This is why I plan
Two weeks ago, I had a pretty busy Saturday planned, and I knew I would not have the time to do much menu planning.
The solution? I asked my sweet husband to go back through and pick out a menu he'd like to have again.
The restult? We repeated the menu from July 26th to August 8th. It took just a few minutes to throw together the grocery list, and the planning was done.
Now it's two weeks later, and I again have time for planning, so I'll add to the list of menus.
My Long-Term Goal
The whole idea here is to compile lots and lots of menus, so that one day I won't have to spend an hour planning two weeks of meals ever again. I'll just use existing plans, probably with minor variations.
What I am (very) slowly working toward is having menus whose individual recipes work well together.
Many recipes call for an ingredient that you then have to figure out what to do with the rest of. These ingredients fall into to categories: (1) those that can be saved for another day with minimal effort and (2) those you have to use or they will go bad.
(1) Those that can be saved
A recipe calls for just a bit of ricotta cheese ... you don't have to use the rest of it in this two-week menu plan; it will keep in the refrigerator for a while. But you'd better use it pretty soon.
A recipe calls for just a bit of tomato paste ... you can freeze the rest in an ice-cube tray (about 2 TB fits in a cube) and use it sometime in the next 6 months - no worries!
(2) Those you have to use
Many produce items cannot be frozen for another day without turning into squish.
Celery - you will need to use the rest of it in the next two weeks. Maybe in the first week have salad with dinner a couple of nights and add celery or have some as a snack. Then in the second week, have a couple recipes that need celery cooked in them. (I don't like it in salad after a week b/c it gets rubbery.)
Water chestnuts - when you're making stir-fry for just two people, a whole can is too much. The other half of a can will get funky in not too much time - you really have to use the other half in the next couple of weeks. Be sure to plan one stir-fry meal per week two weeks in a row!
So, I would like to develop menus that don't leave items like this left over, leaving you (and me!) to stress over what to do with the rest of them.
Leave your problem items in the comments - or recipes you've found that work well together, using up all of a problem item.