Systems… that actually work

  • Sweet!
  • Finally!
  • Thank Goodness!
  • Yes!
  • Hip Hip Hooray!

All things that are said when you find a “system” that you can use AND it actually works. 

Here is the biggest thing I’ve learned about systems; you cannot copy them from others.  It just won’t work for you the same it works for them.  Every family and person is so different, however, you can take bits and pieces and put them all together to make it your own.  This system was inspired by a friend who has a list of all the meals that she makes for her family in in 1 central location, the “reminder binder”.  (The reminder binder is another post for another day.  Maybe she’ll guest post for me on that system ;)) 

Over lots and lots of time, I’ve gathered recipes that I’d consider staples for our family from cookbooks, magazines, blogs, other people and combined them in my own binder.  Here she is…

Front pocket:  Recipes pulled for upcoming week

Middle sections:  Recipes that we like to eat, staples at our house for breakfast, main courses, side dishes, treats and snacks

Back pocket:  Chaos… I mean, recipes that I’d like to try out to see if they will “make the cut” into the binder. Also, recipes that I just haven’t gotten around to adding to the appropriate place…yet.

Imagine what a creative person could do to this binder?  It could be cute, pretty, trendy and practical.  Maybe someday. 

Here is a couple of criteria that increases the chance of a recipe getting into my binder and some other tid bits:

–  Its gotta be easy
–  Staple ingredient recipes work best
–  Make the harder things on easier days, crock pot meals or such on the busier days
–  Always have a couple “go-to” meals in a pinch (mine are bean burritos, homemade chicken nuggets and pasta)
–  Be really flexible

Here is how the dinner binder works:

Sunday: inventory fridge, check grocery store ads for sale prices, match sale ingredients with list of standard meals or the try-out pile, create meal plan for the week and pull the recipes to front pocket for easy access. Lastly, someone, somehow go get the groceries….Done for the WEEK (except for prep, eating and clean up, but that’s obvious).  

Why having this plan and order is SO worth it to me:  Saves me time.    I will 100% admit I still don’t love to menu plan. Over time, I’ve realized I actually don’t mind cooking…most days 😉  It does require a bit of time up front.  I spend about an hour on Sundays organizing this, but overall,  it saves lots of time during the week. 

Saves me  energy. “What the heck is for dinner tonight?” while cruising through cook books and standing at the pantry door with hungry people needing to eat 10 minutes ago is kind of stressful and leads me to the next reason this system is worth it to me. 

It saves our family money.  Why?  Because when I was standing at the pantry door at 5:45 pm, when we reach meltdown hungry toddler mode at 5:30, I’d get on the phone and order pizza or chinese or burgers and it would inevitably cost us lots of money.  Lots and lots of money. 

Lastly, I love it because it is personalized.  How many recipe books do you have around your home and how may things do you actually make from them?  This binder is chalk full of tried and true/keeper recipes.  It gives us a bunch of staple options without eating the same 3 things every week and plenty of opportunities to try something new.  If we like it, it stays.  If we don’t, well at least we tried.

So, there is one system that took a while to put in place, but works for us.  Now, to find a system that actually works for:  time managment, orgainzation, cleaning and all the rest.

I’m working on them…I’ll be sure to post if something actually clicks for me.  Let me know your favorite systems you use. oh and yeah..I’m still looking for an awesome chili recipe.  I’ve tried 3 and none of them made the cut.  Can you help? 

Sweet!  Finally!  Thank Goodness!  Yes!  Hip Hip Hooray for the dinner binder!

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