Who is home for lunch and who eats at work, at school, or on the go? For us, I make recipes that might feed 4-6 people because we love having leftovers. My husband will take them to work for lunch on busy days, and I cook so much in the evenings, I’m not looking to prep another meal midday. Leftovers work for us. But if you’re a sandwich-packing household, or a lunch-meeting kind of person, dinners that get eaten up entirely might be right for you.
*For the best take I know on how to make family dinner a priority when soccer schedules attack, check out all that Jenny has to say.