YOU In Bloom (Week Two, Day Four)

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INTRODUCING…

THE 30 MEALS PLAN!

Guest post written by littlenannygoat.blogspot.com. Thanks for sharing your great idea with us!

Okay, this is so simple and yet SO BRILLIANT!

The idea is to find 30 meals that your family loves MOST and compile those meals/recipes so that they are easy to access. Then make a master list of all the ingredients you would need for all of those meals, so you can keep your cupboards (and food storage) stocked! On any given night you can pick a meal and whip it up in a jiffy or plan a week/month at a time… easy peasy!

The beauty of this is that you still have a great variety and you can shop the sales, stock up on those ingredients, and make less trips to the store! This in turn saves lots of time and $$$$! Plus, no kiddos complaining, “This is disgusting”… you can now make everyone happy and get the kiddos involved in planning the 30 meals!

STEP 1:

If you’re like me then you use a lot of the same recipes over and over again. I have several cookbooks and an over-flowing recipe box, but honestly I make maybe 15 of those recipes on a regular basis. So the first step is to step out of your comfort zone and find 30 recipes your family LOVES. Experiment with some new recipes and make it a fun project! I obviously picked all 15 of our “standard recipes”. Plus, we’ve been trying out new recipes regularly to start building our 30 meals.

Every night, after dinner, we go around the table and vote on whether or not we should add this to our 30 days of meals.

STEP 2:

Put your recipes/meals on individual cards. Even if you don’t have ALL 30 of your recipes picked out yet (it may take awhile to find 30 meals you LOVE) go ahead and start copying the ones you have onto individual cards.

There are several ways you can do this, but I wanted to have them on my computer, so that I could reprint the cards and easily email them to friends and family. I found these free recipe card templates here. You could also use a word processor and print them on your printer or even hand write them onto index cards.

This is what our cards look like– and by the way, if you love Cafe Rio Sweet Pork, you should totally make this recipe! It’s awesome!

After we printed them, we laminated each card.

Then we punched a hole in the top left corner and put all of the recipes on a ring.

At the beginning of the week we can pick the meals we want to make for that week and stick them on the fridge in a cute little holder we made!

STEP 3:

Master Ingredient List

This step is why I wanted to do the 30 meal plan in the first place… it just makes sense!

It’s great to have all of my recipes compiled, laminated, and ready to go, but I can’t make any of those yummy recipes without ALL the ingredients…

Melissa and I thought and thought about how to do our MASTER INGREDIENT LIST we proposed this and that, but then it hit us and here it is…

I used Microsoft Excel to make this lovely table (this is just a piece of my table) with the names of the meals on the left and ALL of the ingredients needed to make those 30 meals across the top. I separated the ingredients into sections to make it easier for shopping, i.e. meats/proteins, carbs, dairy, veggies, spices, etc. I think I will go back and alphabetize those sections to make it even easier.

The beauty of this is you can see EVERYTHING you need (and how much) at a glance.

Also, if you are at home looking in your fridge and thinking you need to cook up the chicken ( or veggies, etc) before they go bad, you can just pick up your Master List and check out the chicken column to see which meals you could make to use that chicken quick.

STEP 4:

Okay my “30 meals” friends, I hope you are working on your 30 meals and your master ingredients list and hopefully you are starting to reap the rewards of all of your hard work.

I know I am and I am seriously LOVING IT!
So, this is the final step….
Create a Binder to keep yourself organized. Inside my binder I have several sheet protectors which I am using as pockets. I just took a sharpie (because I’m fancy like that) and wrote on the front of each of the sheet protectors. This is what I have so far:
1. Recipes to add to my 30 meals. (btw your 30 meals may eventually be 34 meals… nothing wrong with that).
2. Recipes I want to try. Now, don’t put just any recipe in here! You worked hard to simplify, so don’t go making things crazy again. But, if your bff goes on and on about a meal that her family gobbled up with lots of “mmmmmm”, and “yummy”, and “mom you are the best cook ever!” then you should definitely add that recipe to this pocket and try it out.
3. Special Occasion Recipes. In this pocket, you would put special recipes you make just a few times a year (ex. Holidays, summer salads, winter soups etc.)
4. Side dishes. Eventually I will type these up and put them on their own ring, but for now my funeral potatoes and vegetable recipes etc. will be found in this pocket.
5. Desserts. Again, eventually I will take all of my FAVORITE desserts and type them up and add them to their own ring (might need 2 or 3 rings, lol), but for now they go in this pocket.
6. Breads/ Appetizers/ drinks
7. Other Recipes. This pocket is for those recipes that didn’t make it to the top 30, maybe the kids nixed it– but the adults loved it.

The beautiful thing is once I’ve gone through all my recipes and divided them among the pockets, I can finally THROW AWAY all of those recipes that are crowding up my cupboards! Yay!

(If you want to print off this cover page for your binder, just download it here.)
**For the original nannygoat 30 Meals posts check them out here!
Join The Discussion

Comments 88

  1. Leah

    So cute. Great idea! I’m in.

  2. Kari

    I like it!!!!!

  3. Lori

    When I make a new recipe, I have my family rate it on a 1 to 5 and therefore I know who liked it and how much.

  4. Cyndi

    Great ideas! How do you make the fridge recipe holder? I totally want one!!!

  5. stacy

    Yo colin you should add a receipe tab so we can put up what we all cook and tell others about them.. My mother has a sH*( load of cookbooks it drives me nuts… Ill suggest this to her!! and Im gonna try the pork receipe! yummy!

  6. Danielle

    Super idea!

  7. Michelle

    I LOVE this program, and so does my husband!!! I have cooked more in the past several months than I did all last year, and all the meals are spaced out so it doesn’t feel like we just ate it. Its so great to be able to stock up on things (like pasta sauce at 62 cents a jar and tortillas at 25 cents a package, yeah!!) knowing I will use them in the upcoming months! It did take a little while and a little work to put together, and I really liked the recipe card holder for the fridge, so that was the first thing I did, haha, but I don’t regret it one bit. I use it every week. Once it was all put together and laminated, dinner was a breeze! You can even combine this with freezer cooking to make it even easier. I always make enough lasagna and enchiladas for two meals, so I freeze them and the next month, prep is a breeze for those dinner nights! Thanks nannygoat!

    • Betsy

      That is a great idea to make two so that next month all you have to do is cook! Perfect!

  8. Jeannie U.

    I’m in, sounds great, but would you please provide a editorial for dummies (like me lol), on how to make the fridge hanger thingy. Thanks

  9. Amber S.

    This is a great idea!!! My mother has a book of recipes and I have started my own, but the excel sheet would make things so much easier when buying groceries and looking for items to cook up quick.

    When we rate new recipes we write in the cookbook fair, good, or excellent so when we go back we know which ones we liked the best and can cook them up or copy it and save for later.

    • Donna

      Ah, Amber, you don’t use the one rating I have throughout my cookbooks….YUCK! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. terri

    What a great idea, am going to start organizing tonight.

  11. Margie

    Wow, this makes planning dinners so easy and quick! Thanks for the resources and info. Collin.

  12. Trish

    I REALLY need to do this! Somebody motivate me LOL ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Stacy

    wonderful idea! i am so doing this:)

  14. Dwagnfly

    This would make a great gift for your child when they get married or move out of the house. They’ll have their families recipes all in one place.

    • Margie

      wow, what a great idea. my brother is going to be getting married soon. what a great little gift from sister-in-law to sister-in-law!

    • Taci

      Awesome idea! My little sister is getting married and this would be so fun to put together with my mom!

    • marcia

      I was going to say that! I was also going to say… Several years ago i did a scrapbooking swap for recipes, so i have a album of recipes, scrapbooked :-P. To do that you can just take a 3 ring binder, 30 page protectors, 3 colored sheets of cardstock, put in the recipes and decorate each page with somehting as simple as border stickers , more if you are into scrapbooking, but it takes nearly nothing and makes a great gift and is a fun, creative AND useful thing ๐Ÿ™‚

      Our oldest is graduating next month, maybe I’ll make him one, with good but super simple recipes ๐Ÿ™‚

      oh and nanny goat and Collin, Thanks for sharing!!!!

      • Donna

        A few years ago for Christmas gifts for both sides of our families and for some friends, I made “Cooking in the Crockpot” recipe binders. I made decorated divider pages and then since I typed all the recipes in the computer, I just used Microsoft Clipart from the web to decorate the pages or add divider lines. I put the pages in page protectors, added tabs with the name of the section, and made a cover to slip in the front (the binder I used had a place on the front to hold a full-size sheet of paper. Cost a little more but I watched for them to go on sale) Most recipes were tried and true but other weren’t, so I put a small card in the front pocket so they knew this! This gift was such a hit—I even had sisters-in-law from Canada calling me asking for a copy. I have given several of these “cookbooks” with a crockpot for wedding gifts for brides that I know.

  15. Lauren

    Great idea and that is so adorable! I was actually thinking of compiling a cookbook for my brother and his fiancee when they get married, but this is really cool and the cards can be wiped off if food gets on them!

  16. Carla

    I LOVE IT! Thank you! Can’t wait to delve into this project. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Shelley

    I love this idea. I’ve been looking for some ideas to make meal planning easier and I think this is it. I have a very disorganized recipe drawer and can’t wait to start narrowing it down to our favorites. Thanks Collin!

  18. mamabear

    soooo cute!

  19. karen

    Genius!

  20. Tilla

    very cute idea, but im’ a terrible cook, hate trying new things, and our comfort zone of dinners is less than 5 recipes. which usually consist of something processed and pre made, so i need someone elses 30 EASY FAST TASTY recipes:)

    • MommySpendsLess

      I’m in exactly the same boat! I LOVE this idea because it seems like unless I look for recipes and make a meal plan and shopping list all at once (which was a lot easier when I had an office job) then we end up with the same 2-3 options every night…usually simple things that use ground beef as the meat like spaghetti or tacos. When I ask DH what he wants for dinner, 90% of the time he says steak, which isn’t budget friendly.

      Back when I was organized, I started a list of meals we like for when I was totally stuck writing that week’s plan, and I included even the basics – “fancy” sandwiches (crusty deli bread, several kinds of meat/cheese), breakfast for dinner, soup and grilled cheese sandwichs etc. Maybe you could start off with even the super simple suppers included and gradually switch them out as you discover new favorites.

  21. Candice B.

    Thank You! I would have never thought of this!

  22. Mary

    I love this idea. When you print it out should you use a thicker paper like a card paper and then laminate it?

  23. Crystal

    I love this idea! I can’t wait to try it!!

  24. Lori

    If you enter your recipes on Allrecipes.com and put them in your online recipe box, then when you need to make a shopping list you just select the recipes to add to your list and it creates an organized list of all your ingredients. It’s pretty cool. Now they just need to create links from all the ingredients to the coupons that are available for that product. That might be too good to be true. Has anyone found a site that does all of that?

    • jen

      I love allrecipes because it lets me see what other readers commented about the recipes and often many readers will have the same suggestions to alter a recipe. I have never looked into entering recipes for the shopping list thing though. That sounds great. I’ll have to check that out.

      • julie

        love all recipes… its a great website and i get a ton of great recipes from there!

      • Jenn

        I love it too. I like the ingredient search. I use it when I realize I went overboard on a bargain ingredient and need to start using it up! I also love the rating system and other cooks comments. I use it more than my shelf full of cookbooks. It is so much easier.

    • Elizabeth

      The Fair Hope Foodie puts up a weekly meal plan using the grocery deals for the week or pulling items from her stockpile. For the recipes she posts, she adds information for available coupons when available. check it out here…

      .https://www.fairhopefoodie.com/2010/05/menu-512.html

  25. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    I have the binder with plastic covers that I started it back in the early 90’s….it’s invaluable!

  26. Catrina

    Hey Colin… would you mind emailing me your pork recipe there so I can print it out? It looks awesome, but I can’t copy or paste it. Would REALLY appreciate it!

  27. jen

    Boy you have some ambitious readers. I love to cook, but I think I would struggle finding 30 recipes that EVERYONE agrees on. I should say, I love to cook simple recipes. More than 10 ingredients and I’m running for the hills. Anything crockpot and cream of mushroom won’t fly here. I LOVE to share recipes that people have tried and love, I know they won’t all appeal to my family, but I do love sifting through them and even if I come up with only two new one’s it was an adventure worth my while! Love the idea of stocking my pantry with ingredients for our favorites. I’m going to have to start organizing some recipes now! Thanks for the tip.

  28. Elise McClelland

    yes! can you share how you made the recipe fridge holder please??? it’s adorable!

  29. holly

    You should check out a company called Mimeo.com, they are a printing company and really easy to use. You can upload all your files and they will print, bind and deliver them. When you first sign up they give you 50% off your first order (i have signed up a few times under different emails) I even used them to laminate some things. Check them out…pretty cool!

  30. CASSANDRA

    LOVE this! Got the hubby (who does all the cooking) on board, too!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  31. Kalyn

    SUCH a cute idea! Loving the you in bloom series-keep the awesome ideas coming! ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. Robin

    love it!

  33. Christina Wedding

    We have been doing this for awhile now and I have 10 family favorites typed up. Will you share your 15 favorite recipes with us??? Would love to add some new favs to our collection. Thank you

  34. Lynne

    I am so excited about this – this is a new craft for our MOPS(Mothers of preschoolers) group for next year. I plan the creative activities and I think that everyone would love this idea. I am loving it for my self.

  35. Brandy

    I like this idea a lot. One problem for me is that I seriously don’t think I can find 30 recipes that everyone in my family loves. After many years there are still only 2 that everyone in the family is pleased with and one is tacos. (and really I’m kinda burned out on them!) Another problem I have is that if I always fix something that everyone loves, then my children don’t get in the habit of trying new things and eventually loving them too. Which is what I’m hoping will happen with some of the things I currently cook. When I was a kid I hated okra, pancakes, cake, mustard, and cooked carrots (among other things). But I love these things so much now because my mama kept making them for me and kept making me try them because she knew my taste buds would eventually change to like other things. Though, I do really like the idea of the having everything so organized and planned out. I’m sure I can figure out something that will work for me. What a great idea Collin! Thanks for sharing.

  36. holli

    ok, I too would love to see your recipes!!!! Thirty is a ton! I would be lucky to find 10 that my family likes.

  37. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    Wow today i actually made for the first time for my family chicken parmessan awsome food n yes im on my way to doing some new recipes cuz im gettin tired eating rice(since we hispanic thats our food) evryday………

  38. Priscilla

    The recipe calls for 3/4 bottle of salsa. What size of a bottle? We are a family of 8 so, the bottle of salsa we have is probably larger than the size this recipe calls for. Help, please specify…thanks in advance!

    • Carol

      I wondered the same thing so went on an online search for this recipe. There are SO many variations of it but after looking at dozens of them I only found one other one that mentioned taco seasoning. Most were made with Coke or Dr. Pepper and enchilada sauce. This one still sounds better to me if I can get the proportions right. Would also like to know how many pounds of meat.

  39. AJ

    nifty idea…i will be stealing it and sharing with all my friends thanks!

  40. Kim M.

    I’ve been trying to find a month’s worth of meals that my kids will actually eat for SIX MONTHS now! It’s impossible! My kids are so dang picky. Something they LOVE one week, they won’t touch a few weeks later. My new rule is that my husband, myself, and at least one (out of three) kid must like the recipe more than once. That’s how I know it’s a keeper. This seems like a simple idea, but for my family it has NOT been! SOMEDAY I vow I will have my 30 recipes!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Tilla

      i have 4 children..2 are incredibly picky, 2 will eat anything. I will eat anything (within reason), hub is incredibly picky. It’s a royal pain in my big bootie, since I hate cooking anyway. Usually we revert to cereal, or tacos, or hot pockets because only 2 or 3 people would eat what I cooked. It’s so frustrating, it leads me to say ahhh why bother.

  41. Nicole

    I really love this idea. I have the hardest time coming up with what to eat and this would solve my problem.

  42. Sandy

    I am here to tell you this works! I compiled a list of recipes and created my “Master Grocery list” a number of years ago except, I divided my entree recipes into two categories Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. That way I can rotate the meals we like and use food that is seasonal to keep costs down. I do like to try new recipes too so, I just add a recipe in as I like.

    • Krista

      What a brilliant idea to rotate the recipes by season! I’ve never thought of that!

  43. Rett

    OMG, please please please share your recipes. I am cooking retarded. Sure I have a few good ones, but over all I am a thirty min or less cook or take out HELP me turn over a new leaf. SOS !!!!

  44. Shelly

    You have to have that Cafe Rio Pork with this dressing…

    Cilantro Tomatillo Dressing

    4 Tomatillos (throw away the outer peel and quarter)
    1/2 Cup Mayo, not Miracle whip
    1/2 Cup Milk
    1 Packet Ranch Dressing mix
    1 bunch of cilantro, washed and stems discarded
    1 Lime (Juice)

    Blend all ingredients (except lime) in a blender and let thicken in the fridge.

    It is AMAZING!!

    LOVE your site Colin! Keep up the good work!

  45. Morganne

    awesome idea:-) Been trying to think of “something” and this pretty much summed up what I wanted to do …just couldn’t visualize it:-) lol

  46. Sherri

    All I can say is WOW! so thoughtful!

  47. Barbie

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea! I think I’ll make this a summer project.

  48. Jill

    Awesome idea! My little girl right now eats pretty much only peanut butter and honey or jam sandwiches. Can I just have 30 of those recipe cards? PB&Strawberry Jam. PB & Blackberry Jam. PB & Honey. Etc. Etc. Ha ha!

    • Krista

      LOL! This is too funny!

    • Tilla

      and can i get 30 variations of mac n cheese haha

  49. Renee

    I love this idea!!! Gotta do it!!

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