I used to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants cook. I’d somehow throw dinner together using whatever food we had on hand and, for the most part, it worked. Then I had a baby and everything changed. I tried to stick with my usual no plan plan and it failed miserably. Dinner began looking like a bowl of cereal, frozen pizza, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, oatmeal or some kind of assortment of a billion different kinds of convenient snack foods. I knew something had to change and began to dabble in meal planning and food prep.
With the exception of snacks and lunches which I still usually eat standing up, at my desk while working or on the fly as I dash out of the house with Chase, I usually have two important meals of the day – breakfast and dinner – pretty well planned out before the week begins. Though it took some getting used to, I now find myself enjoying the meal planning process and getting excited to try new recipes or make tried and true favorites each week.
I typically do all of my meal planning first thing on Sunday morning when Chase is still asleep and Ryan is at the gym. It’s usually a quiet time in our house (unless Chase decides 6 a.m. is party time) and I make myself a hot cup of coffee to sip on as I make my grocery list and plan our dinners for the week ahead. (I don’t worry much about breakfast since I pretty much have my morning meal down to a science and usually eat some combination of frittatas, baked steel cut oatmeal, overnight oats, egg muffins, etc.)
I’ve had more than a few of you ask for more insight into my meal planning process and where I find the recipes I use for our dinners every week. I am not a one stop shop kind of meal planner and prefer to get my recipes from a myriad of sources. I will often vary it week to week and some weeks almost all of our recipes will come from cookbooks while another week recipes might be from a collection of magazine clippings, blogs or Pinterest finds.
Below you will find my main sources for recipes I use in my meal planning process as well as a few tips and tricks I use to streamline the process every week.
How I Find Recipes For Meal Planning
Even though there are a billion recipes online, my favorite place to turn to for recipe inspiration is still a good ol’ cookbook. There’s something I love about flipping through beautiful pictures and dog-earing recipes that stand out to me that cannot be beat. I have a rather large cookbook collection, but when it comes to planning out my meals on Sundays, I’ll often just grab one or two to flip through and use that as my main recipe guide for the week. I also typically leave my favorite recipe pages in each cookbook dog-eared so I can quickly find them again when I grab that cookbook for recipe inspiration again.
- Recipe Screenshots
I am a BIG fan of screenshots on my phone! If I see a recipe posted online, whether it be on Instagram, a favorite blog, Facebook, etc., I will often take a screenshot of the recipe to reference as I make my grocery list, or, if I’m not quite as organized, I can easily pull up the screenshot at the grocery store to see what I need without scrolling through the internet to try to find it again. A little while ago, I took the time to organize all my recipe screenshots into one folder on my camera roll which makes it even easier to find recipes I love or am dying to try.
I subscribe to a small handful of magazines and whenever I take the time to flip through them, if I see a recipe that stands out to me, I’ll fold over the page and come back to it as I’m making my grocery list for the week. If the recipe is a winner, I’ll then tear it out and add it to my oh-so-fancy recipe folder. (See below!)
- Recipe Folder
My friend Minda inspired this one! Back when we lived in Orlando, I was hanging out at Minda’s place one evening and we made dinner together using a recipe from a homemade recipe folder she put together. I LOVED the idea and started my own recipe folder almost immediately. It’s now practically overflowing with magazine clippings, print outs from the internet, notecards, etc. It could definitely be more organized, but I love having a folder filled only with recipes that I love or ones that sound fantastic to me!
- Tried and True Favorites
I’ll be honest, some weeks the last thing I want to do on the weekend is meal plan for the week ahead. When I’m feeling this way, I typically turn to my tried and true favorites, also known as meals we love that I make so often I could practically make them in my sleep. I know the recipes by heart, so grocery shopping isn’t a guessing game. I think it’s a good thing to have a few fall-back recipes you know you can always turn to when meal planning just isn’t going to happen.
You guys expected to see this one right!? I love reading blogs and am constantly impressed with the amazing and mouth-watering creations bloggers come up with every single day. (FYI, Bloglovin’ makes it very easy to save recipes that catch your eye.) I’ve actually been meaning to put together a blog post featuring a handful of my favorite blogger recipes I’ve made in the past, so stay on the lookout for that one in the coming weeks!
Pinterest is such a great resource, especially if you’re a very visual person. I am trying to clean up my Pinterest boards and make them a little more specific (like quick and easy meals, healthy desserts, make-ahead recipes, etc.) so I can visit one of my Pinterest boards and quickly find new recipes to try.
Additional Meal Planning Posts
Question of the Day
- What is your favorite way to find new recipes to try?