Hello! Welcome to Beyond Soy!
When Ashley and I started our elimination diet, we planned all our meals for the whole diet in advance. We wanted to ensure that we could make allergen-free meals and identify what we could have for snacks during the diet. We tried to avoid making food choices while we were hungry to ensure that we always chose soy-free food, not just the food that was most convenient.
Even though we've finished the diet, we continue to plan our meals each week (week-by-week). It helps us make sure that we get everything we need at the grocery store, and generally makes it easier to eat consistently soy-free.
Here is how we do it: On Friday or Saturday we sit down and list the meals we’d like to have during the next week. Then we look at our calendars and choose practical dinners based on our schedules (for example, something quick on a night when we don't have much time for dinner, or something more elaborate for an at-home date night).
It also allows us to plan ahead a little bit. If we think of something we want to make in a couple weeks, we just throw it on the calendar and we'll see it when we schedule that week's meals. Once the week's meals have been planned, we make our grocery list and shop accordingly.
The key for meal planning to be successful is being flexible during the week to move meals, but rigid enough that you keep to the schedule on most days. If something comes up that conflicts with our planned meal (say we get a last minute invite for dinner with friends), we shuffle meals around or just skip the one we missed. Scheduling one week at a time allows for some flexibility so that we don't feel tied down to the schedule, but we are still able to use the groceries we buy before they go bad.
It was difficult at first to get the in rhythm of planning meals for the entire week but, it has been a huge help and a huge de-stresser for eating soy-free. At this point it is just a part of our weekly routine and we don't think twice about it.