I've tried to for years. But only in the past few weeks have I actually done it. Do you plan your meals out for the week in advance? Do you plan a few days in advance? The night before?
In the past my usual routine (or Hubby's routine) is to figure out that morning - or typically, in the afternoon, what we feel like for dinner and then one of us makes a dash to the grocery store. And that one store stop, usually turns into two (like Trader Joe's then Whole Foods or Fresh Market then Food Lion). Needless to say late dinners weren't unusual in our house.
So in an effort to not eat so late, and stop the zillion trips a week to various grocery stores, I'm trying to plan out our menu for the week, the weekend before. The past few weeks this has worked pretty well. We're flexible, because it isn't uncommon for us to suddenly decide we want to try out a new restaurant or to have a craving for something at one of our favorite spots or to grab drinks and appetizers with some friends on a whim (then not needing a full meal).
I also am not planning for Saturday or Sunday. We tend to either be out of town or eat out most of our meals on these days.
But having a pre-determined menu and a pantry full of the ingredients we need to make our dinners that week, is a very refreshing thing - not to mention the planning removes stress as well.
So this is what this week's menu looks like for us (and yes, I realize it looks like a culinary adventure around the world, but it just happened like that):
Monday: Southwestern Chicken & White Bean Soup
Tuesday: Sichuan Beef in Chili Sauce
Wednesday: Moroccan Stewed Chicken with CousCous
Thursday: Whole Wheat Fettucine with Venison Sauce
Friday: Mama Chang's Stir-Fried Shrimp & Scallions