Tell Us! How Do You Decide What To Have For Dinner?

As we stared into the fridge the other night, begging the contents of its shelves and drawers to resolve themselves into dinner, we started wondering how many other people were doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. Do you cook spontaneously or plan ahead? How do you decide what's for dinner?

Over the weekend (or in the five minutes before we leave for the grocery store), I usually choose two or three recipes that look yummy and buy all the ingredients needed. The idea is that I'll make the recipes at some point in the following week and have leftovers on the in-between days.

In reality, this works out maybe 75% of the time. Choosing what to make on any given night ends up being a combination of what ingredients are in the kitchen, what my husband and I are in the mood for, and perhaps most of all, our energy level. That chicken enchilada recipe that looked tempting on Sunday and that we planned to make on Tuesday can end up feeling like far too much effort after a bad day at work.

We try to be flexible and not get to hard on ourselves if we don't make exactly what we planned. All the ingredients we buy eventually get used, even if not for their original purpose.

We've also started keeping a list on our fridge of "Stuff We Like to Eat" and keeping track of recipes we've made and loved by keeping them in a special folder in our online reader. These come in handy when we're not feeling so enthusiastic about our new recipe.

What about you?

Related: Meal Planning 101: What Are Your Building Blocks?

(Image: Flickr member Ed Yourdon licensed under Creative Commons)