Tag Archives: menuplanning

It’s working.


Alrighty, then.

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.

Good day, Sunshine.


where to start


From this zoo to yours, Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. I managed to turn 38 over the holiday break, which many of you caught on to (thank you, Facebook), and received just the absolute sweetest kindest most encouraging words and texts and emails all day long. SO NICE. Thank you. Every year, I am reminded en-mass that I know the absolute sweetest kindest smartest most encouraging people ever. I hope to be just like you some day.

The picture above? It’s the best we could manage. There were about 7 photos to pick (see what I did there?), and Abby is doing the same (un-staged) thing in all of them, God bless her. My cake is purple. Can you see that? It was intense.

I feel like there is a whole world to write about since the holiday silence. While I am gathering my thoughts and pushing two of three children out the door to school, let’s get back to basics.


My overwhelming desire and heart for this year is to find and bring home a miniature donkey. This is absolutely true.

MY SECOND goal is to pick up the faded thread of this idea and weave it back to life. Remember? Let’s Make a Plan? I’m talking about basic, back-pocket meals that you’ve made before and know work for at least the adults in your family. (After this holiday season, I have decided I no longer care if the short people in this house like the menu. Their answer is ALWAYS NO, so I am no longer asking or taking their opinions into consideration.)


I had a lot of trouble pulling the trigger on this plan because… I was scared? I don’t know. As I was pretending to plan weeks, even 2 weeks ahead of time, my brain was saying, “Katie, you don’t feel like making a roast right now. That sounds terrible.” I had to remind myself over and over (and over) again that this was simply A START. A beginning. I can change anything I want anytime I want. I can change days. I can switch weeks. I can erase meals and add newfound meals at will. I just need a place to start.

The clincher was walking down the school supply aisle one day last week and remembering that one of my love languages is school supplies. And fine-tipped pens. And paper. Ooooh, I do love paper. I went with skinny Post-It notes simply because they are reusable and also work in my planner. I revisited the original list of meals and even added a few more. I now have 54 different options to choose from… and many of those meals have options within options. Number 38, for instance: shredded bbq… this could be left over roast beef OR pork. Simple stuff here.

I didn’t list side dishes or anything else… just the main course. My goal here is to not have spaghetti 3 times a week (because we have been) and also to stop defrosting meat at 5:02pm every day. I numbered the meals as I thought of them. They are not color-coded by chicken, fish, meat, and veggie or anything like that. Again, simple stuff here. A prompt. A start. A push in the right direction.


I filled in only 5 days per week because weekends are almost always nachos and hamburgers and leftovers. I also know (I KNOW) to expect the unexpected. Maybe we’ll go out to eat. Maybe it will be completely nuts one night and I will resort to Jimmy John’s. Lots of room here to switch things around. Any meal not used just moves to the bottom of the list and begins filling in empty spots later in the month. Maybe I plan 2 weeks out and choose from a huge pool of options. Or maybe I lay out all 54 recipes and fit them into 10 weeks. Done. We’ll see.

So. Part I of this plan was to get the meals down on some sort of calendar. DONE. I made a grocery list for this week and I’ve already set meat in the fridge to defrost for later. So far, it’s working. It’s Day 1, but it’s working.

Part II of this plan is to get all the basic recipes into one easy spot. I have a habit of scrambling at the end of the day… pulling scraps of recipes from here and there, plus referring to one I snapped a photo of on my phone, and then pulling one up on the computer while I’m actually cooking. I want all my usual stuff all in ONE BINDER. I want to see that tomorrow is #9 Tai Peanut Noodles and be able to immediately find a paper with the peanut sauce recipe on it. What I would usually do is remember, “Oh, I have that on Pinterest.” Then I’d have to pull up pinterest, find my food board, scroll forever and find that post, click on the post, and then take a screen shot of the post so I could prop my phone up in the kitchen and read off the ingredients.

People. I would do this ALL THE TIME.


So, no. Like I said, I want to write down each basic (tried and true) recipe and have it available. I always use this sauce. Always. Write it down or print it out, Kate, and put it in your binder. Label it #9. Now it’s there. I’d like to do this each week for every recipe, and I want to do most of it in my own handwriting. I want to be able to give my kids a copy of this later and say, “This is what I cooked for you.” OR, “This is what you didn’t eat when you were living on the farm.”

Either way. 

A passing of the torch, if you will.

For Christmas, I made my mamma and me a couple of linen kitchen towels with my grandmother’s macaroni and cheese recipe printed on it. (I used spoonflower.) Mom used this recipe when she was first learning to cook, and mac & cheese is pretty important in this house. It was a good fit. I’m hoping the recipe binder will be a hands-on memento  for the kids. It’s been so easy for me to document life digitally for the kids that I have chosen to do so in nearly every instance. I’d like for this one to be different. I think it’s worth it.


At any rate, all that to say…


It’s a start.