Healthy Family Eating= Planning (part 2)

I posted several weeks ago about my process to get my family eating healthy and some tools I’ve found helpful. You can read about it all here. I’ve had several follow up conversations with people about this blog post asking more detailed questions on how I more specifically organized meal planning. I’ve heard the same resounding theme from these conversations… HELP.

And this rings true with what I’ve found about meal planning…

It’s a lot of work man.

1st there’s the recipes. From Facebook to  to Instagram to magazines. I’m always marking things I want to make. Do you know what I find? I make about ¼ of them. AND then…only about ¼ of the ones I make are actually good and everyone likes them. But I digress– Once I make a plan of what to make for dinners then there are breakfasts and lunches to plan and all the grocery shopping– it’s all a bit overwhelming.

Insert meal binder.

I got fed up with this process a few months ago and created a family meal binder. It consists of a 3 ring binder, divider tabs, and clear sheet protectors (all available at staples or whatever office store you like). I used the divider tabs for each section and named them: Chicken/Fish, Beef/Pork, Turkey, Vegetarian, Other (you can create whatever tabs work for you). Then I ripped out, printed out and placed all the recipes I wanted in each sheet protector. I went on every pin and printed out each one we would actually eat. And then I literally threw away a bunch of cookbooks that have been sitting in my kitchen for years.

Our meal binder looks like this:


Items needed again: 3 ring binder, divider tabs, sheet protectors and your recipes.

Now I’m not very OCD. I have friends who would type them and print them out in the same format. I just don’t care – I wanted something functional and that wasn’t going to take me a lot of time to complete. Having four kids, I’ve kinda learned to live like this. Good enough takes place of perfection many days. The important things to me were having a plan for food, pulling together healthy recipes we like and speeding up the shopping process.

After completing the divider tabs and inserting recipes, what makes this binder functional is creating a master dinner/recipe list in the front of the book. I simply opened excel and made a section for each tab in my binder and then wrote the title of each recipe.


Chicken & basil
Chicken sausage and pepper (no recipe)
Pecan chicken
Fish sticks
Honey lime shrimp
Honey lime pork tenderloin


I even typed in meals that I don’t have recipe’s for and wrote (no recipe). I also typed out a list of sides and vegetable ideas. Then I also typed out a full lunch list of meals my kids actually eat. This is mostly packed lunches because we are not a homeschool family. This really helps with meal planning when sometimes I am NOT inspired. Gasp! Does anyone else get this way? Why do these people want to eat everyday??? Sometimes I just need to just pick something and get the whole process over with. I also threw in a sheet for my binder called House staples list and I put in all of our normal house items that I need in addition to groceries. Let me tell you, having this binder has greatly increased my productivity and stress level with this entire process!

Here’s my organizational sheets- nothing fancy:


Here’s a question you may be asking: why didn’t you do this digitally?

I have a few reasons for this… First of all, I don’t like cooking from a recipe on my computer or phone. I like to have it in hand. Second, I do have the master meal lists on my phone and have a grocery shopping app I use but I find in general that its easier to sit with the binder in hand and add items onto my list app or a paper list for the grocery store. It’s easier to pull my binder out and cook a recipe together versus accessing it on my phone or computer. I also like the break from the digital world to using my hands and paper. Call my a {ahem} 30 something old soul crazy but its marvelous.


To help inspire organizing family meals for the home…. whoever shares this post via Facebook I will enter into a drawing to win a complete meal planning kit package. This will include a fancy 3 ring binder (It’ll be pretty), divider tabs, sheet protectors and my top 10 recipes printed. I’ll also send printed copies of my lists for you as paper examples.

So start sharing and more importantly, start your plan to get your family meals organized! Here’s a few recipes to inspire your journey:

Chicken: Chicken Basil

Fish: Crispy Fish sticks

Pork: Honey Lime Pork tenderloin

Beef: Crockpot Italian Beef and veggies

Turkey: Mexican Zucchini Burrito boats

Vegetarian: Eggplant Spaghetti & Mozzarella (I use spaghetti squash)


Best~ Autumn

  • Laura Thomas
    Posted at 23:22h, 26 September Reply

    this is golden! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and tips for meal planning!

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