I have a secret to tell you. Remember my old meal planning post from ages ago? I haven’t used that technique for planning my meals for a while now. In fact, I haven’t been doing it at all lately. I’ve decided to fix that by taking control of my cooking again. How did I do that? By coming up with a new meal planning method that is ten times better than the old way, that’s how! I sincerely hope that old method works great for someone out there, but it’s time for me to move on and address some obstacles so I can have properly planned dining.
Problems that Need Solving
What are these obstacles, you ask? First and foremost, I tend to forget recipes. I know that there are dozens of recipes that I can cook with no help from a book or video, but for the life of me, I can never remember them. This means that I end up cooking the same handful of simple recipes again and again. Delicious as spaghetti might be, I need to mix things up.
Another issue I struggle with is that I am absolutely terrible at remembering to do weekly spreads, which means that my old method is harder to do. I really want to start doing weekly spreads, but I find that it slips my mind more often than not.
One more problem is that I often don’t want to go through the annoyance of scrolling through my Recipes board on Pinterest to find that one chicken meal that I pinned six months ago. I’m all about trying new recipes, but I never think of it until the grocery shopping has been done, which means I don’t have that specialty ingredient that is needed to bring the whole thing together (I’m talking about you, Pomegranate chicken).
What I came up with is partially inspired by Kim at Tiny Ray of Sunshine. I saw her post about a master list of meals and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Of course I should have a place for all of my meals! That would solve my problem of recipe amnesia. I decided to go a different route than what she described, though. My goal was to create a page for quick reference that had a ton of meals, because who wants to flip to a bunch of different pages to decide on a meal plan? I wanted my solution to have movable, interchangeable recipes so I could keep things fresh. And lastly, I wanted to have a place to write down a bunch of those Pinterest recipes I’ve been meaning to try. So how did I bring it all together?
I present to you my meal planning masterpiece!
This recipe bank is the perfect fix for all of my problems! I can organize my meals and make them extremely accessible for a simple meal planning session. On each flag, I wrote the name of the recipe on the end so I can see it when they are all stacked up as shown. I also wrote the ingredients I would need to buy from the store for each recipe so I could easily flip to my Master Grocery List and add the ingredients to my shopping list.
The recipes are color coded so I can find a chicken/veggie/red meat/fish recipe in a glance. The pink flags have a wide variety of red meats, like sausage, pork, and beef simply because I don’t have a whole bunch of colorful sticky notes and we don’t eat that many red meat meals anyway. I also have several side dishes on the green flags in addition to vegetarian main courses. That’s because we cook the same side with everything, so it’s nice to be reminded of tasty alternatives.
I also have the bank divided into two sections: Old Favorites and Something New. Like the headers? I used my new Pentel Pocket Brush Pen for that dark, bold lettering and I’m kinda in love with it. My potential Pinterest recipes get stuck onto the Something New page so I can quickly determine what cool new recipe we’ll try this week. Now, I couldn’t fit the whole recipe onto the little flag, so I do still need to look up the cooking instructions when the day comes. But I wrote the name of the recipe word for word so I can easily look it up later. Until then, I can jot down the necessary ingredients for shopping.
These flags probably do exist somewhere in roughly this same size (maybe these?), but I just used regular 3″x3″ Post It Notes and cut them in half. Using my little 6 inch metal ruler and an X-Acto craft knife, I simply cut these notes in half to get the right size. I didn’t use the full square notes because they were simply too big, but three columns of the halved notes fit perfectly. You’ll also notice that I have them oriented downward instead of from left to right. I’ve found that having the free side of a sticky note flapping around near the center of the journal tends to lead to bent up notes. So I filed them facing down, and it works very well!
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Meal Planning – The Practical Application
This week, I finally remembered and drew up a rough weekly spread. It was so nice to sit down with my bullet journal and zone out to Focus at Will (it’s just this super neat science-based productivity music that you can try for two weeks free – no big deal) while coming up with a meal plan. I struggle so much to just sit down and do it, so I’m really glad I had the patience and foresight this week! Next time, though, I’m totally going to use some Meal Planning stickers from my Etsy shop. These are so helpful for getting lists done quick without sacrificing style!
I used little Post it Flags to jot down my meal plan for each day and stick it on. I could just write them down, of course, but being able to relocate the meals as plans change is nice. I’m all about flexibility! I also used some brand new little pens to draw up this spread. Let me introduce you to my lovely Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens and the beautifully fine Pilot Razorpoint pen.
I loved using the Pilot Razorpoint to write on both the Recipe Bank flags and the weekly spread flags because it writes so tiny. It’s essential to be able to write very fine on some the the recipe flags. You can imagine that it starts to get crammed pretty quick. And Pilot has never let me down before! They have some fantastic pens – I first fell in love with this brand thanks to their fountain pens.
And the Faber-Castells? Swoon! These pens have a stunning feel. They are so damn smooth, my friends. I really need to review them more in another brush lettering post. They are just so good!
There is one more method I have found to be fantastic for the practicality of meal planning. Let someone else do it for you! Blue Apron is a great way to take some of the stress off when planning meals for the week because you can have three whole meals (sides and all) delivered right to your door. I just finished a box from Blue Apron last week and it was delicious! They send such interesting flavor profiles and ingredients. For example, in the last order, we received Cod Sandwiches, Spicy Hoision Chicken and Broccoli, and Spiced Beef Skewers. That last recipe included a side dish of baked squash that we absolutely loved, plain and simple. We are adding it to our side dish rotation.
Besides being interesting, the Blue Apron recipes are shockingly easy to execute. They send very professional step-by-step instructions with pictures to help you prepare these delicious meals! So why don’t you diversify your recipe bank and experience new flavors? Get three free meals, or $30 off your first family plan order shipped straight to you by clicking my link and get a taste of the action!
A Much Needed Improvement
One other fun fact about the recipe bank is that when you switch to a new bullet journal, you can take the recipes with you! Simply peel them out of your spread and transfer them into your gorgeous new Leuchtturm1917. If any of the flags lose their stickiness, you can create a new one very easily. This really is one of those simple little tricks that can make things so much easier. I can’t believe it took me this long to think it up! That’s just the beauty of the bullet journal, though. Experiment until you find a system that works for you!
What about you? How do you like to meal plan, if you do at all? Tell me in the comments below!
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