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One of the best things I have done for my family has been organizing our meals. I have done this in two ways:
Monthly Menu Planning
What I did: I went through each of my cookbooks and found all the recipes I actually make. I made copies of the recipe page or typed and printed out the recipe, and then put the recipe in a page protector. Over time, I was able to compile all the recipes I use and organize them by type in the binder using the divider tabs.
Why I love it: Each night when I start making dinner I only need to pull out the cookbook binder. I don’t waste time wondering where my recipes are, sifting through a large stack of cookbooks. Also, when I find a new recipe on the Internet, cut one out of a magazine, or make a copy of a friends’ recipe, I just place the recipe in a page protector and slip it in my binder. Everything is streamlined and organized.
Bonus: The page protectors help keep food splatters and crumbs from ruining the recipe.
What I do: Mid-month I will sit down one night and plan the menu for the upcoming month. I only plan lunches and dinners because I do not cook breakfast on a regular basis. When the menu is complete, I print it out and slip into the binder cover for the week.
How I plan: Mondays are soup nights in the cold months or lighter meals and salads in the warm months. Tuesdays are Mexican nights. Wednesdays are pasta nights. Thursday meals are chicken-based. Friday meals a
re beef-based. Saturdays are rotated. Sundays are crock-pot or quick meals for lunch and dinner is typically something easy or a time to clean out the leftovers in the fridge. I try to think through the rhythm of our family: which nights I don’t have a lot of time to be in the kitchen and which meals will have leftovers that may work with other meals or as lunch the following day.
Why I love it: Menu planning saves me so much time and money. I am not worried about what to make for dinner each night and I am able to tell my children exactly what’s for dinner when they wake up asking me. Menu planning makes grocery trips easy. I save money on grocery bills because I know exactly what I need and I don’t have to make multiple trips to the store throughout the week.
Bonus: As I have done this each month it gets easier because I typically take the same schedule and repeat it for the next month with a few tweaks here and there. We rarely have the same meal twice in a month so it never gets boring.