Let's Eat Workshop- Week 3 of 3

Now that you’ve made your cute menu display and organized your days into themes, now it’s time to move on to our final step in this series:
When it comes to menu planning, the hardest part for me is come up with a variety of meals for the week. Because of this, I organize my nights into themes, as we discussed last week, but the actual organization and storage of my recipes goes even a step further to help ease this {often painful} process.
Here is what I do:
I have 2 3-ring notebooks- one is labeled “Recipes to Try” and the other notebook is labeled “Favorite Recipes.” Each notebook has tabbed dividers that are labeled with the names of the themes I use for each night of the week. I have a “Mexican” tab for “Mexican Monday” a “Take Out” tab for takeout Tuesday and so forth. I also have a tab for “Drinks” Party Foods” and “Misc.”
As I read my magazines and find new recipes or print recipes from other blogs I see, I file the new recipes in the “Recipes to Try” notebook under the best tabbed section. A new pizza recipe would go under the “Take Out” divider, a new enchilada recipe would go under the “Mexican” divider.
All these recipes stay here in this notebook until I get around to trying them for myself. This eliminates piles of magazine clippings of random recipes that get lost or damaged before you can try them! And there is no sense of making any of these magazine pages look pretty yet- you don’t know if the recipe is a keeper or not, so just leave it in the folder. {We will discuss making your recipes prettier in one minute.}
When I get around to trying a new recipe, I pull one out of the “Recipes to Try” notebook. If my family loved it, I will then transfer the recipe to the “Favorite Recipes” notebook. This means that I am only keeping the recipes I know my family will eat. That doesn’t mean they all have to rate it a perfect 10, it just has to be good enough for me to save and want to make again. If it doesn’t turn out, I toss the recipe into the trash! No sense in saving a recipe it you didn’t like it, right?
My “Favorite Recipes” notebook will sit how it is until I get ambitious or find some extra time on my hand. If that ever happens (ahem.) I like to “Make my recipe cards pretty” and file it into my recipe box.
Making it pretty is a completely individual preference. I like to have a picture with my recipes, so I type the recipe directly on top of the picture, then I print the pictures at Costco & laminate them (because I discovered the hard way how messy I am in the kitchen and all my pretty cards were getting ruined! )

My recipe box also has tabbed dividers of the themed days of the week- which makes it easy to flip through while planning my menu.

So planning my menu for the week goes something like this:
1. Grab paper and pencil, 2 black notebooks and recipe box.
2. Find a recipe for Mexican Monday by looking in the file box or the “Favorite Recipes” notebook under the tab “Mexican”. Continue in this fashion finding a meal for every day of the week. Use the “Recipes to Try” notebook to find a meal for “What’s New Wednesday”.
3. Make a grocery list.
4. Go shopping.
5. Eat dinner.
6. Live happily ever after.

Again, because my days have a theme, the guesswork is almost done for me. And because my recipes are organized by theme, I can easily flip to the meal ideas for that theme and choose among tons of options!

Ta-Da! Easy, yummy meals in a wide variety! Meal planning is only going to get easier for you, I promise!

Stephanie Dulgarian is the creator of Somewhat Simple. She is married to her best friend and a mom of 4 kids living Arizona, USA. She loves ice cream, autumn, Sunday naps, traveling, game nights and shopping. She is not a fan of unloading the dishwasher, Peeps marshmallow candies, mushrooms, and she despises laundry more than anything else in the world!

A few of her favorite creations on her blog include “Let’s Celebrate Board“, “Master Bedroom Collage” and “The Dry-Erase Glass Calendar


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  1. Easy & Organized-Just the way it should be! I need some ideas for side dishes & how to organize those as well!

  2. Great ideas for organizing recipes! Those of us who live by our smart phones may like to incorporate your ideas into digital format with Evernote (free app for all phone formats, free program download for all computer types, too.) One advantage is always having all your recipes with you if you happen to stumble on a sale or see something that strikes a craving! Here’s a great explanation of it’s ease and power as a recipe organizer: http://wardstreetbistro.typepad.com/wsb/2008/10/organizing-reci.html

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