The Meal Binder
With a growing family and a growing to-do list that just seems to get exponentially bigger each day, lately I’ve been working more and more on ideas to make our lives a little more organized and easier. One area that I seem to always struggle in is meal planning. Even with the various solutions I’ve come up with for meal planning (seasonal, bulk buying, etc.), it’s always seemed like I need a little something more to put it all together.
Thus in the last few months, The Meal Planning Binder was born.
I have a ridiculous love of binders and notebooks. I’m sure my husband thinks it’s some kind of obsession, and maybe it is! On the dining room table, on the kitchen counters, on my desk, you can always find a plethora of binders and notebooks filled with thoughts and ideas. I also have binders with schedules for blogging, work, and daily life. It just makes sense to have one for our meals as well!
Here’s how The Meal Planning Binder works. Print out your favorite recipes. The ones you have saved on Pinterest, the ones you’ve bookmarked from various websites, or ones that you have saved on your computer. You can print a few new recipes if you want, but try and stick to the tried and true recipes that you know your family loves. (For meal planning balance we try and use no more than one new meal idea a week.)
You can also add recipes that you don’t print off the computer. For these I will either use an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of paper (so it’s the same size as all the rest) and write down the recipe that is in my brain or from a favorite cookbook, or type it up and print it off like the others. You don’t have to write down every recipe in each cookbook that you own that you plan to have on your menu plans though. You can just keep track of the recipe by writing down the recipe name, the book it’s in, and the page number on your weekly menu page or board, whatever you use. You can also tear recipes out of magazines and put them in the binder.
Now here’s how meal planning with your binder can be so simple! At the beginning of the week or the month, open up your binder and pull all the recipes out and lay them on the floor. Pick out which recipes you want to make for your family that month and place them back into the binder in the order you plan on making them. Separate the rest of the recipes that you don’t plan on making that month into another section at the back of your binder.
Once you’ve done that you can easily see all the recipes you plan on making, as well as the ingredients. Go through the recipes and make a grocery list of the items needed for the week or month based on what you don’t have on hand.
This entire process can take less than 30 minutes and you will have all of your meals planned and your grocery list made! This really is the easiest method of meal planning there is, we love it!
Now the best part! Store the binder in your kitchen so that each morning you can grab it and see what you are making that day and see if you need to start thawing any meat or get anything going in the crock pot. Want a different recipe that day or need to change it around? Simply move one recipe in your book to another place. All your recipes are right there in the binder and you don’t have to waste time chasing them down or trying to figure out what is for supper. I know for our family this has saved a huge amount of time and frustration!
We can always add to our binder when we find more recipes that we love but once you’ve got your basic family favorites saved in your binder you’ve got the hardest part of meal planning done AND you know your family already loves the meals you are planning!
Have you tried this method of meal planning yet? What are some of your families favorite recipes to make during the month?