Meal prep and meal planning have become so much easier by organizing all of my family recipes into a family recipe binder. Mine includes a variety of recipes I know my family enjoys, so I’m not scrambling to throw together dinner.
It’s like having my own family cookbook, and every recipe is something my family enjoys and we have the ingredients to prepare.
Preparing more meals at home sounds great, but making that happen regularly is not so easy. Life gets busy and sometimes we simply don’t know where to start.
Maybe you have good intentions but then a slow internet connection keeps you from finding the online recipe you wanted to make for dinner.
Maybe you have picky eaters who complain about the meals you prepare.
But what if you had a family recipe binder filled with recipes your family loves to eat?
How to Set Up a Recipe Binder
- Binder (1 to 1.5 inch)
- Clear sheet protectors
- Printer paper and access to printer
- 1 sheet of cardstock for making tabs or colored paper for section dividers
1. Decide how you want to organize your recipe binder.
Having some form of organization will make it easier to quickly find the recipes you want when you are ready to prepare meals. Possible categories could include: breakfasts, lunches, main dishes, side dishes, desserts, appetizers and snacks, holiday recipes, and kitchen tips.
If you choose to use section dividers for your binder, type each section category in a large font on a separate page using in a program like Microsoft Word, and then print. Put the section dividers in sheet protectors and add them to your binder.
You could print your section dividers on colored paper to help them stand out, or you could cut out tabs using cardstock to make it even easier to flip to each section in your binder. I cut double-sided tabs that I fold over and tape to the sheet protectors of my section dividers.
2. Gather your favorite recipes.
If you have recipes saved that you have found on Pinterest or had a friend send to you electronically, print those out. Sure, having recipes available online can save paper and ink, but having them printed out and in your kitchen makes them much more accessible when you want to prepare a meal. Print and stick the recipes in sheet protectors with recipes visible on each side.
Also gather those pages ripped from magazines and any recipe cards you have. Small recipe cards can be taped to a sheet of paper and inserted in a sheet protector.
Don’t forget to consider recipes from existing cookbooks, but don’t tear the recipe out of the cookbook. I’ll tell you what to do with these recipes in the next section.
3. Compile a list of recipes by section.
Create a table of contents for each section so you can quickly see at a glance all of the recipes you have available in a particular category. You can type up a list or recipes in Microsoft Word or Excel, or you could use a sheet of lined paper and hand write your list of recipes and keep adding to the list as you add more recipes.
When using section dividers, I put the section divider sheet (i.e., breakfasts) in the front of a sheet protector and the list of recipes for that section in the back side of the same sheet protector.
Be sure to include your favorite recipes from cookbooks on this list too so you remember them when you are planning what to prepare for upcoming meals. Make a note of which cookbook the recipe is in and maybe even the page number from the cookbook.
Note: Why I use sheet protectors instead of a 3-hole punch
I put all of my recipes and organizing pages into clear page protectors in my binder.
- Sheet protectors make it possible to organize recipes that are smaller than a full sheet of paper.
- They also create a more durable recipe binder because they won’t be easily be ripped out like paper could be.
- Since you will be using the binder in your kitchen where spills and messes can happen often, having sheet protectors that are easy to wipe off is nice.
- You can also use dry erase markers on the sheet protectors. I find this helpful to keep track of when I last served a recipe. You could write the date with a dry erase marker next to the recipe name, and then use a different color of dry erase marker when you change months.
Why I Like Using a Recipe Binder
I like this particular method because I can hand the binder off to my kids and ask them to pick a few meals to have over the next week or month. It’s no longer completely up to me to decide what we all eat. My kids love having input in our meals. My husband likes that I am not fixing the same meals every single week because I have a binder filled with recipes we enjoy.
Meal planning becomes so much easier when you have all your family’s favorite recipes easily accessible right in your kitchen. Using a family recipe binder can help you cook more meals at home and spend less money eating out.
Have you ever tried to search online for a recipe at dinner time only to have the internet or a website be down or you couldn’t find the recipe you were looking for? This doesn’t happen when you have a recipe binder with your family’s favorite recipes already printed out.
How I Use My Family Recipe Binder
Once a week I will pick dinner recipes for main dishes and side dishes and add them to my planner. (I am currently using the Living Well Planner.) Sometimes I also ask my family for their input.
I try to focus on recipes I know I have ingredients for right now, and I make a note of ingredients I may need to buy for future recipes. In general, most recipes I make use the regular ingredients I buy, but sometimes I will be out of a particular meat or type of produce for a recipe.
I like to include a section of kitchen tips in the back of my binder that includes things like a measurement conversion chart and how to take care of cast iron pans.