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:
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