It’s really amazing what a little planning can do. I’ve been trying for years to be a better cook, to be better at planning meals in advance and trying to avoid us eating out so often. When I look at our spending and see the thousands we have spent at restaurants, I just cringe. You know what I could do with all that money? *sigh*
Last month, I decided I would plan out our meals for one week. I’ll warn you– I’ve never been much of a cook, so not only did I want the meals planned out– I also wanted to find some new EASY recipes to try.
So I spent lots of time on Pinterest. If you’re on Pinterest, you know what I’m talking about. The recipes and meal ideas are ENDLESS. I looked for things that could be made in the crockpot, and hopefully had few ingredients.
Armed with several new receipes to try, I started out with the planning. The first two weeks I planned the meals out were very successful. Out of the twelve days I had meals planned out for, 10 of those ended up being a hit with my family. I spent less on groceries than usual for those two weeks, because I wasn’t randomly throwing things in the cart. I had a plan!
That’s when I decided I would make this a regular thing. If you’re interested, I will share my system with you!
It starts with one 3-ring binder and several plastic sheet protectors.
In the front of the binder, is my current monthly meal plan (yes I’m planning meals on a monthly basis… GO ME!!)
I put another of these on my refrigerator. When I make something that my family LIKES, I circle it. That way, I know which ones to make again. Several of the recipes I have found on Pinterest are definitely ones we will try again!
Next in the binder is a sheet protector labeled “Current Session.” My meal planning runs two weeks at a time, so I am grocery shopping every other Saturday morning for the following two weeks. In this sheet protector, I put the recipes for everything I am making in that two-week period. This helps tremendously when it’s time to make my grocery list.
Behind that, I have another sheet protector labeled “Misc. Recipes” This is for recipes I’d like to try soon.
In the very back of the binder, I have a folder that has been hole-punched. In this folder, I keep calendars for the next month and I have penciled in ideas for meals.
If you are seriously anal like me, you’ll like the fact that I keep a sheet in there as well with meals that family liked, and I keep track of the dates I’ve made them. My goal is to have a list of 40 recipes that we like so we have a good rotation and it won’t seem like we are eating the same thing over and over. As of today, I have 20 recipes accumulated.
Which brings me to the final part of the binder… the recipe cards.
In the front pocket of the binder, I have several blank recipe cards. When my family gives me the thumbs up on a meal and wants me to make it again, I write it down on a recipe card and file it in the recipe box in the kitchen.
When it’s time to go grocery shopping, I pull all the recipes for the next two weeks and make my list. Like I said before, our grocery bills are less. We’ve also been able to have yummy leftovers for lunches.
So there you have it. I’m happy with how successful I’ve been with planning, and my family is happy to have home-cooked meals. Eating out for us has become a treat rather than an everyday occurence and I love that.
My checkbook loves that, too!