Menu Planning My Way!


Menu Planning.

I’ve tried meal plan subscriptions. It seemed like a lot of work.

I’ve tried creating my own weekly meal plans. Took too much time to sort through all of my cookbooks.

I’ve tried winging it and surviving on my frozen pre-cooked freezer meat and meals. That worked best but I found myself most days still wondering at 4:30 pm what we would eat for dinner that night!!

So, I did what most moms do- searched Pinterest for ideas! I found many different good ideas. But none seemed to work for me.

Then I had an idea. I could create my own unique system. Menu planning MY WAY!

I envisioned a system of laminated index cards that contained all of my favorite recipes and then more index cards that had the recipes I want to try.

It ended up looking a little different than I envisioned, but still amazing! This is going to be a long post. Pause, run and turn on the Keurig and make yourself a cup of coffee, and let’s get started. This is going to take awhile! But it will be worth it!

This took me about a month of working on it a few times a week to gather the recipes and print and finish this project. But the time I spent will be worth it to organize meal times!

Menu Planning My Way:

First Step:

  • Gather your cookbooks, paper or index cards, pen and your iPad.


Second Step:

  • Put headings on each paper/index card. I started with index cards because, well, I love them!
  • Here’s the headings I used: Favorite Chicken Recipes, Favorite Beef Recipes, Favorite Pork Recipes, & Favorite Soup Recipes. Then brainstorm and list all of your favorite tried and true recipes under the appropriate headings. Be sure to note which cookbook it’s in and the page number, if applicable.
  • Come up with an easy way to differentiate between your cookbooks. For instance, I used a Y for my yellow cookbook, a P with a date for another cookbook that had recipes with dates on them {Old meal subscription I had and saved}, a P for Pinterest recipes, an IP for recipes saved to my iPad, a CH for recipes I printed and put in a cheetah notebook, and BP for my big pink binder full of recipes. Come up with abbreviations that work for you.

You’ve sorted through and listed your favorite recipes. Congrats!

Third Step:

  • Grab some more paper/index cards and write out new headings.
  • Here’s the headings I used: Recipes to Try: Chicken, Recipes to Try: Beef, Recipes to Try: Pork, Recipes to Try: Miscellaneous.
  • Now, grab a cookbook and pour through it! Write down the exact names of the recipes that interest you in the appropriate heading. Be sure to note which cookbook it’s in and the page number, if applicable.
  • Do this for each cookbook, blog, and with your pins. This is the most time consuming part of this menu plan. I did this slowly over a few weeks. I enjoyed this part!
Recipes to try

Recipes to try

I read through my cookbooks, pins, and printed recipes and wrote down the recipes I really wanted to make. If a recipe looked too complicated I didn’t write it down.

Fourth Step:

  • Break out your computer. I used Word and changed my page size to 5×8. I typed up my lists, printed on colored card stock (normal sized paper), and cut the lists down to size to fit into my little 5×8 bound sheet protectors.
  • Sometime during this project, head to Staples and buy this 1 package of 10 bound sheet protectors. All of the sheets are bound to this flexible little plastic spine. Insert your printed lists in the sheet protectors. Print a cute little cover for your recipes and add that as the front page.


I decided to give each category a color: chicken recipes were ivory, beef recipes were pink, pork was green and miscellaneous recipes were gray. You can print them all on white card stock or even plain white paper.

Here are a few pics of my finished pages.

Here are a few pics of my finished pages.




You also need to decide where you want to keep this little mini recipe binder. I bought little rings to hook through the top little hole on the plastic spine. I also bought a little Command hook. I’m going to put the hook either on the side of my fridge or on the inside of one of my new pantry doors. Then I’ll hook the recipe booklet on that.


So, that’s how I decided I am going to menu plan from now on.


Just a few days ago, I bought 10 pounds of ground chuck because it was an amazing deal! I have never had a list of recipes like this before. I decided to brown and freeze some ground chuck, but wanted to prepare and freeze other ground beef meals. I flipped to the page of “Recipes to Try: Beef” and picked out a few brand new recipes to prepare and freeze. Before this list, I would not have had such a great list of recipes right at my fingertips!!! I would have had to sit down and spend time browsing through all of my cookbooks.

Today, I found two packs of chicken thighs for a great deal. I looked for my tried and true recipe and couldn’t find it. I peeked into my “Favorite Chicken Recipes” and realized it was a pin and I was looking in the wrong place! Yay!

How to use this menu planning tool:

Sit down and pick a few favorite recipes and one or two new recipes to try for the week. Base dinners around what is in your freezer or what is on sale. Look through your list for recipes that will easily work with your frozen meats or your latest find (Hello 10 pounds of ground chuck. I didn’t expect to buy that this week!!!)

This plan is working… for me! I know this has been a LONG post. I hope I’ve made the steps clear. If you have any questions, please ask away!

Random thoughts: The upside to the sheet protectors are you can pull a list out and star it if you liked the new recipe or cross it out if you hated it. Update the list as you have time.

One last random thought. Living with food allergies is not easy. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an organized list of safe recipes right at your fingertips??? What are you waiting for? Ready, set, GO! 🙂