Meal Plan Organization For Visual Learners

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This post was originally published back in 2012, but as I do some spring cleaning in October (I’m a little behind…) it was time to revisit this post, to straighten out my meal planning strategies!  enjoy!

Meal Plan Organization For the Visual Learner :: Vintage Kids | Modern World

 

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If it’s out of my sight, it’s out of mind.  I am most definitely a visual learner; I need to see something before I completely understand it.  This most definitely has it’s draw backs, but knowing is half the battle, right?  I know this is where my strength is, so I work with it, not against it, because otherwise, if it’s out of sight, I’ll go out of my mind…

The same holds true for my recipe and menu collection.  I CRAVE organization, but it doesn’t come naturally to me, so I work around my disorganization in a creative way:

Enter: the recipe spreadsheet ala magnet on the fridge.

Although spreadsheets also make me cringe, due to their inherent inflexible organization, I have learned to make them versatile to fit my style.  The key: I make headers and then leave the rest blank before I print it out.  Sooooo, in all honesty, it’s more of a list than a spreadsheet…but I like to think that I’m adult enough to use spreadsheets, so for the well-being of my self-esteem, I will refer to my “list” as a “spreadsheet’.

…Let’s continue, shall we.

So, I have oodles of great cookbooks, complete with fantastic font and pictures, and although I do have moments when I decide to remove them from their shelf and flip through them, they are more of a symbol of moral support than a tool of use, simply because I forget what wonderful recipes are inside.  To help with this, I have developed a way of showcasing my most-used recipes, but there is no reason to display every recipe or meal idea.

To solve that problem, I keep a “spreadsheet” on my fridge with a list of our most used/most favorite meals and snacks, so that I can easily come up with a menu plan when I’m ready to go grocery shopping.  Until I implemented the “spreadsheet”,  it never failed that on Thursdays, when I made out our menu plan for the following week, I would stare dumbly at my calendar and wonder what to make.  Which, more often than not, meant that I would either make the same 6 meals over and over again, or I would go to the store without a plan…a very dangerous and expensive way to grocery shop.

Now, I have a :”spreadsheet” on my fridge with these headings at the top of each column:

  • chicken
  • beef
  • vegetarian/seafood
  • soups/casseroles
  • lunches
  • side dishes
  • snacks

Under each heading, I leave blank rows with enough room to write the name of our favorite recipes.  The “chicken” category, for example, has such recipes as Roasted Chicken, Amish Baked Chicken, Cheesy Chicken Chimichangas and Chicken Cacciatore.  Now, we come to the problem of such meals as chicken pot pie. “Chicken” category or “casserole” category? Answer: WHO CARES??  Don’t get totally OCD about this project but make it work for you!  You can nix the “soup/casserole” category and simply list those menus under the meat or veggie categories.  Seriously, this is not rocket science nor is it meant to stress you out as you start to categorize your meals. If you’re a visual learner, like me, this is meant to be a TOOL, not another reason to take blood pressure meds.

A lot of people love their homemaking binder, which is a brilliant idea and a wonderful way to keep your self organized.

I just can’t do it.

I’ve tried and failed and come back to it and then forgotten about it.  If it works for you, then by all means, I envy your approach and think it’s fantastic and admirable.  Alas, I stick to my day planner and my “spreadsheet’, because I know it works for me.

What method do you use to keep yourself organized in the kitchen?

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This post was linked to Traditional Tuesdays at Cooking TF, Fat Tuesday at Real Food Forager, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable, Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly The Kitchen Kop, WLWW at Women Living Well, Whole Food Wednesdays Recipe Swap at Whole Lifestyle Nutrition, It’s a Keeper Thursday at Every Day Tastes, Simple Lives Thursday at Gnowfglins, Your Green Resource at Live Renewed, Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, Welcome Home Link up at Raising Arrows, Better Mom Monday’s Link Up at The Better Mom, Seasonal Celebrations at The Natural Mother’s Network, Sunday School Blog Carnival at Butter Believer

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8 Responses to “Meal Plan Organization For Visual Learners”
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  1. One more thing you might want to add to your list, I mean spreadsheet, is which recipe book the recipe is in as well as the page number. This will save lots of time and more importantly your sanity when it’s time to make your grocery list or supper. The other thing I have been known to do is write the name of a favorite recipe and the page number on the outside of the cookbook. This is especially nice for things you only make occasionally and all you can remember is that it is in the yellow cookbook, but not which yellow cookbook!

  2. I came across a few of my attempts at organization as I was packing up for our move to Alaska! Random pieces of paper with lists – definitely lists. I’ve been going over in my mind how I can be a better homemaker in our next home. Thanks for the ideas here!

  3. Nikki

    I’m relatively new to menu planning and so am working on my “system”. I was doing pretty well for a while but then made a major shift in our eating habits (for the better) and struggled to get it together. I’ve gotten back into it now…I have a purple binder (my favorite color — I’m also VERY visual) that I keep our fav recipes complete with notes I’ve made for alterations, suggestions for next time, etc. My binder has tabs, but still contains some “bad” recipes and MANY, MANY unfilled recipes that I’ve found that I wanna try. It seriously needs some organization, but until a get a good collection of fav recipes, I probably won’t.

    When I’m putting together my menu, I pull out the binder and flip through the recipes for the things I want to include. I pull those out and leave them loose in the front of my binder (if it had a pocket, I’d put it in the pocket. In my binder, I also include a list of the contents of my freezer so I know what I can pull from there and what I need to get at the grocery store. Now the challenge is keeping up with the freezer list. I was considering today the best way to keep up with it.

  4. Kathy

    Way to figure out what works best for you. I’d love to have you link this up to Titus 2 Tuesday this week on Cornerstone Confessions..

    Hopping over from Women Living Well.

    Kathy

  5. I have used a system that basically means spaghetti on Monday, chicken thighs on Tuesday, ground beef on Wednesday etc.
    I wanted to start planning breakfasts and lunch/snack as well though to make sure that I am planning in enough fruits/vegetables on a daily basis. I saw this amazing menu planner on Pinterest a couple days ago and I’m on a mission to hunt down supplies (thinking I might get my crafy mother on board to make it for me!). I’m going to make a board for each meal of the day. It will be a lot of work up front but I know that it will be worth it. SInce you are visual, you may like it too:
    http://pinterest.com/pin/249598004318581064/
    The only change is that I would use a cookie sheet and magnets because I’m not big on the clothes pins.

  6. This is an excellent system for us busy mothers that I feel I can implement. Up to now, I have been unable to be consistent with any kitchen organisation. This, on the other hand looks achievable!!

  7. Angela Andrews

    Hi Kelsi,
    I love your suggestion for visual learners! It’s awesome! I needed help so I googled “recipe organization for visual learners” and found your idea! I think I will use your idea incorporating tiny images of the recipe on the list – to help my son pick out what he wants for dinner too!

    ~Angela Andrews

  8. I used to have a really fun calendar and check list that I mounted in a picture frame and used dry erase markers so that I wouldn’t have to print it every week or month depending on the one… I LOVED IT!
    Now I don’t have the wall space, and my oh so decorative 5th wheel fridge has wood paneling on it so no place for magnets either. So I adapted and now keep a tiny lined paper notebook in my purse. Each week I list the days of the week and determine what meals need to be made in the crock pot and then figure out my meals from previous lists and from my little tin recipe holder. I love my very old Betty Crocker cook book but only open it when I want to make a desert from it. Otherwise I always use my tin holder which is organized much like your spreadsheet and only holds recipes my family likes so I know they will all be winners and I can just pick one out and shop for what ingredients are not already in my cupboard.
    And by the way…. isn’t a spreadsheet just a more organized and grown up version of a list?