Do you have a recipe binder… or a drawer… or box? You know, a place where you keep all of your recipes together?
Do you ever go through it? I mean, really go through it and make the recipes you have? Or throw some away?
Probably not. Am I right?
I know I don’t.
I have a recipe binder where I store printed recipes that I’ve tried (or want to try), and over the years, it’s become a complete disaster which hasn’t helped when time to meal plan comes.
Speaking of meal planning… last month I shared how meal planning has always been a struggle for me, and how I’ve always felt like I just couldn’t get the hang of it on my own. I recently found a new real food meal plan subscription to try called Frugal Real Food Meal Plans that is designed to do all the planning for you, to help you eat properly prepared real foods, and to save you money every month on your grocery bill.
So today, I thought I’d share how I cleaned out and organized my huge recipe binder along with a quick update on how this past month using the Frugal Real Food Meal Plan subscription has been going for me, including how much money I saved on food this past month.
Cleaning Out & Organizing My Recipe Binder
Like I said, my recipe binder has been a disaster for quite some time.
The problem started because I was in a hurry and would add recipes to it without really organizing them in a way where it was easy to use. And, I never took out the recipes that didn’t work for us. Basically, it got cluttered.
As I was doing some planning using the Frugal Real Food Meal Plan subscription this month, I decided that enough was enough. I needed to simplify things even further, and one way of doing that was to clean out that binder.
I’d just read a post by Kristen over at Live Simply about how she really only keeps 20 of her families favorite dinner recipes on hand at one time. She said this helps her when she goes to plan her meals for the week since it cuts down on what she has to choose from, and she knows everyone likes everything.
So, I decided to give her method a try. I cleaned out and organized my binder.
Below you’ll find the steps I took to get this hot mess turned into a hot, meal planning tool.
1. Get Rid Of What You’re Not Using
I started by taking every single recipe out and divided it into two piles.
The non-favorites went into the boys drawing bin to be reused, and all I was left with were recipes that I knew everyone liked and would eat. That’s a huge plus right there!
2. Divide Into Categories
The next step I took was to divide all my recipes into categories to make them easier to find and go through.
My categories were:
3. Assign Daily Meal Themes
Another thing I learned from Kristen (can you tell I like her… she’s a meal planning pro in my mind) was to assign each day of the week a specific theme to make choosing foods for those days easier.
I did this a while back, but I thought I’d refresh my list as things in our schedule have changed.
My daily meal themes are:
- Monday – Mexican
- Tuesday – Soup, Sandwiches, & Salads
- Wednesday – Leftovers
- Thursday – Italian
- Friday – American
- Saturday – Seafood
- Sunday – Leftovers
4. Organize Recipes By Category
The last step I took to organize my recipe binder was to put all of the recipes in each category and theme in a separate plastic sleeve and then to insert them in the binder. I’ll go back in later and add some divider tabs (like these) to make finding what I need even quicker.
And that it folks! Those four simple steps took my recipe binder from a mess to nice, neat, and organized. Maybe now, when I decide to make my own meal plan or when I need to substitute a meal in the meal plan subscription, I’ll have an easier time finding what I need.
How My Meal Plan Subscription Went This Past Month
Okay, so now I want to quickly share how this past month using a new meal planning subscription went for me.
If you missed last months post on why I chose a new meal plan subscription, you can read that if you’d like.
- Didn’t have to spend tons of time planning meals each week.
- Weekly grocery shopping was kept to a minimum as most items are purchased when prepping for the coming month.
- Didn’t waste as much food.
- Cooked from scratch more with properly prepared foods.
- More often than not, there was food left over for lunch.
- I loved that there’s one dessert each week. It satisfies my sweet tooth without overdoing it.
- Saved money on food! I spent $529.22, and we ate out less often.
- The beginning of the month prepping took quite a bit of time. I’m not sure this is really a downside because it saves you so much time later on. We’ll see how it goes next month.
- Family didn’t love all the meals (they did like most of them, though)
- Meals weren’t always a quick fix, even with the prepping. Some still took a while to fix.
- Even though I prepped things early, I still forgot to dethaw meat, beans, or put food in the crockpot before dinner which meant I had to switch meals around.
- Many breakfasts required morning prep and cooking. I like pre-made, simple breakfasts. They sure were delicious, though!
- Most meals are one main dish and with one side (one veggie, bread, or salad). I like lots of veggie sides so I had to buy extra veggies for side dishes.
- I feel like I had a lot more dishes to wash. 🙁
- I think I need to purchase a second fridge. LOL!
Overall, I really like this meal plan. I do think it will take me a little bit to get used to as every family is different, and there’s no way one meal plan subscription can perfectly fit all families. I’m just going to have to learn how to tweak things to fit us better.
I think this next month I’ll be better prepared for all the prepping I have to do beforehand. I’m also planning on making extra quick-fix breakfasts like granola, bread/veggie muffins, and smoothie packs, and I think I’ll do better at dethawing things or getting crockpot meals ready ahead of time. Again, it just takes some time to get used to doing things in a new way.
Most of the downsides above are my own personal preferences so just because they’re a minor downside to me doesn’t mean they’ll be a downside for you. In the end, I plan on sticking with this new meal plan subscription. I’m excited to see how it goes as we continue on with it.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Frugal Real Food Meal Plan subscription, check this page out to see if it’s a good fit for your family.