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If you don’t have a set of go-to yummy recipes, meal planning can be a drag. Not only that, but trying to look at all your cookbooks and pinterest every time you are trying to put together a meal plan is a recipe (pun intended) for complete inefficiency.
The question then, is, how do you put together an awesome meal plan quickly and easily every time?
Well I thought you’d never ask!
Enter: the personal cookbook!
Your personal cookbook is a collection of your family’s absolute favorite recipes in one single place. When you go to plan meals you will refer to this cookbook. When you are preparing big holiday meals you will go to this cookbook. When you are hungry just because you will go to this cookbook.
It is your meal planning bible.
I started my personal cookbook when Ted and I first started dating in 2012 and were kinda poor. It was a way for me to stay organized and make sure I always had a way to use what we had on hand.
But this bad boy has grown and become so valuable as our lives have gotten busier and we’ve increased the number of mouths we have to feed.
Seriously, I can’t imagine my life without it. It’s that good.
So here we go: I’m going to give you the tips and tools you need on how to organize recipes and meal plans with your own personal cookbook!
1-) Choose a medium
You’ll need to choose whether your cookbook exists electronically or physically, or both. However, if you only choose one though, I recommend electronically. Here’s why:
- You can easily copy and paste links from your favorite online recipes to instantly “save” them
- You can use it as your shopping list if you’re shopping without a meal plan (this is huge!)
I started with Evernote and still use it to this day! It’s easy to use and organize. Importantly, it’s also cloud-based so I can sync it between devices.
2-) Always note the important info
So the advantage to having a personal cookbook is that you can write and update any info that’s pertinent to your tastes and lifestyle. I put a “notes” section at the bottom of every recipe. Here’s some of the types of notes you’ll find helpful:
- where the recipe came from (link or cookbook and page number)
- substitutions you’ve tried and how they worked
- ideas to improve the recipe next time
- how much time and level of difficulty for the recipe
- how much to scale the recipe for your family size
3-) Choose your standards
One thing you’ll want to decide on right away is what will the standards be for a recipe to earn a spot in your personal cookbook. Will you only add it if it gets raving reviews from the whole family? Or will you add it even if it’s not perfect but has potential? Will you only add recipes that are under 30 minutes? Think about how you cook and set a standard so it remains easy to use.
4-) Keep trying new recipes
Here’s the thing…your cookbook will never be “complete.” It’s a constant work in progress so that you’re never bored. But it will always be there for you when you’re rushing to the grocery store or planning a big gathering.
So whether you try new recipes three times a week or once a month, keep exploring and thinking about what might be good to add to your cookbook!
5-) Use it!
It sounds obvious, but the best way to make your cookbook work for you is to actually use it and keep improving it. And as you build your recipe archive you’ll find that meal planning gets easier and more fun!
One last note: there is a bit of a time investment to get this started. But it’s oh so worth it! Take an afternoon, go through your cookbooks and pinterest boards and start collecting them in your new designated cookbook!
And here’s a recipe from my cookbook to get you started:
Imperial Chicken Recipe
I’m not sure where this recipe originally came from, but it’s been in my family for years! It was a childhood favorite of mine growing up, and it’s become one of Ted’s favorites too! It also suits those who don’t enjoy international flavors quite as much and prefer a hearty American meal. Enjoy!
- 1/2 pint sour cream
- 2 TB lemon juice
- 1 tsp celery salt or celery seed (I normally use less)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 C butter or margarine
- unprepared stuffing (we use pepperidge farm herb stuffing)
- chicken breasts, pounded flat
- Preheat oven to 375 F
- Mix together first six ingredients to make dressing. Coat chicken in the dressing then dip chicken in the stuffing (make sure you you get the stuffing all over the chicken!).
- Roll chicken up and place into a baking dish. Melt butter or margarine and pour over chicken.
- Bake chicken ~50 minutes uncovered until chicken is cooked through.
So there you go! That’s how to organize recipes and meal plans with a personal cookbook. And a recipe to get you started!
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