The Recipe Rut
I’m all for trying to save money and eat healthier by cooking at home. But it’s so hard to do again and again and again! Even if you do a ton of research and create the best Pinterest recipe board, it’s easy to fall into a recipe rut and cook the same five meals on repeat. I recently caught myself in this loop and decided to put an end to it once and for all. How did I do that? By creating the ultra meal planning tool – the recipe bank!
Problems that Need Solving
One problem I have with meal planning is that 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 for me 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 special ingredient that is necessary to bring the whole thing together.
I started looking at my other spreads, like my habit tracker, and then it 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. 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.
I present to you my meal planning masterpiece!
The Recipe Bank
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 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.
How to Set it Up
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 hand lettering and I’m kinda in love with it. My new and never-tried 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!
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 Amazon Music (You can get a free month long trial, and it’s a great deal especially if you’re a Prime member!) 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!
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.
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 $40 off your first two boxes 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! It just pairs so beautifully with my master grocery list, but 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!