What's for dinner??

Agghhhhh, the dreaded question!!! Is it just me or is between 5 and 6 at your house the absolute hardest time of the day? The kids are hungry and grumpy, I am so ready for my husband to get home and I need to figure out what everyone is going to eat.

This has always been a big challenge for me. The whole meal planning thing just felt so overwhelming to me, the grocery lists, the actual shopping, finding the recipes, etc! Well ladies and gentleman, I think I finally figured it out! (Or figured out something that works for me at least!) I thought I would share what works for me in the hopes that you will do the same! I would love to hear what works for you and your family. The way I look at it is this: I chose my "job". I plan on doing it for many, many more years, and just like any job the more organized and planned you are the better you perform your "job". I chose to be a stay at home mom, and so I try to do my job to the best of my ability, wether its cooking, cleaning, teaching, organizing, etc. That doesn't mean its going to be as good as everyone else, their best may be better than mine, but as long as I'm always trying to improve I feel pretty good about it :) So here is my attempt at organizing our meals better :)

This is where the magic happens!! (Isn't that what they always say on MTV Cribs when they show the bedroom....ewwww:)
This is where my meal planning all come together. Here's how it works:
First I went through all my recipe books (yes, it took forever) and picked out the tried and true, the recipes I can make well that everyone loves. After I found them all I spent one whole day typing them up and pasting them on to cute 4x6 scrapbook paper:) Then I used my handy dandy laminator (I HIGHLY recommend getting your own, even if its a cheapie like mine) and went to work. I LOVE having them laminated because frankly, I am a very messy cook. By the end my recipes are usually covered in whatever I am attempting to make, so its nice to just be able to wipe them off when I'm done.

Once a week I try a new recipe that is not from my cards. If it makes the cut I type it up and add it to the box :)

Usually on Sunday night I pull all the recipes I want for that week and make my grocery list of off them. Then I plan what day we will be having what and write it on this excel spreadsheet I made. I KNOW I saw the idea for this spreadsheet on someones blog, so if its you, please claim this great idea!! I love this because I can look at it and in a moments notice see if I need to be thawing anything, if its a crockpot meal that needs to be started earlier in the day, etc.

Finally I have this cute magnet board I found at the Quilted Bear that I stick my recipe on while I am a-cooking away! It is SO lovely to not have to lug around a big cookbook, or a million loose sheets of paper.

Well, thats it! :) Like I said, its a system that works for us! I would love to hear your great ideas on how you organize your meals, please feel free to share :)



What a fun idea! I actually have that exact same "recipe" box sitting right next to me on my desk... empty. I think I just figured out what to do with it! Thanks!

The Rissa and Alex Family

Excellent idea! I am going to try it out. The laminating is the best. My recipe cards are hard to read because they are all messy. :) thanks for the good ideas!

Steven & Becky Heumann

I REALLY need to orginize my recipes. I'm pretty good at the meal planning things but now I have a lot more ideas to help make it even better! LOVE the magnet board idea!

Jenny P

Tonii, you are awesome!!! You need a raise and a promotion at your job!

Karlee Turner

Great idea as usual! I actually just decided to take on the daunting project of typing all my recipes, because I, like you, am such a messy cook! The problem...I have only gotten through like 10 recipes! I just need to suck it up and give myself a deadline.


Oh Tonii, you are a true inspiration to all! I have had a couple of ideas for that dreaded moment of searching through the pantry figuring out which amazing meal I can do! I have never put them to action as you have! Thanks for the idea! You are amazing!

Kim Milius

Very cute stuff! I just found your blog and am enjoying it! Very cute stuff -- I think "cute" makes chores more fun! I use a binder with my recipes in sheet protectors so they can be wiped off easily. I make out a list of dinners for the week, but you've inspired me to take it a step further and assign them to a specific day as well as to plan out lunches & breakfast.

Chanty Cling

I have a three ring binder with page protectors with all of my recipes and I have a list of all of the menu items that I have made so far that have been a hit. I make my menu for the month, and while doing so I let my kids each pick out a dinner item for each week. Then they get more excited about dinner. It works great for us.


Love it!!! What a great system. Oh and my favorite color is green so it is simply perfect!


Love it!!! I am totally stealing your weekly schedule! :)

My system is almost identical to yours, but has 2 tweaks. First - instead of laminating cards, I got a stand-up clear acrylic photo holder. I just slip the recipe card in before I start dinner...not only does it save a lot of $$ on lamination, but I can also move the holder around the kitchen while I'm cooking, which is nice. Second - I have a 3-ring binder for meal planning, divided up into meal sections (ie, breakfast, lunch, snacks, desserts, etc). In each section, I have notebook paper where I list all my favorite recipes, by title only. Next to the title I put the location - if it's a book, the book title and page number. If it's a loose recipe (ie, magazine or one my mom handed down), then I put it in a page protector in that section and add "B" for binder next to the recipe title. So when I meal plan, I don't need ALL my recipes - just that one binder. And it makes it super simple to plan based on ingredients as well - like if I'm roasting chicken one night, I can easily scan down my list to find another recipe that uses chicken for leftovers.

I'm just the MOM

GREAT idea! I so want to become a better and more organized meal preparer. lol this will definitely help!


Did you save your typed up recipes? Would you share? It would be great to have some new tried and true recipes.


Wonderful tips!! Lately, I've been pinning loads of recipes. I need to get them all organized in a box after I try them out.

Kristine @ JandMs Eye Candy

I can totally relate!! Love your tips and will be implementing them into our family meals. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks for linking it up to “Help a Momma Out Tuesdays” on our blog!! We will be featuring this awesome idea in our Friday Features post! Feel free to pop on over, grab a featured button, and get your brag on :) Thanks again!