It has begun.
I am nearing the end of WEEK 4 of my menu-planning journey (started HERE and then for real HERE), and I will say here and now and in front of every Enneagram Type 4 who believes it is impossible that IT IS WORKING. I, Mary Kathryn Sebeck Mulder, have been following a plan and IT. IS. WORKING.
I have made a few adjustments, of course. We all saw that coming. It was probably obvious as soon as you squinted at the Monday through Friday calendar above… first, what if you don’t eat those things on those days? Can you handle that? No. No, I cannot. And two… that stamping is way too similar to the CURLZ font. I was annoyed every time practiced pulling out my menu sheet. You laugh, but trust me: if you don’t like it… if it’s not easy and it’s not pretty, you’re not going to use it. Do it how you want and how it makes sense to you.
Ever the LEARN BY DOING poster child, I made a few adjustments before WEEK 1 officially commenced.
I went back and edited my original list of main meals. Each of these are numbered and (will eventually) correspond to a page in the menu binder.
I stocked up on fun masking tape, also known as washi tape.
I bought this binder at the local grocery store in the love language aisle of school supplies. It holds a half-sheet of paper and has a clear pocket on the front. I don’t want my recipes to take up the whole counter. AND, I want to be able to see the week or the next week or even the whole month at a glance right there on the front. LOVE.
I planned out 5 meals for 4 weeks, counting on leftovers and pizza and random nights out to fill in the gaps. Each meal is numbered and on its own mini-Post-It note so it can be easily moved and reused. No specific day delineation this time… just 5 meals so I could plan for grocery shopping and defrosting that week.
Look. I even added a little masking tape tag to the corner so I wouldn’t rip the plastic cover trying to dig the menu board out. Seriously, people. It’s like I was this whole other person or something. P.S. You know that slightly off and misprinted ‘S’ in MENUS is killing me. I am trying to not care. It’s working. A little.
All meals that weren’t used immediately on the front are stored inside. If I end up not using a meal one week, I just take off the Post-It note and add it to the inside list.
So. What happens is this:
On Sundays, I grab my planner (I use this one.) and my menu binder. I look at the front of the binder to see what 5 meals I’ve grouped together for the week and jot down the meals on the blank page of my planner. I add any side dishes I want underneath each main meal. I glance over the recipes and mentally check off ingredients. I write down anything I need to buy on my sticky Post-It note (in blue on the page you see below). Now when I head to the grocery store Sunday night or Monday morning, I have everything I need right there. The Post-It grocery list comes out of the calendar/planner and goes right on the handle of the grocery cart.
This is also when I track down any recipes I have not officially copied down and entered into the binder. Remember: my main goal in this whole operation was to have all my go-to recipes in one place. It will take a couple months to make that happen, but eventually each numbered recipe will have a numbered page in the binder. I’m just writing them out as I get to them in real-life. My second goal with all of this was to start writing things down again in my own handwriting. For years, I wrote personal notes and kept journals. This binder is my after-children attempt to use my hands again instead of my printer.
See? Scrap paper recipes pulled off the internet and out of a cookbook… now, transferred onto card stock, numbered accordingly, and decorated a smidge.
Except for a couple of recipes, like number 60, that I don’t trust myself to copy. Too long, too specific. Cut and paste, Friends. CUT AND PASTE.
Some are super pretty. Number 35 is my favorite so far.
Some are super simple. Meatballs? Here ya go. A little tape for color AND WE ARE GOOD. Abby helped me glue this. We are still working on the concept of less-is-more when it comes to Elmer’s.
Four weeks in, and I am a fan.
It’s flexible. It’s efficient. I really love that basically I’ve already made my decisions for a whole month at a time. I also like that I can see (in the planner or on the inside of the binder) what we’ve been eating recently and what we haven’t had for awhile. Laying out these post-its and having everything numbered cuts all the questions out. The decisions are made. They can be changed if need be, but they are made… and that is half the battle for me.
I don’t know if this is at all helpful for you. I actually really love organization and calendars and tape and pens, so this was a fun project for me. I can do it in small pieces as I build up the binder of recipes. And, crazy as it sounds, looking at planners and how other people journal (on Pinterest or what-have-you) is a favorite activity for me. It calms me. I love seeing how other people do it.
I like how this is working for us. It’s cut out extra grocery store trips each week- down to ONE from two and sometimes three. It’s cut down random grocery purchases, since I know exactly what I’m cooking that week. And, come 5 o’clock I know I already have a plan.