Here is my version of meal planning: I plan monthly, and choose what we're eating a day or two or three in advance. It allows for whimsy and cravings in a planned menu, and that is key to its success for us.
This is how I do it:
I make a list of the recipes we like so that I don't forget any of them, or have my cookbook nearby.
On a sheet of paper, I make a chart - 7 days by 5 weeks. Each week, two days say "Leftovers." I try to schedule one day with chicken, one with red meat, and one or two meatless meals. The remaining day or two is "planned overs" (leftovers that you have plans for when you make them). I list five weeks instead of four, because some months do look like they're five weeks, and also it gives us a couple extra dinner options. Good for company visits, or if we just don't want something on the menu.
The nice part: Each weekend, get a piece of paper to write down the week's meals on. Look at the menu, and keep in mind the weather forecast. Decide what you want to eat that week, write it on the week's menu, and check it off the monthly menu. Keep in mind that anything more than two days out is flexible.
It might go like this:
"Well, it's warmer this week but Thursday looks chilly and rainy; let's have Winter Bean soup to fight off the chill. Monday we'll have roast chicken. I'll make stock from the bones to use for the bean soup, and freeze the leftover meat. Tuesday we'll have Yellow Rice & Beans, Wednesday will be leftovers. Friday we can have spaghetti or sausage grinders, and then eat those leftovers Saturday. Sunday we'll have pot pie made from the meat & more of the stock we froze from Monday's chicken. "
Monday: Roast Chicken. Shred & Freeze leftover meat; make broth from carcass.
Tuesday: Yellow Rice & Beans
Wednesday: Leftovers - oops, very busy day; ate on the run, froze the leftovers instead...
Thursday: Winter Bean Soup using homemade stock
Friday: Sausage grinders or spaghetti
Sunday: Chicken Pot Pie, made from Monday's planned-overs.
I have had the "eek! food run!" days several times. I'm now convincing the slow-cooker that it needs to cook dinner for us more often.
Portions are guesstimated at 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of meat or starch, or about 8 ounces (1 cup) of anything else. I like to serve the meat with veggies & a starch, or two veggies. Starches could be pasta, grains, rice, stuffing, rolls, garlic bread and so on. During the summer, veggie choices will vary depending on what's at the farmer's market. Portions can have built-in cushions - if you make extra rice, you can add it to soup or stir-fry another night; leftover veggies or meats can be saved for soup or stock; a lunch can be packed up and frozen for another day.
At the beginning of the month, I make sure we have everything on hand to make the meals I've listed. You can do this as often as you get paid; our budget is set up for the big grocery trip once a month, and weekly trips for milk & perishables. Once a week is about the most I want to go - I find I spend too much money if I'm constantly getting 'just one thing.'
Once I'm home from shopping, I'll do any prep that's needed. I chop & freeze any bread that wasn't finished to use later for stuffing, croutons, and so on (still learning this one!). I make sure the freezer contents won't fall on you when you open the door. Then - I get a cold drink and curl up with a book until it's time to start dinner.