Friday, January 6, 2012

Getting Things Organized

I like to cook and I'm a little bit obsessive compulsive. I like things organized and I function best when I have systems set up.  I've been making menus and planning our meals since we were first married, and sometimes I do better at it than others.  I also love to try new recipes.  I have more cookbooks than I could ever use and yet I still spend a lot of time online looking for recipes and ideas.  I've ended up with so many sheets printed off all over my kitchen counters and menus written on shopping lists on the fridge and I finally decided to buckle down and organize it all.  This is what I have come up with:
I started with a binder, just an ordinary binder, some plastic sheets, and dividers.  I found this cute cover the binder here (she also has several other color options).  I went online and printed out a calendar for the year, that's right, all of 2012.  I found this particular calendar here.  You should have seen Tyson's face when I told him that I was printing off an entire calendar for menu planning, poor guy thought that I was crazy enough to plan out our meals for the entire year all at once!  I put all twelve pages in one sheet protector, that way I can see two months at a time, but I also have past months to refer back to for ideas.  We tend to get stuck in a rut and repeat meals so this way I can see when we last ate something so that I can space them out better.
Before filling in any spaces I went over our normal calendar and made adjustments for days that we would not be eating at home, like date nights or time out of town.  Then I marked our leftover days.  My husband has a crazy schedule so two days a week he is only home for breakfast.  Those days we have leftovers.  I make sure to plan meals that will leave lots of leftovers for the day before our leftover day.  Sunday is also crock pot day in this house because I have such a limited amount of time to get dinner ready between church and the time that Tyson has to leave for work.  I also write down the primary vegetable that I plan to serve with the meal, one less thing to think about when it is time to grocery shop or cook.  With these things in mind, I turn to my meal ideas list and then fill in the calendar.  My list continues on to the back and keeps growing.  No more meal ruts for us!

 The meal ideas list is a lifesaver, it will save you so much time and frustration with your menu planning.  I made a list a few years ago and recently updated it with new favorites.  To make the list I went through my favorite cookbooks and printed recipes and wrote down the names of all of the recipes that we have tried and would like to make again.  I wrote today's date in the corner and as we try new recipes I'll write them on the list and every few months I'll add them to the doc and reprint it.  This is my current list of meal ideas if you want to some ideas.  And if you would like any of the recipes just shoot me an email, I love to share!  No secret recipes here!  

Behind the meal idea list I have my recipes.  No, I didn't type out the recipes from my cookbooks, I'm not that nuts.  This binder organizes the recipes that I find online or friends give me.  I like having systems for things and loose recipe cards and sheets of paper, pages take out of cooking magazines just make me crazy!  I type them up, and put them in sheet protectors, organized by category.  I use the sheet protectors for 2 reason; first they keep the recipe clean, and second, because I can keep things in alphabetical order.  I love having things in alphabetical order, they are so easy to find that way.  I've seen a lot of people just put the recipes that they printed off or clipped from a magazine right into sheet protectors and that would work great, but my OCD wants them all to be uniform in typeface and format so I retype them.
 Isn't that so nice and clean?  I love it!  I have to admit, I am way too excited about this binder!  My husband can't quite understand my excitement, but I'm sure that there are others out there who can.


  1. I have been needing to do this forever! I have way too many recipes and spend forever trying to find them. Not to mention I can never think of what to make for dinner, I really should plan ahead better.

  2. I love your calendar printouts! Where did you find them? I have looked on the web and can only find plain ones! Help!

  3. Love this binder! I repinned it a couple weeks ago and just need to get to it. But I think your meal idea list is genius! Definitely need to make one of those.

  4. Shanna, if you click on "here" where I mention the calendar there is a hyperlink that will take you right to it.