I know, I know! The words “meal planning” carry with them a stigma of spending hours pouring over recipes, only to have your “plan” scrapped due to changing schedules or moods, resulting in wasted time and energy. Why would anyone want to do that? If done the right way, however, (whatever way that is for you, not necessarily my way- picture my shocked husband here) meal planning can free you in a way you could only imagine! Close your eyes, after reading this of course, and imagine a world in which you do not have the 4:30 panic attack of What Am I Going to Cook for Dinner?! Imagine having all the ingredients you need for dinner ON HAND and ready to be cooked! Imagine waking up in the morning and “starting” dinner, thus relieving some of the afternoon and evening’s burden! Oh yes, my friend! It can be done!
In the next few posts I will guide you through the process that I use to create a meal plan for 5 weeks. You read that correctly, 5 weeks! We will organize, plan, shop, prep, and cook and it will be magical! I’ll give you homework assignments at the end of each post and when you’re finished with that to your satisfaction you can move onto the next step. The idea here is to reduce the anxiety and stress, so keep that in mind as your working on your process and your plan. If something I suggest just doesn’t work for you, find a way to do it your way and then please share what you did in the comments of that post to inspire other readers.
For our first exercise we are going to organize our recipes. I have a slight obsession with organizing and recipes, so for me this was already done, but I’m not under the false impression that everyone is as crazy as I am. This could look like a few different things for you:
- A tabbed recipe box
- A tabbed recipe notebook
- A folder on your computer with your recipes typed and organized by kind
- An organized Pinterest page
- Something else totally awesome that you thought of yourself
Currently my recipes are organized and stored in two different places- in a tabbed notebook on my kitchen counter and on my Pinterest page. Here’s how my recipe notebook is organized:
Here’s how my Pinterest recipes are organized: I have one board for each kind of recipe. My boards all start with the same title of “Recipes-…” and then are labeled by kind. Here’s the list of boards that I have:
- Recipe Collections (these are those posts like “15 Weeknight Crockpot Recipes” or “35 Ways to Cook Chicken” that I haven’t explored yet and pulled out the recipes I think I might actually cook)
- Recipes- Appetizers
- Recipes- Beef
- Recipes- Bread
- Recipes- Breakfast
- Recipes- Cakes & Cupcakes
- Recipes- Candy
- Recipes- Chicken
- Recipes- Cookies
- Recipes- Crockpot
- Recipes- Desserts & Sweets (these are separate from cookies, candy, etc. These recipes are brownies, pies, etc.)
- Recipes- Freezer Meals
- Recipes- Gluten Free
- Recipes- Homemade Ingredients (these are posts like “Homemade Mozzarella Cheese, Homemade Bisquick Mix, or Homemade Coffee Creamer)
- Recipes- Lamb
- Recipes- Pasta
- Recipes- Pizza
- Recipes- Pork
- Recipes- Sandwiches
- Recipes- Sauces & Spices
- Recipes- Seafood
- Recipes- Sides
- Recipes- Smoothies
- Recipes- Snacks
- Recipes- Soup
- Recipes- Turkey
As you can guess, this took a little bit of time to start, but now it’s SO EASY to find what I’m looking for. I used to have one Board called Recipes that had HUNDREDS of recipes. How on earth was I supposed to find anything?!
Another note, some of my recipes are in multiple Boards. For example, a recipe for Chicken Alfredo will be found in Recipes- Chicken and Recipes- Pasta to prevent any frustration of looking in the wrong board. (The internal dialogue “Did I pin that under Chicken or Pasta? Crud now I have to search both of them!!” no longer happens!)
Another thing to note- these boards are alphabetized. This makes it so much easier to find what you’re looking for!
As you try out new recipes you should go back to your boards and delete the ones you didn’t like to prevent you from accidentally making them again, and print out the ones you do like and put them in your notebook or recipe box.
Here’s a link to my Pinterest Boards so that you can see what I’ve done. Feel free to follow me! I always pin the recipes I feature on this blog.
So here’s your homework for this post: Organize your recipes. Use one (or more) of the above methods, or whatever works best for you. Once your recipes are organized meal planning gets A LOT easier!