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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Recipe Binder

I am constantly trying to figure out ways to simplify/make my life easier. And one of my big concerns (this applies to most moms I'm sure) is dinner planning and prep. Every. Single. Day. Right? I always have my eyes open for new recipes I think we may like, new meal strategies for my picky eaters, and any ideas I may find or come up with that help streamline meal planning and cooking.
A few years ago I created a recipe binder as a place to corral all of our most loved and well used recipes instead of having to flip through our collection of recipe books and stack of random recipes torn from magazines or printed from the computer or jotted down on paper scraps. I spent a good amount of time typing up recipes and getting it all put together and was happy with it. But over the months as we collected new recipes and our lives evolved and of course I once again ended up with of a collection of random pieces of paper all shoved in among the original typed recipes. Another organizing session was long overdue and I've been slowly working on typing up and printing out the newer recipes (or ones I forgot the first time!) over the past few weeks. And this week - success! I finally sat down and put the whole thing together, including the part where I make it all organized and cute :)

This was my original binder, which I still love. I didn't do a thing to the binder or the cover (it's just a 3 ring binder from the office supply store that has the pockets on the front so you can customize it). I couldn't find the same type of divided page protectors as I had been using before, so I ordered a big box of 100 from Amazon (divided page protectors with two 5x7 pockets per page) and switched those out.
Once the recipes were all in page protectors and categorized I was left wondering what to do about divider tabs. I had a few on hand but they were either pink floral (not gonna go with my black and red color scheme - ick!) or those cheezy slide in ones (those have their place - in my idea binders where I don't care what things look like. Yes I'm OCD like that :) ). Yuck. I just couldn't do that to my binder after all that work. And I wanted it done NOW, not after the 1 1/2 hour round trip to Walmart I would have to work into my schedule if I wanted new ones and no guarantee that they would have some that would work. Then inspiration struck.

I pulled out a stack of used manila file folders and chopped them in half. Then I spray painted the tabbed side black.

And then I made them all cute (strips of patterned paper, vinyl lettering with the Silhouette, and printed on address labels for the tabs)

And finally - a fully functional recipe binder! In addition to the recipe categories I have a tab at the end for menus, etc. For now all that I have under that tab is a list of items my kids will eat, which I hope will help meal planning easier as I can quickly glance at it and see which of their favs I can work into the mix. I plan to add another list of meal ideas (categorized by style like italian, mexican, slowcooker, etc as that is how I plan my menus for the week) and maybe work up some meal plans. But for now, I'm happy to have it done to this point. Happy dance!

How do you organize your recipes and plans your meals for the week?

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