Now that you have your recipes, you can sort and store them in digital or hard copy form. Or you can do both, like I do! I used to be a hard copy girl all the way, but I found an app that works so well with my meal planning system that it’s a no-brainer to go (partly) digital.
1. Digitally: Plan To Eat
This might sound crazy but I’m really excited about what I’m about to tell you.
I’ve tried various meal planning apps over the years, from the free ones to the paid ones that provide recipes and shopping lists. None of them worked just right for my family, so I gave up for a while and created my own manual meal planning system. But creating my own menus and shopping lists took time – a lot of time – and so I looked again to see if there was something easier.
Then I found Plan To Eat, and it honestly blew my mind. I geeked out. I told my husband about it. I showed my in-laws. I shared it with my sister and with my friends.
Have I tried every meal planning app out there? No, I haven’t. But it’s like finding the person you want to marry or the right wedding dress: when you’ve found “The One,” you just know.
Plan To Eat doesn’t provide recipes or meal plans; it provides a simple way to import recipes and organize them into menus and shopping lists. It’s very customizable, which is what I like best about it. I don’t organize my shopping list the way most everybody else does, and Plan to Eat allows me to arrange it how I want it. (This is also the way I’m going to teach you to do it in the lessons on this page.)
Plan To Eat offers a 30-day free trial, no credit card required! If you love it even half as much as I do, you can sign up for a subscription for $4.95 per month or $39 per year. (In full disclosure, if you sign up for your free trial through my affiliate link and continue with a paid membership, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Please read my affiliate disclosure for more information.)
This is my honest opinion. This is the meal planning system that I use for myself and for my own family.
And now, we’re moving on to the good stuff! The best way for me to show you how to use Plan to Eat is through step-by-step videos. There’s a lot to show you, but right now I’m going to focus on just two things: adding recipes; and customizing those recipes.
Check out the two videos below and let’s get started!
2. Hard copies
In addition to using Plan To Eat, I still like having hard copy recipes in a binder. I’m a bit of a messy cook and I’d rather not get food all over my phone. But I’ve actually found myself using my phone more and more now when I cook or bake. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Once you import your recipes into Plan To Eat, you can edit them as needed and then print them. You can also print them directly from a blog or website, but you can’t edit them before printing. Then I slip my hard copies into protective sleeves because of that whole “messy cook” thing. Having the recipe covered means that I can just wipe off any food that lands on it.
My binder is organized into basic categories: breakfast; lunch; dinner main dishes; dinner side dishes; snacks; and dessert. Another group you may use is drinks.
If you sign up for my e-mail list to receive my free weekly meal planning template, over the course of a few days, you’ll also receive a few additional freebies from me, including these binder category dividers!
I also have a “Resources” category in my binder where I keep my kitchen reference guide, which includes information like a list of seasonal fruits and vegetables and food storage guidelines.
The first pages of my binder are my meal idea list followed by my weekly, reusable menus. Then I add each category’s recipes (dinner main dish, breakfast, etc.). I place sticky filing tabs on each divider page indicating where I can find the start of each category. Within the dinner category, I sort the recipes by week. Then I put smaller sticky tabs indicating where I can find the start of each weekly menu’s dinners. (I’ll go into more detail later about this later in this section.) If you’re more crafty than I am, which really doesn’t take much, you can pretty up your binder to your heart’s content. Have fun with it!
Then when I go to cook or bake, I pull the recipe out of the binder and place it in a document holder so it doesn’t take up much space on my counter. You can also hang it on the refrigerator as long as it’s close to your work space.
Watch the video below to see how I organize my binder!