Making meal planning easier

After using some meal plans from about 1900 through 1945 that were actually very realistic about how long it can take to make lots of meals and snacks every day so had a variety of easy meals and leftovers, I realized how easy it could be to have varied meals -- I didn't have to start from scratch at every meal, even if I (as I do) were avoiding almost every premade item in the grocery store. Once I settle into a place, like most people I make extra of various foods.

At the same time it's extremely helpful to me to write down what I'm having at pretty much every meal and snack (unless I'm using an already-typed-up plan like in those retro cookbooks). That's where I stumbled the other week -- I felt like I had to fill the little blanks with amazing dishes that truly took hours for at least me to make. (Which was especially silly given that my life has recently become even more crazy-busy.)

Of course there was no need to cook for hours; we all have very high standards for food taste and other quality, but we also appreciate the wonderful taste of pure, basically unadorned vegetables and fruits and such. So, I came up with a chart in MS Word that reminded me not to plan to do more than I really really wanted and could do in a day (you're very welcome to make your own based on this, and yes someday I need to figure out how to offer PDFs, though in this case you probably want to customize to fit your own tastes):

The "moi" kits are an experiment for me. I realized that say I had some interesting Malaysian chicken in the freezer I'd made the month before but nothing that would go with it, because even though I'd gotten some stir-fry-type vegetables to go with it I'd then forgotten about the future menu and used them in something else. So I just got some unbleached, organic cotton drawstring bags in a large size and plan to tuck in food for which I have plans so it's not accidentally used in something else. Depending on where the food is, for a meal like this Malaysian one I'd also tuck in brown rice....I'm planning, if it's in a drawstring bag it means it's a whole meal for our family size that I can just grab and quickly put together on our busiest nights.