I'm so excited that Megan from The Homes I Have Made has agreed to share her meal planning advice with you. Megan has one of my favorite blogs on the internet (and you all know that I don't say that about everyone). But, wait, it get's even better!
I'll let Megan take it away from here:
Grocery shopping is my least favorite household task. Ever. I really don't enjoy any aspect of it, so I do anything and everything I can to make it as quick, easy, and efficient as possible. One key to keeping grocery shopping stress low (and our budget and pantry stock in check!) is to meal plan. However, that task too, can become burdensome and complicated if the system is too tedious or doesn't meet our family's needs. Over the years, I have developed and used a number of meal planning systems. Starting with my Magnetic Menu Board and moving simple recipe books, I've continued to refine and refine my system and process so that meal planning can be done quickly and doesn't become something else I dread. Years of trial and error and refinement have lead me to develop a concise, simple and flexible meal planning routine that is truly working for our family. My system is an All-In-One Kitchen Binder, and I can't wait to give you a tour of it today! I don't know about you, but I am more apt to use and enjoy my organization and planning systems when they are pretty. So instead of using a plain white binder to corral all of our kitchen organization and meal planning resources, I opted for a striped binder with pretty gold details. A quick label on the front and spine let the whole family know what's inside!
Although the outside is pretty to look at, it's the inside that contains all the helpful and time-saving goodies! Let me show you around! My All-In-One Kitchen Binder is organized into 7 sections: a resource section up front, followed by 6 recipe tabs… The resource section is where I keep every piece of helpful kitchen information I might possibly need for meal planning, shopping and preparations. From recipe inventories, meal planning worksheets, and grocery lists to recipe stickers, freezer labels, measurement conversion sheets and more…everything I need and use is right at my fingertips. All my pretty and coordinated worksheets are loaded into page protectors so I can see and reference them easily, but they remain safe from wear-and-tear and kitchen splatters. Let me show you the printables I use most often! At the very, very front of my Kitchen Binder is a stack of weekly planning worksheets. I use these worksheets to plan out our week's schedule and determine which meals will work for which nights. I've found this is a super efficient way to make sure I have crockpot meals scheduled for nights we have sports practice or don't plan meals for nights we have plans. Once filled out, this sheet is taped to the front of our refrigerator. Right behind our weekly schedule worksheets is a stack of pre-printed, blank grocery lists. I usually use these two worksheets together: once our week and corresponding meals are hashed out, I transfer the meals to the grocery list and populate it with the required ingredients for those meals.
Behind these worksheets are my recipe inventory pages. Organized by protein and color-coded to match the tabbed dividers, these worksheets give me a quick snapshot of all our recipes. Although I have various worksheets that organize recipes in lots of different ways, I find the two-page layout is my favorite. Instead of flipping through pages and pages of recipes as I build our meal plan, I can see all of my options literally at-a-glance! Right behind this two-page inventory is also a list of my crockpot- and freezer-friendly recipes. I like to include one of each of these every week, so having them on a separate list helps me find and remember them quicker! Behind my recipe inventories is a two-page spread of common measurements and equivalents. If I need to half a recipe or “translate” measurements, I can reference this spread instead of attempting to figure it all out in my head!
Next, I have two different sets of labels printed out and always ready to go!
These recipe stickers are not only a fun way to keep notes on recipes, but they are an eye-catching way to quickly locate a recipe type (e.g., freezer-friendly, feeds a crowd) when I am flipping through recipe pages. Although I love my recipe inventory lists, sometimes seeing a recipe and its ingredients reminds me why we love it or if we haven't made it in a while. The other set of stickers are pre-printed freezer meal labels. I try to double one freezer-friendly meal each week. We eat one serving as part of our weekly meal plan and the other half gets packaged up for the freezer. Having a set of these labels pre-printed means I can quickly write down any and all meal instructions and descriptions, so nothing gets lost or forgotten in our freezer! Behind the resource section of my binder are six recipe tabs. I have been organizing my recipes by protein type for years, and it just really makes sense for my brain and our family. Each tab is color-coded with the recipe inventories, stickers and other printables I use throughout the binder!
The tabbed dividers are actually all print-and-cut! So not only is everything color coordinated, they are inexpensive and easy to make!
Behind each tabbed divider are all of our recipes (for that category) loaded into page protectors.
Full page recipes are loaded right into the page protector by themselves, while recipe cards are taped to white cardstock. For cards that have directions written on both sides, I only tape along the left side so I can slide out the sheet and flip them over as needed. Once I determine which meals we will be making for the week using the recipe inventories, I can quickly and easily flip to the recipes behind each tab to populate my grocery list with all the right ingredients. I can meal plan and build our grocery list all in one, efficient spot! Lastly, in the very back of the binder, I have a stack of empty page protectors, so I can quickly and easily add new recipes whenever we try one worth keeping! Keeping everything in page
protectors loaded into a binder keeps this sytem flexable and customizable as our needs change. The printables shown here in my Kitchen Binder are just a fraction of the meal planning and kitchen organization worksheets I have included in The Ultimate Kitchen Printable Pack. From various meal planning and grocery list options to dozens of inventories, labels, worksheets, and more, this printable kit contains everything you need to organize your kitchen and streamline your meal planning and preparations processes. The best part? You can print out just the options you want and need to make your Kitchen Binder perfectly personalized and fully functional for you and your family! My All-in-One Kitchen Binder has allowed me to streamline our meal planning, shopping, and preparations processes so I can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with my family while still putting good healthy meals on the table each night. In fact, I can usually plan out our meals and prepare a grocery list in about 15 minutes each week (seriously!).
I'd like to give a huge thank you to Laura for having me stop by to share my latest meal planning process with you all!