This used to be the perpetual query in our house. We both love to cook, but sometimes it's hard to motivate yourself after a long day at work. It usually works out well because when one of us is not in the mood to cook, the other picks up the slack. When I was pregnant, our routine got a little "off". I was always tired in the first trimester. (Sometimes, I would take a nap between work and dinner!) It got to be a contest to see who could call the other one closest to 5pm to ask about dinner ideas. More often than not, it ended in take-out. It wasn't very economical or healthy.
Before Giovanni was born, we spent several weekends preparing and freezing meals for after he was born. They have come in handy and some have been shared with other families with new little ones. But they still require planning to thaw a day or two before baking.
While I was on maternity leave, I started following a few bargain websites for Moms. One of them ran a promo for half-off a six-month subscription to a meal-planning service. $15 for six months of meal plans and associated grocery lists? If it prevented us from bringing home pizza even once, it had paid for itself!
Every Friday, I get an e-mail with five menus for the week and a bonus recipe. It's a reminder to me to pick meals and make the grocery list. I shop once a week and get everything I need. Very few weeknight stops at the grocery store. The recipes are delicious and usually not too time-consuming. (We learned in Week 1 that we couldn't do all five menus in a week. Too many leftovers! I take them for lunch every day, but we still had more food than we needed right now. Now we usually do 3-4 meals a week.) Did I mention the meals taste AWESOME?!
I save the recipes every week. Ones we really like get typed into my recipe card template and printed for the box. I also keep a list now of dinner ideas (sorted by entrees, starch, and veggies). When I eventually stop subscribing, I'll be able to keep putting together amazing meal plans.
Seven months in, I'm still a raving fan. The business model is brilliant...I'm still jealous I didn't think of it! It's called No More To Go. The woman who runs it is named Stacey. She is sweet and helpful. At least three of my friends have also joined. Maybe it's not perfect for everyone, but it has been a lifesaver to help make sure that we eat healthy meals that don't cost an arm and a leg!