About the time I decided that I had to give my meal planning a makeover, I stumbled across a a blog post from a fellow Rochesterian about planning an entire year's worth of meals in one fell swoop. That was a wee bit ambitious for me, but she was showcasing a simple system created by her friend Amy J. that was easily adaptable. I jumped onto Amy's etsy site, ordered the lists, and got started!
Here's the abominable manila folder I spoke about in my last post. Martha Stewart would have tachycardia if she got a look at this mess. I separated all my dog-eared recipes into piles of chicken, beef, pasta, etc. and trotted off to Staples.
Don't you just swoon over page protectors and pretty binders? Greg thinks I'm pretty much the only person on the planet who swoons over such things, but I had to nearly clothesline a lady in mom jeans and a fanny pack for the last pink and brown binder on the shelf, so I am not the only lover of office supplies in this city.
I bought both the 8 1/2 x 11 page protectors and the ones for 4 x 6 photos. Recipes that I've copied or printed off the internet fit snugly in the 8 1/2 by 11's, and the ones that had actually made it to a recipe card over the years went into the others. More than anything, I love the recipes written in someone else's hand. They're like time capsules from my life, transporting me back to a day I'd otherwise forget.
Here's one an old friend scrawled out for me in her kitchen when she had me over for lunch. Chloe was a baby, her daughter Ella was a baby, and she lived across the street in the little neighborhood where we had our first home. She made wonderful chicken & wild rice soup and chocolate chip cookies on a cold day, and our babies crawled around on the floor, and I felt for the first time that maybe this stay-at-home-mom thing might work out. Maybe I wouldn't always feel so lonely. I haven't talked to her in years. Neither of us live in Pennsylvania any more. But I have this recipe from her, and the memory of that day, and it makes me smile every time I pull it out.
After getting my recipes organized into my pretty binder...
I got to work making a master list of all the meals I make for our family, all of the grocery staples we go through in a month (this list I added myself because it's helpful for me, but really not necessary), writing down an inventory of all our pantry, fridge, and freezer items, and planning ONE month of meals. I'm trying not to burn myself out, people.
I thought I would try this in April to see if it's manageable. If it seems to be working for me by the end of the month, I'm going to try to do three months of meal planning at a time. I was shocked to see how easy it was to plan a decent month of meals once I had everything organized in one place right in front of me. Seriously, I typically sit at the counter on Saturday mornings with my head in my hands, trying to figure out what to make. It usually ends with me saying to Greg, "Hey, how about scrambled eggs?" or "Do you think pizza three times in one week is too much?" I made the same five meals over and over, all the while ignoring my manila folder full of ideas. Not any more! This lady is crazy organized!