Welcome back to my 31 days towards 10 Minute Dinners series.
We are spending these first few days instilling new habits or quite possibly dusting off old ones. The goal is to create a solid framework by which to draw upon when our brains are numb, and the “What’s for Dinner?” question echoes through the house.
I don’t know about you, but even though I teach meal planning classes and know many of the meal making short cut tricks out there, I still have those weeks where I am in a brain fog, and can’t seem to shake myself out of the funk. It’s for those very moments, that we need a Meal Solutions binder.
This is not to be your “put all the recipes that look good here” binder. This system is going to be your “brain” for quick and easy dinners. I asked you yesterday to Start at the Very Beginning, and gather ten of your family’s favorite recipes. They didn’t necessarily have to be 10 minute type of dinners, we’ll get to that later in the month, but I requested hard copies of favorite recipes.
If these happen to be recipes that you have stored on-line, print them off. Is it one of your favorites that you have ear marked in a cook book? Photo copy it or write it down. You get the idea.
Our goal is to have a notebook (and shelf) where we have all our tried and true recipes stored in one spot. We don’t want to spend time trying to remember where it is. (Can you tell that I have learned from experience? I can’t tell you the amount of time I have spent hunting for recipes.) If some of your favorites are ones you always make, but you have them memorized, write the title onto a note card and put it in the binder – then find another recipe that you can print off.
Today, I want you to look around your house and find a 3 ring binder that’s laying around. (If you don’t have one, a folder will work for now.) Gather some page protectors and slide those hard copies into the page protectors.
I love cook books. In fact, I collect them. They sit on shelves, gather on my night stand and are tucked in corners of the house, but reading them and appreciating new recipes, doesn’t get meals on the table.
Planning and implementing the recipes does, so this is our first step.
After you’ve put all the hard copies in one spot, we are going to make an ingredients list for these recipes, so that it’s super easy to just glance at a master list to see what ingredients are needed. Too often I hear friends complain that they got half way through mixing up a recipe, and then realized they were out of an ingredient. They were nervous in their attempt to be creative with the recipe (we’ll tackle that later in the month), so they felt dinner was a waste.
Have freedom with the fact we won’t have to hunt for all the recipe. Keep the recipes and ingredients in one spot.
Below, I’ve started typing up my own ingredients list of our Family Favorite Recipes. Remember, I am implementing the same steps that I am asking of you. Feel free to print off my first page. It’s nothing fancy, but right now, we are just getting the basics down. I’ve left some columns for you to fill in your own ingredients.
There are added benefits of having a notebook like this. If you are incorporating your children into the kitchen activities, and teaching them to cook, this will be a valuable resource because they can learn to master a few of these recipes. Also, if you are desperate, you can always hand off the ingredients list to someone else, and they can help with the shopping.
I’m slowly working through writing out all of my ingredients from the following recipes, plus about ten more that I will be adding here this month. When I am completed, I will post a master list for you to use. Today, when I am done with this initial ingredients list, I will slide that list into a page protector, along side the hard copies of my recipes.
Next, take your list and designate a pantry shelf or better yet, separate small bins for the varying meals where some of the the non refrigerated recipe staples will be stored.
When I race through the door and haven’t a clue what I am making for dinner that night, I need to be assured that I will always have ingredients for some of our fast, family favorites. I don’t want to count on easy burritos, only to find I am out of the necessary tomato sauce or tortillas. Those should already be in stock on that fast favorites shelf/bin. Don’t try and keep all the ingredients from your entire top 15 list because that may get overwhelming, but just make sure that you always keep at least five recipes in stock.
Over the next few months, we will continue to add to this binder and bin. At first, it may seem like busy work, but you will thank me later, and you will reach for it regularly. For me, I need someone else helping me do the thinking and this Meal Solutions binder will do that for us if we just put a bit of work up front.
The start of my list.
Asian Citrus Salad (with homemade dressing)
I don’t want you to think this is too much like school, since I don’t like paper work either, so over the next few posts, I will share some of the best time and money saving tips that have revolutionized the way I prepare for dinner.
I’m looking forward to digging in with you.
Have you ever implemented a Meal Solutions Notebook before?
How did it work for you?
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