If you’re looking for a really simple way to meal plan, this post is for you. I’ve tried to meal plan in various ways – with apps, notebooks, folders, using groups where meal ideas were shared, and none of them stuck. I wasn’t consistent with any of them and that was because they just didn’t work for me or my family.
What I needed was to be able to meal plan, store recipes that I use regularly, keep a record of what food we have, and store recipes to try out. Personally, I need to physically see and touch a recipe, make notes on it etc, and I couldn’t do that with apps. Since starting the Live Lagom sustainability project, I’ve been consciously trying to keep track of the food we have. We would end up wasting quite a bit and sticking to a meal plan has helped tremendously. I also didn’t want to have to use lots of paper week after week, so I came up with a way to use one binder for everything.
How I created my recipe binder
I began by putting together a ring binder to contain all the recipes. The one I use is a Staples BETTER binder. It’s very affordable, and the rings open with the press of a tab, which is really handy. It holds up to 275 sheets of paper and comes in tons of colours, so if you wanted to separate your recipes into individual binder, you could colour code them and have a binder for each food group. There are larger versions as well, so if I ever need more space, all I would need to do is transfer everything over to the new binder and add more plastic sleeves to store the recipe sheets.
I popped a cover sheet (I created one that you can download for free at the end of this post) into the front clear pocket and wrote onto the spine label. I then put in a pack of punched plastic sleeves. These will keep the pages clean and prevent them from getting damaged with spills etc.
Meal plan without waste
The binder has two interior pockets. I use the one at the front of the binder to store a laminated sheet of paper that tells me what we currently have in the house. Knowing what you have is crucial to meal planning without wasting anything.
I use a Staedtler correctable pen, which is great on laminated surfaces because you can use the eraser on the back of pen and rewrite. There’s no need for wipes or any other removers.
My ‘What Have We Got?’ sleeve is divided into the following sections:
Fruit & Vegetables
In the Fridge
Pasta, Grains & Lentils
Meat/ Seafood/ Chicken
Tins & Jars
Cooked Foods/ Leftovers
I fill this in before I plan meals so I can try to pair ingredients together and use up things like that packet of bulgur wheat that has been sat on the shelf for yonks! Once I have meals written down for the week, I look through the recipes to ensure I have everything I need. Anything I’m missing, will go on a shopping list so I can ensure it is purchased for the week. If you’d like to add this sleeve to your recipe binder, I’ve created a free printable that you can download at the end of this post.
Organising your recipes
I divided my recipes into the following sections:
Use some coloured tabs to do this. I had Avery printable tabs left over from a project years ago and typed out the sections, so it was really quick to do. These are no longer available but I found an inexpensive alternative – Post-it index tabs – that will do the job just as well. You’d just have to write on each tab to distinguish the sections, or use a colour guide if you prefer a cleaner look. I used my Dymo label maker to print out mine.
Then all I did was fill in the sections! I printed out recipes that I use regularly and love and popped them in their sections. I’ve left additional plastic sleeves in so that whenever I find a recipe I love, all I’ll need to do is print it and slot it in.
There is an interior pocket at the back of the folder and I use this to store clippings of recipes that I see in magazines that I would like to try. Nothing makes it into the binder unless it’s a recipe we use and love.
Use your binder for more than just storage!
Since receiving my Instant Pot, I’ve adapted a lot of my recipes for pressure cooking, so I use post it notes to record the adaptations. I can try different settings and will always remember what I used previously. Or I’ll amend a recipe to cater for Yusuf’s allergies and will make notes so I know what to use in the future. I use my Personal Planner to write down dinners for the week and that way I’m constantly looking at it as I use the planner for other things throughout the day.
I’ve found that this is such a great way to meal plan, store recipes that we use and love, know what food we have, and store recipes to try out. I’d love to see your recipe binders, so if you create one, please tag me on Facebook or Instagram!
This post was created as part of a collaboration with other bloggers who all have great tips for meal plannning! Links to their posts are listed below:
To download the free printables, sign up for the And then she said newsletter below! Note: you’ll need to click on the link in the email you receive to confirm your subscription first 🙂
We have now been on our sustainable living journey as part of IKEA’s Live Lagom project for five months and I thought I’d write a little update on how we’ve been getting on and the things we’re still struggling with!
You can read about the project here and also take a look at everything we bought here, to make our home and lifestyle more sustainable. Some things have been really easy to implement and we’ve seen the pay off almost immediately. Others have been harder to implement and I’ll talk about those too here in the hope that some of you can offer some insight!
Products we love & what has worked well:
Our GLASNAVA curtain liners have been such a great help, particularly with our one window that isn’t double glazed and was letting in such a draft. We were also invited to a workshop at IKEA where we created draught excluders out of old pillowcases and other fabric scraps. It has been incredibly handy to have during the colder months and the kids can use it as a body pillow during the summer!
I am so glad I picked up the HARTE LED lamp. I didn’t realise how much I’d use a lamp until I had one! This doubles as my desk lamp and night light. I simply move it from my desk to my night stand in the evening and often won’t even switch on the lights in my room at all until we need a lot more light. It is incredibly bright!
The LOTTORP timer/ thermometer/ clock/ alarm is one of those things that you think is a little pricey for what it is but when you get it, you understand why! It’s very accurate, it has multiple uses – I use the timer to keep track of things in the oven or to keep track of how long I’m spending on work, or even in the shower with the kids to time them! The thermometer is particularly useful in the winter, so you can avoid turning the heat up too high. I can also see this being useful for parents of newborns who might use a gro egg to measure the temperature of a room to ensure it’s not too cold/ hot for the baby. This has more than one use and at just £4.50 it’s a steal!
We cannot do without our rechargeable batteries! We had lots of them before but I got the high energy capacity kind for my husband to use exclusively for gaming and one charge lasts a really long time. I’m still using the low energy capacity kind for my keyboard, laptop, epilator, toys, etc and those do just fine. Having the STORHOGEN charging unit is brilliant. We have batteries stored in one place and charging in one place. Nothing gets lost and we know exactly what we have so we’re not wasting money on regular batteries ever again!
The difference in money, time, consumption & wellbeing
We compared our energy usage in March when we received our annual statement from our energy provider. Our use of electricity is down by about 2% and our use of gas is down by 16%. I suspect the reduction in gas usage is also down to me cooking almost exclusively in my Instant Pot and relying on pressure cooking. However, we are determined to work even harder this winter to keep the heating as low as possible and to layer up more instead of turning up the thermostat.
I’m a lot more aware of what is being wasted and often feel guilty is we’ve wasted food or not stored something properly and had to throw it away as a result. I strictly meal plan every week so we use up what we have instead of buying more and more. I will often pack kids’ snacks and lunches if we are out all day using the FESTMALTID lunchbox and bag so we don’t buy things that we could have just prepared at home.
What we still need to work on
Our energy provider has a handy chart on their website that compares our usage to homes of our size in our area and apparently our electricity usage is still higher than average. I’m hoping the pay off from switching to LED will been seen in our annual statement next year but there is a lot we can do to cut down electricity use and our biggest problem is leaving things on charge/ on standby. I work from home too, so the computer is on a good portion of the day, but it doesn’t need to be especially if I manage my working hours better.
Recycling is still problematic for us. We have been unable to place the recycling bins in our bin store as we don’t have approval just yet but I’m hoping that this will come through soon and that we can begin using those to separate our rubbish and dispose of it appropriately.
What we’re looking forward to
We recently attended a Grow your Own workshop at IKEA where we learnt how to use their hydroponics kit and VAXER nursery to start indoor gardening and we planted our own rocket! The kids decorated their plant pots and poured in the soil and growing media and they really enjoyed the process. I’m also going to (finally!) plant our coriander pots and other herb pots.
I am so grateful that we were selected to be a part of the project and the workshops – they have all been so beneficial and truly eye-opening. We really live in a time where we waste and discard more than trying to save, reuse and minimise. What do you struggle with most in your homes/ lifestyle as far as sustainability is concerned?
We’ve started to teach the kids duaas recently and I really wanted duaa printables for all over the home to reinforce the importance of them before/ after doing anything. I figured if the kids saw these around the house, they would act as reminders for them to read their duaas and improve their Arabic, increase their interest for learning more about Islam and reading the Qur’an. I began to look for duaa printables that I thought would work but unfortunately, didn’t find anything I liked.
So I got in touch with the wonderful Caroline Sarri over at Mina and Moo Designs – she has a wonderful Etsy store with heaps of beautiful printables, nursery art and digital papers – to help me design what I had in mind. There are some duaas I haven’t memorised myself or ones that I forget to read. So I was keen to develop duaa printables with a more ‘adult’ design for those who want to increase their knowledge of duaas, or perhaps those who want a little reminder before they leave the home, or when they’ve finished eating, etc.
We developed two sets of prints – one that you can use whether you have children or not – and another that is designed specifically for children. You could put these at their level around the home, or laminate them and hole punch the corners to pop them all on a ring. That way, you can travel with them and if you have older children, they might prefer it to prints on the walls.
Each print includes:
- What the duaa is for
- The duaa in Arabic
- The transliteration of the duaa in English
- The translation of the duaa in English,
for those who don’t have a good command of Arabic, or those that can read Arabic but can’t translate what they are reading. They are designed to be neutral. So if you do decide to put them up in your home, they won’t clash with any decor!
You’ll learn the duaas for:
- Before you leave the home
- When you enter the home
- After you finish eating
- Before you sleep
- When you wake up
- Before you eat
- When you leave the bathroom
- Before you enter the bathroom
How to print these:
If you’d like smaller versions of the cards to pop on a ring like I’ve shown above, simply click ‘Print’ and using your print layout settings, choose 4 to a page. This usually works well in ‘Landscape’ mode – but choose whatever appeals to you. Once printed, cut them out and laminate them. Hole punch a corner and use an old keyring and there you have it! Portable duaa cards.
If you’d like a larger version to put up around the home like in the example below, click ‘Print’ and using your print layout settings, choose 2 to a page. Again, this usually works well in ‘Landscape’ mode. Once printed, cut them out and laminate them. We put ours up using white tac to avoid damaging the walls.
Eight simple duaas for things that we do every single day. I hope that inshaAllah this resource helps your family learn and memorise these. I also hope that they become an important part of your home, as they will ours, for years to come.
Please share this post with friends and family who may want to print their own. To download the free printable, sign up for the And then she said newsletter below and it will be delivered to your inbox! Note: you’ll need to click on the link in the email you receive to confirm your subscription first 🙂
Not long ago, I wrote about the Live LAGOM project that I am currently working on with IKEA. The project is focused on helping us live more sustainably and whilst we already do quite a bit (more on that in a future blog post), we knew there was still lots more we could be doing to reduce our carbon footprint, our bills, and to teach our children how to create less waste, recycle more and live more healthily.
A large part of the project involves a personal shopping session at IKEA following a home visit, where we had the opportunity to pick up £300 of products that would help us on our journey to living more sustainable lives.
Here’s what we bought and why:
Live LAGOM – those words didn’t mean very much to me until I read an email from the IKEA FAMILY team in October, inviting me to apply to participate in the nationwide project that would involve £300 worth of IKEA products, expert sustainability advice and a personal shopping session.
LAGOM is a term the Swedish use to refer to ‘in balance’ or ‘just the right amount’ – not taking too much but not going without either.
When I read the brief for the project, it seemed like something right up our alley and I applied immediately (anyone that knows me knows that I do not ignore anything IKEA!). A few days later, I got an email saying I had been successful (I did a little happy dance) and was invited to an induction session due to take place at IKEA Wembley in November.
Over the past couple of years, my baking cupboard organisation has fallen short. I used to bake on a weekly if not daily basis before I had children. When I was pregnant with my first, I completely went off all baked goods. Cake was disgusting and I barely baked at all. I couldn’t stand the smell (shocking, I know).
This is not a sponsored post. I purchased this planner to use and review and the giveaway is self-funded. All opinions expressed are my own.
Earlier this year, I wrote about my BASICS notebook and how I intended to use it to organise for 2016. While I love the notebook’s features, several things just didn’t work for me and I began to look for other options. I still intend to use the BASICS planner for work-related planning, so I was on the hunt for a more personal planner. Which is when I found Personal-Planner (thank you Google!)
We took the kids to the West Midland Safari & Leisure Park on bank holiday Monday and since we were there all day (the park opens at 9 am and we left after 6 pm) – I thought I’d show you how I pack for a whole day out with two toddlers!
Now while our safari experience was really enjoyable, packing for it really wasn’t. I could only really start getting things together when the kids were in bed and the excitement over hippos meant I had to literally beg a VERY chatty Yusuf to go.to.sleep. When they were both finally in bed, I was completely exhausted and almost wanted to pass out and tackle it all in the morning. Instead, I got to cleaning up the complete tip that was my living room, and then made a quick packing list and got started.
Every time a recipe has called for paprika, I’ve groaned inwardly because I know it will mean having to grab the massive box of spice packets and sift through them, hoping there’s some in there. I got to a point in March (yes, that’s how long I’ve been meaning to write this blog post!) when I decided that I really needed an organised system so I wasn’t constantly throwing out out-of-date packets of spices that I bought in bulk and never got round to using. Here’s how I did it: