**Update on how the binder has worked for me can be seen here.**
I have seen recipe binders all over Pinterest. They range from complete menu planning systems that need a masters in engineering to figure out to the simple. Goodness knows there’s got to be millions on Pinterest, so if you think I copied you, I apologize.
I first started with a 2 inch heavy duty binder from Target. The mechanism that opens the rings for you is wonderful!! It hardly takes any effort to open it. And you don’t have to worry about bending the rings when you open them with your hands. Been there, done that.
For the dividers, I used up & up index dividers with pockets again from Target. The beauty of these dividers are the pockets. Hot pockets!! (Not really, I just watched Jim Gaffigan this morning. I will never think about any type of pockets the same again.) I use the pockets to hold recipes I want to try, as seen in the picture below, right side.
I had a ton of 4 x 6 photo pages from a long ago coupon organizing phase, so I used those to hold the recipes. Even if the recipes are smaller than 4 x 6, it doesn’t matter.
I also used full sized sheet protectors for magazine pages, 8 x 10 papers (I found many of my Grandma Blanton’s recipes hand written on paper mixed in with my Mom’s recipes.)
That lasagna up there?? It’s from Southern Living and it is to D-I-E for . . . it’s so good you won’t even care about what a pain in the rear it is to boil the noodles.
The organizing was kind of easy. I had cookbooks I’d never used or cookbooks that I only used one or two recipes from. I did the unthinkable. I tore the recipes out of the books and then threw the remainder of the book out. It was hard! But some of the cookbooks I’d had for 15 years or more. If I hadn’t tried recipes from them by now, I never would. I do have a few favorite books that I didn’t get rid of, but you never know! I went through every book I’d never used and picked out a few “to try” recipes and then tossed them as well. I was a little skeered, but I lived.
Now for the menu planning. Weekly I go through and pick out a mix of recipes that won’t have us eating chicken 5 nights of the week. I love chicken that much, but the rest of the fam? They prefer a bit of variety. When I find the recipe, I pull it out and put it in the front flap:
I use the Smart Shopping app on my phone to make the shopping list . . . ahhhhhh, so easy! I love that if I run out of something during the week, I can just put it on my phone. No more ridiculous lists that I never seem to look at before I go to the store. Shopping apps are probably old news to everyone else, but I’m a late comer to this whole smart phone thing.
Here are the categories I used for my binder:
- Side Dishes
Some of this might be redundant, but I wanted something laid out that was very straightforward. Another thing I’ve done is add 4 x 6 cards to act as place holders, like “Taco Night,” “Sub Sandwich Night,” etc. I don’t necessarily need recipes for those dinners but if I don’t have a visual reminder, I’ll forget. I guarantee it.
I pretty much think my binder is the answer to all my dinner dilemmas. So far, so good. Sometimes I just look at it and marvel that I have all of my family’s favorite recipes in one spot. For me? That’s monumental.