We don't have fancy calendars and lists to plot out meals for the month. We don't shop at CostCo or Sam's Club for crates of food. We don't bulk cook meals on a weekend to divide out along the week. That's just never been us.
No, we are the family that cooks large amounts of food for one reason: potential visitors. Then, if those visitors don't appear, it all gets crammed into plastic containers and crammed into the fridge for leftovers (usually with some choice rearranging of the previous left overs already taking up space in the fridge). If meal planning occurs, it is when we know visitors are coming in advance. That's when my mom will bust out a chart to figure out what meals will be easiest to make for the masses.
Such is the case for this coming week as my sister and her two daughters drive up from Florida to stay with her and my dad for about a week. This past Saturday, I was called in to help with the meal preparation when I found out my mom had decided to return to her Italian roots and make lasagna from scratch. Well, semi-scratch, but it was definitely NOT coming from one of those pre-made-shove-it-in-the-oven kits.
Instead, she had located the recipe passed down to her from my grandmother -- all three versions of it. And, while my mom is a planner, she isn't always a recipe follower. It wasn't so much as she ignored the recipe as she tweaked it to suit her desires and her own knowledge of cooking. The constant refrain was: "I'm not sure if this will work. But we'll try it out."
When I got there, she wasn't even sure how much it would make, admitting that she may have to send me out for more supplies. Luckily, it didn't come to that. She had at least three boxes of lasagna pasta noodles, several pounds of cheese (slices of provolone, shredded Italian mix, and ricotta), ground beef AND Italian sausage, herbs and spices, and enough tomato sauce to drown in.
I helped her, but mostly I was there to talk. We chatted about the upcoming visit, our future travel plans, my writing, and her attempts to reorganize the upstairs. It was our way of catching up, all over a bubbling, baking batch of lasagna. And, despite her fears, we ended up with three full pans of lasagna: one for now and two for later.
There's no sense in meal planning in my family. We cook enough for a drop-in visit any time and, if no visitors appear, then you have your meal for the next few days!