Much has been written about the huge benefits of meal planning (less wasted food! saves money! saves time!, less stress!), but I don't know that I recall ever reading anything about the drawbacks. I will still try to meal plan each week, at least casually, but there are definitely things about it that annoy me:
- Meal planning doesn't always take advantage of what looks best at the store. The best meal plans are created pre-shopping trip, and the shopping list is generated after the plan is written. But.. what if you plan to make steamed artichokes, and the artichokes look gnarly? Or... what if you were going to make meatloaf, but there is a sale on whole chickens from a local farm?
- Meal planning doesn't take whims, cravings and aversions into account. Last night, the plan was to make Jambalaya. Come 4pm, I was totally NOT in the mood for Jambalaya. Nothing could have sounded worse. But... that was the plan, my Wednesday meal couldn't be subbed in (the whole chicken wasn't yet defrosted), and I didn't want to screw up the whole week. So, I made Jambalaya. This was actually fine, and it tasted great, and everyone loved it, but I spent the afternoon annoyed that I was trapped into making Jambalaya.
- Meal planning actually CAN lead to wasted food. What if something comes up? You defrost a whole chicken, and then you fall down the steps of the school bus at the end of your son's kindergarten field trip to Little India (why yes, this did just happen to me two hours ago). My chicken is defrosted and needs to go in the oven, but I'm laying prone on an ice pack feeling sorry for myself. What is a woman to do?
So... meal planning. Love it? Hate it?