Meal Prep For Beginners: Meal Prep Made Easy for the Workweek

Meal prep for beginners can feel overwhelming, especially if you're not following a specific diet but are doing it because it's such an amazing time saver! I chatted with Danielle from Project Meal Plan all about how you can make meal prep easy for the workweek. Meal prep for beginners can feel overwhelming, especially if you're not following a specific diet but are doing it because it's such an amazing time saver! I chatted with Danielle from Project Meal Plan all about how you can make meal prep easy for the workweek.

Listen up, working parents: today, I’m all about meal prep made easy, and why utilizing this “trick” can save you a ton of time during the workweek. 

Last month I got the chance to chat with Danielle over at Project Meal Plan, where she shares easy meal plans, simple weeknight recipes, and banging ideas for meal prep made easy throughout the week (She has a guide for Adult Lunchables, people. Adult. Lunchables. #genius).

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I was on vacation with my kids at the time and she super graciously navigated our Skype talk through whining, spills, fighting, and a glass breaking in the background, plus the pause to clean that disaster up.

But through it all she dropped some major knowledge on how she discovered the simplicity of meal prep made easy, why it’s so important for maintaining sanity throughout the week and staying close to what you’ve meal planned, and what she does when it all goes out the window on a busy day.

(our conversation has been edited a bit for clarity and for aforementioned pauses to clean up spilled milk)

Me: Hi Danielle! So talk to me about how you got into meal planning and prep as a weekly thing.

Danielle: A few years ago, I was working at a rehabilitation job and every day we had about 30 minutes for lunch. It wasn’t quite enough time to go to a restaurant, and I hated wasting time on my break, so I started getting into meal planning to make the best use of that time.  Meal planning and meal prep meant that I didn’t have to leave the office to eat, I got my whole lunch break, which was great.

At the time I just started off slow; I’d bring a chicken breast and maybe a little salad, which was good. But I started to get tired of that, so I began looking into other things I could prep and plan on the weekend, and it took off from there.

And then about two years ago, I started my blog, where I began sharing my meal plans for that week. I’d make the whole meal plan, share that with my readers, and while it was fun, it was a lot of work. So I started breaking down how I meal prepped instead, and it kind of evolved from there.  

Ruthy: You started feeling like you were meal planning for the blog instead of your life. So you flipped it.

Danielle: Totally. So I started focusing on the meal itself and sharing how people could put these recipes into their meal plans and see if it traveled well. And it became the whole thing, how to prep for all meals, including dessert.

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Ruthy: So do you do mostly bulk prep? Or more day by day, a little prep each day?

Danielle: I used to do bulk prepping, but then I moved more to day by day for photography purposes for the blog. I typically do recipe testing during the week and then prepping for our own household meals on Sundays.  

Ruthy: How and where do you get your ideas for recipes testing? And how does that usually fit into the meal prepping portion?

Danielle: That’s a good question. I do my meal plan on Fridays for the week ahead.

I always start by looking at what I actually have. We don’t follow a specific diet, with the exception that I don’t eat red meat, but we do stick to more produce. And I really focus on making and cooking what we eat.

I always check the calendar first to see if we have dinner plans to see what we have going on, or potlucks, or anything else. Otherwise, I usually see what will work with our seasonal produce delivery box.

(Side note, Danielle uses Imperfect Produce, a produce delivery company that sends you ‘ugly’ produce for up to 50% off the normal price. Check to see if it’s available in your area)

Since I get to choose what’s in my box, I know what I’ll be receiving, so I break the week into two and plan from there, and I get the workweek first and then the weekends. Saturday is always a wild card. On that day, I try to plan for something, usually leftovers or whatever.

Ruthy: When you’re having an evening when the ish hits the fan, what’s your fave ‘grab from the fridge’ meal for a busy night?
Danielle: Quesadillas, since literally anything can go inside! It’s amazing, just anything you want, it seems (laugh). We don’t have a big freezer, so I have to make sure I plan for the things that go in our freezer, so that usually leaves me with leftovers that are perfect for a quesadilla.
Ruthy: We eat quesadillas all the time, too! Do you usually pan fry them or oven?
Danielle: Pan fry, almost always.
Ruthy: We do pizza quesadillas as well which is basically pizza toppings spread on a tortilla. My kids love it.
Danielle: We do that a lot too! We use a lot of tortillas, for burritos, enchiladas, breakfast tortillas, chop them up and put them for nachos. They’re so versatile.
Ruthy: So other than a quesadilla, when it comes to leftovers, do you typically play around and make something new with the old? Or when you have those leftovers you mentioned you plan on, do you just eat them as is?
Danielle: I like to make a quick casserole. There’s a version I do that includes leftover meat, leftover veggies, cooked noodles like egg noodles. Then I mix one egg, some greek yogurt, pesto or seasonings, and add some milk. And then just take a big bowl, throw it all in. Mix it all together, put it in the oven, and it’s a casserole! Though to be honest, sometimes it’s a crapshoot and we’re just going to see how it goes. Sometimes it turns out amazing!
Ruthy: So is the egg used as a binder or is it a cooked egg?
Danielle: Raw egg, as like a binder. Put it all in a bowl, put it in the oven, bake it and see what happens.
Ruthy: I love this! I don’t think I’ve ever done that concoction before, but I make a lot of casseroles. But I always make like, a bechamel sauce or something that takes a lot of time, and that sounds like it would be a lot faster.
Danielle: It is! You gotta try it.
Ruthy: Another thing a lot of my readers say they deal with is that they feel really overwhelmed with the idea of meal planning. Like, they have a hard time just starting. What would you say to that?
Danielle: I would say to try and meal plan on a different day from the day you start, if that makes sense. Start small. Don’t meal plan and meal prep on the same day because that makes it feel huge.
Honestly, it’s hard to demonstrate until you’ve tried it. And I try to say this to my readers too, is that, if you don’t follow the meal plan one day, don’t stop there. You just try again the next day and get something together.

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I loved this chat with Danielle! And I am fully, fully trying that casserole mixture she talks about.
What do you find intimidating about meal prep and meal planning? I’d love to hear your issues and thoughts in the comments!

For more on Danielle and to see what she shares on her blog in terms of meal planning, meal prep, and simple recipes, head to Project Meal Plan.
Thanks, Danielle!

7 Easy Steps for Meal Plan Beginners

I'm trying to meal plan for weight loss and adding clean eating into my diet but I was SO LOST at how to begin! This is a great list for anyone who is new to meal planning and meal prep and wants to take control of their shopping list, weekly food prep, and save money and your sanity at the same time! GREAT LIST! I'm trying to meal plan for weight loss and adding clean eating into my diet but I was SO LOST at how to begin! This is a great list for anyone who is new to meal planning and meal prep and wants to take control of their shopping list, weekly food prep, and save money and your sanity at the same time! GREAT LIST! I'm trying to meal plan for weight loss and adding clean eating into my diet but I was SO LOST at how to begin! This is a great list for anyone who is new to meal planning and meal prep and wants to take control of their shopping list, weekly food prep, and save money and your sanity at the same time! GREAT LIST! I'm trying to meal plan for weight loss and adding clean eating into my diet but I was SO LOST at how to begin! This is a great list for anyone who is new to meal planning and meal prep and wants to take control of their shopping list, weekly food prep, and save money and your sanity at the same time! GREAT LIST! I'm trying to meal plan for weight loss and adding clean eating into my diet but I was SO LOST at how to begin! This is a great list for anyone who is new to meal planning and meal prep and wants to take control of their shopping list, weekly food prep, and save money and your sanity at the same time! GREAT LIST! I'm trying to meal plan for weight loss and adding clean eating into my diet but I was SO LOST at how to begin! This is a great list for anyone who is new to meal planning and meal prep and wants to take control of their shopping list, weekly food prep, and save money and your sanity at the same time! GREAT LIST!

Meal planning and meal prep can feel overwhelming if you’re new to it, and believe me, I’ve been there! Here are 7 easy steps any meal planning beginner can sink their teeth into, without feeling totally lost in the process.

When I first started out meal planning, I was confused. I felt ‘tied down’ to some random list of recipes that I had arbitrarily decided on earlier that week. I’d write my meal plan on Saturday, and then by the time I got to Wednesday I would just throw the whole thing out the window and pick up the phone for takeout.

But alas, our budget is not to be trifled with, and this whole meal plan disaster thing wasn’t doing me any favors in the wallet or waistline. So I sat my butt down, and I read everything I could on meal planning, and eventually, I crafted myself an awesome little plan that worked gangbusters for our family. Are you new to meal planning, like I once was? It can feel archaic, and boring, I know, but that’s only if you’re using yo’ momma’s old school meal plan, and let me tell you: it’s a new century, bud, and meal planning has come up along with it. However, I also know that once there’s a solid plan in place, meal planning for beginners can usually just mean following a certain strategy of steps. And before you know it: you go from a meal planning beginner to a Master Meal Planner. Meal Planning Queen, if you prefer. Meal Planning Messiah. (Too far? Ok; we’ll stick with ‘master’)
But don’t take my word for it! I checked in with 6 other awesome bloggers and asked their advice for how to start meal planning if you’re new to it, what steps should you take first, and what to do once you’ve started to pull together a plan. They’ve all got awesome advice, some have handy printables, and they’re all in your corner. Here’s what they have to say!

If you’re a meal planning beginner, start with the basics.

(Yep, the first one is ME!) this is one of my favorite posts about meal planning on this site (and I have quite a few!). I break it down, step by step, how I started meal planning and what you can do to get your feet wet, too. Read: My Top Three Meal Planning Basics

Even if the recipes says it’s 30 minutes, figure out the real amount of time it will take.

Shelley, from Two Healthy Kitchens, knows the pain we’ve all felt when dealing with a “super quick omg!” recipe: it doesn’t always take the amount of time it says it will. So, figure out how to “read” a recipe right, work that into your timeframe, and you’ll have a better idea how to plan appropriately. Read: Estimating REAL Prep Times

If you hate writing meal plans, try theme nights.

I love this take from Tracy at Simple Living Country Gal. She says to keep a “go-to” list that she can refer to whenever she’s pressed for time. Don’t have a list written out? Ask your family’s input- they might remind you of a dish you can make super quick! Read: Make Dinner Time Easier Without a Meal Plan

Get your kitchen in order to make things run smoother

Jenny, at the Jenny Evolution, has a great list here of how to get your ducks in a row before you even put pen to paper; after all- what good is a meal plan if you can’t find your ingredients or cookware? Read: Easy Meal Planning For Busy Moms

Start with an easy-to-follow printable to write your meal plan on

Lena, from What Mommy Does, knows the basics of meal planning starts with actually writing the dang thing! I love her simple, easy-to-use meal planning printable with clearly defined spaces. Just click to save and download! Read: Free Printable Weekly Planning Template

When it comes to accommodating different family members, roll with it.

Rachel, at The Mashup Mom, touches on a pain point I think a lot of us have: what to do when your entire family isn’t down with the same eating schedule, diets, or preferences. She spells out steps you can take to mitigate the mess of trying to figure out what to feed everyone.. when everyone has different food needs! Read: How to Modify a Meal Plan for Your Family

Skip the processed stuff and work real food into your meal plan.

Elaina, from The Rising Spoon, has a list of 10 ways you can make sure your meal plan isn’t full of over-processed junk; without taking tons of time out of your week! I love her tip for leftovers (which are my fave, too!) Read: Ten Meal Planning Tips for Beginners Using Real Food

There you have it: 7 awesome tips for meal planning beginners, all designed to help you get groovin’ on your meal planning schedule!

Which was your favorite? I’m excited to get digging into my meal planning routine now! If you want to take a peek into what I’m cooking each week, then join my brand new member community: Busy Mamas Cooking In Tiny Kitchens! Each week I add in my own family meal plan so you can see what I’m cookin’ Also get access to what others are cooking, swap recipes, vent about picky eaters, and more. Leave your info below to join, and I hope to see you there!

Heck yes, that sounds awesome!

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Pick and Choose Chart for Kid’s Packed Lunches

Use these ideas to get your kid's packed lunch ideas flowing! Pick one thing from each section for each lunch packed and be sure your kids cover their food groups and enjoy their lunch at the same time. There's even space to add in your own favorites!

I may be new to the ‘kid’s packed lunch scene’, but it doesn’t mean I’m full of fresh ideas as to what I’m supposed to pack!

“Will she eat this? Is this even healthy? Wait, am I including enough food groups?” Seriously, packing a kids’ lunch shouldn’t be this dang stressful. And yet it’s one of my most dreaded chores.

My kids aren’t school age yet (my son is 1 and my daughter is 3) but three days a week, they go to a babysitter/daycare situation from 9-5, and they bring a packed lunch with them on those days.

I do this so I can actually get, you know, work done.

I send them off (despite working from home) so that I can actually work, instead of, say, losing my mind or temper or plonking them in front of the T.V. for eight straight hours. It’s a win-win for everyone, and they absolutely adore their babysitter.

I make their packed lunches the night before, while I’m cleaning up after dinner but before I put leftovers away. I find that if I try to cram in packed lunch prep in the morning, I usually forget something – plus, it’s way too stressful! We have enough morning time battles to fight, such as trying to brush my daughter’s hair without her running away from me. Ain’t nobody got time to deal with lunch making, too.

Use these ideas to get your kid's packed lunch ideas flowing! Pick one thing from each section for each lunch packed and be sure your kids cover their food groups and enjoy their lunch at the same time. There's even space to add in your own favorites!(click the image to pin straight to Pinterest!)

I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way regarding these packed lunches:

  • Try to only have one food group item at a time (so, say- one piece of fruit, one vegetable, protein, etc)
  • Cheese sticks are my very best friend
  • Those reusable baby food pouches I bought too many of when my daughter was just getting into solids? Those are the perfect vehicle for applesauce.
  • My daughter tends to try more things at the babysitter’s house, so this is prime time to add in things like green beans, roasted broccoli, dried apricots, etc. She lives by the credo, “If it’s from mom, it’s gross. If it’s from the babysitter, I should try it!” So, I totally take advantage of this.
  • Leftovers are my other bff after cheese sticks. The nights before the kids go to the babysitter, I try to cook a dinner that is easily ‘leftover-able”. This saves me time and money, stretching a meal out this way!

Want some great ideas for a simple recipe you can make at home that works fabulously in kids’ packed lunches?

Check out this Facebook Live I did, where I made 15-Minute Peanut Satay Chicken Skewers and Broccoli Pesto Pasta.

Percolate Kitchen on Facebook Live: 2 Easy Back to School Packed Lunch Ideas

( Plus, I share my faaaaavorite reusable food containers, from Kids Konserve. They’re leakproof and practically indestructible! )

But wait! I went one step further, and created this handy little ‘Pick and Choose Packed Lunch’ cheat sheet for you! 🙌

Guys, this takes SO MUCH of the thought process out of planning and packing kid’s lunches. Add in a few extra options that your kid’s like; make it personal to you and your family.

Then, when it’s time to take care of the kid’s packed lunch, just pick one item from each section on the chart. Add it to the lunchbox, zip that sucker up, and toss it in the fridge or backpack.

It could.

Not.

Be.

Easier.

Well, easier if you had like, a maid to do this stuff for you. But you know what I mean.

Anyway, the download’s FREE!! No strings attached, no email to hand over. Just click and save and go about your merry little lunch-packing way.

Enjoy the school year!

Click here for the straight-up pdf version. Or, click the image below to download!

Use these ideas to get your kid's packed lunch ideas flowing! Pick one thing from each section for each lunch packed and be sure your kids cover their food groups and enjoy their lunch at the same time. There's even space to add in your own favorites!

You might also like: 

 How To Cook ‘Family Meal; Just Like a Chef 

3 Reasons Why You Need Better Kitchen Organization

The 5 Minute Meal Plan (Quick Cooking Tips #1)

How I Got Started Meal Planning (and how you can, too!)

I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.

I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.

I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.

I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.

I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.

 I used to think meal planning was a waste of time. Wrong! Once I nailed how to start meal planning for my family, our lives got easier! Read on to find the steps you can take that will get you planning like a meal planning master.

Real talk: I used to think meal planning was stupid and a waste of time.

When it came right down to it, my biggest problem was that I really didn’t know where to even begin meal planning:

What if I didn’t want to eat what I had planned?

What if I made too much food?

What if we decided to meet friends that night instead?

What if something else sounded better at the grocery store? 

Couldn’t I just wing it?

Now, I look back at myself and laugh; meal planning has, if anything, made my life easier! Now I know what I will be spending that week at the grocery store, I know what we’re having for dinner that night, and I know just how I can ‘pivot’ to a different dish if something comes up or we change our minds last minute.

While I thought meal planning was hemming me in, it was really freeing me up in ways I could never have expected.

I’ve been writing on this page about just how I plan meals for our week since I started it, in 2016. But my meal planning journey began after my first daughter began eating solid food, when I was tired of throwing meals together at the end of an already long day, and hated how I would sometimes reach for the easiest thing to give her when I didn’t feel like cooking (she ate a lot of banana and avocado dinners back then)

In this post, I’ll be dropping all that knowledge into one big, fat list.

If you’re new to meal planning, there’s info here to get you going. If you’re in a rut, I got you covered there, too. And if you just need some inspo to figure out what the heck you’re actually cooking this week, I have cheat sheets and idea lists galore!

For those ready to begin meal planning:

My Top Three Meal Planning Basics

Comes with a free printable template, which is super handy. I hung it up on my fridge. I like the way she breaks this down for any meal plan beginner, with different meal planning tips and step-by-step how to start a meal plan.

This Is the Ultimate Pantry Essentials Checklist

Here's a list of all the pantry essential staples that every cook should have! This is a great starter list for people looking to begin meal planning, too. With a stocked pantry, you can always whip up a quick dinner!

How to Start Meal Planning

I really didn't know where to begin with meal planning for my family, but this was a great place to start. She's got some good ideas in here!


How to Decide What To Cook

9 Best Quick and Easy Cookbooks Every Busy Cook Needs

Cook ‘Family Meal’ Just Like a Chef

I never thought about how professional chefs know how to make family meals on a budget- but it makes sense! She's got some really good ideas in the checklist, too. It helped me cut our grocery budget big time!

‘Don’t Throw That Out!’ Repurposing Leftover Ingredients

Stop! Don't throw it out; follow this guide to reusing leftover food. Here's a huge list of ideas, with downloadable recipes & an easy infographic.

 


If You Meal Plan Already, But Want Inspiration

The 5 Minute Meal Plan

How I create my '5 minute meal plan' each week, using a super simple system! Once you have it set up, you won't believe how easy it is to use.

How to Get Out of a Meal Planning Rut

Stuck in a meal planning rut and sick of eating the same foods all the time? We've got some tips and tricks for jazzing up your meal plan so you're excited about weeknight dinners again!

The Fastest Way to Convert Recipes from Metric to Imperial (and vice-versa!)

Looking to convert recipes from metric to imperial measurements? Or even imperial to metric measurements? This handy chart will help translate, plus there's frequently used conversions like gallongs into ounces, baking pan size conversion, and more!


I hope these will be helpful for all you meal planning beginners!

If you’re interested in receiving free, quick, simple recipes you can make that night, don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list – the box is below. Happy eating!

Here’s How to Snap out of a Meal Planning Rut (tips, tricks, & recipes!)

We've all been there: bored with the same rotation of meals, night after night and in need of new meal planning ideas. Thankfully, Tiffany from Don't Waste the Crumbs has some good tips for snapping out of the meal planning rut and getting some fresh recipes into your kitchen!

We've all been there: bored with the same rotation of meals, night after night and in need of new meal planning ideas. Thankfully, Tiffany from Don't Waste the Crumbs has some good tips for snapping out of the meal planning rut and getting some fresh recipes into your kitchen!

We've all been there: bored with the same rotation of meals, night after night and in need of new meal planning ideas. Thankfully, Tiffany from Don't Waste the Crumbs has some good tips for snapping out of the meal planning rut and getting some fresh recipes into your kitchen!

We've all been there: bored with the same rotation of meals, night after night and in need of new meal planning ideas. Thankfully, Tiffany from Don't Waste the Crumbs has some good tips for snapping out of the meal planning rut and getting some fresh recipes into your kitchen!

We've all been there: bored with the same rotation of meals, night after night and in need of new meal planning ideas. Thankfully, Tiffany from Don't Waste the Crumbs has some good tips for snapping out of the meal planning rut and getting some fresh recipes into your kitchen!We've all been there: bored with the same rotation of meals, night after night and in need of new meal planning ideas. Thankfully, Tiffany from Don't Waste the Crumbs has some good tips for snapping out of the meal planning rut and getting some fresh recipes into your kitchen!

Stuck in a meal planning rut and sick of eating the same foods all the time? We've got some tips and tricks for jazzing up your meal plan so you're excited about weeknight dinners again!

Welcome back to the next post in my “Ask an Expert” series!

This week, we’re talking about: How do you get out of a meal planning rut?

Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs has a few good ideas on how you can jumpstart your creativity when you’re feeling stuck!

Her site is awesome for those who are trying to save money, utilize everything we’ve got in our fridges and pantries, cook fresh, wholesome (mostly organic) foods for our families… and not break the bank in the meantime!

I love Tiffany’s email newsletter because she’s always sharing something that is actually helpful.

If you’re not signed up for her emails, I really recommend that you go do so right now. I’ve been a subscriber for a while now, and I genuinely look forward to her emails! It’s never just an update or a push to buy something, but genuine ideas to get you cooking fresh food and while saving money, too.

And I love her idea of banishing the meal planning rut, down after the jump. I’m totally going to start doing her idea now!

 Please note this interview has been edited slightly for clarity.

(more…)

The 5 Minute Meal Plan

This is hands down the simplest way to organize your recipes and then to make your meal plan so fast! She gives step-by-step instructions for setting up Evernote to hold all your recipes, organize them, and then how to access them super fast so you can just bang out a super fast meal plan in 5 minutes.

This is hands down the simplest way to organize your recipes and then to make your meal plan so fast! She gives step-by-step instructions for setting up Evernote to hold all your recipes, organize them, and then how to access them super fast so you can just bang out a super fast meal plan in 5 minutes.

This is hands down the simplest way to organize your recipes and then to make your meal plan so fast! She gives step-by-step instructions for setting up Evernote to hold all your recipes, organize them, and then how to access them super fast so you can just bang out a super fast meal plan in 5 minutes.

This is hands down the simplest way to organize your recipes and then to make your meal plan so fast! She gives step-by-step instructions for setting up Evernote to hold all your recipes, organize them, and then how to access them super fast so you can just bang out a super fast meal plan in 5 minutes.

This is hands down the simplest way to organize your recipes and then to make your meal plan so fast! She gives step-by-step instructions for setting up Evernote to hold all your recipes, organize them, and then how to access them super fast so you can just bang out a super fast meal plan in 5 minutes. How I create my '5 minute meal plan' each week, using a super simple system! Once you have it set up, you won't believe how easy it is to use. How I create my '5 minute meal plan' each week, using a super simple system! Once you have it set up, you won't believe how easy it is to use.

I’m spilling my favorite secret today with my ‘5 Minute Meal Plan’ tip!

Today I thought I would share one of my favorite time saving, quick meal planning ‘hacks’. It’s Evernote, the cloud-based note-taking app! I’m going to break down, step-by-step, how I use this super simple app and program. Then you, too, can work a super quick 5 minute meal plan! 

My Evernote system is something I use regularly when I’m making my own family’s meal plans, and I also use it when I create my customized meal plans.

It’s nothing special or crazy or complicated, but you do need a smartphone to fully pull it off.

I use Evernote to store all my recipes.

No binders or recipe card boxes here!

If you’ve never used or heard of Evernote, I urge you to check it out! It’s a cloud-based list-making app, and it is so powerful. Since it’s based in the cloud, it will take up very little room on your phone, tablet, or computer. Yet it has the capacity to store thousands, if not millions, of your recipes. 

Here’s a quick rundown on how I have my Evernote set up:

First, I created a handful of ‘notebooks’ in recipe categories I knew I’d use often, like Dinner, Snacks, and Salads.

Then, I added all my recipes I had bookmarked online and on my computer, dividing them into the correct folders.

(if you use Chrome as your browser, the Evernote Web Clipper Extension is a huge help for the online stuff!)

For recipes I had stored outside of the computer (think recipes ripped out of magazines, recipe cards, even some favorite cookbook recipes)

I use the camera scanner within the Evernote app on my phone. Guys, this is my favorite part of the whole Evernote program.

You can use their app camera to snap a picture of anything and it will store it whichever way you want; as a pdf, a scan, an image.

Using the Evernote camera, you can crop images right there in the app and write notes on them, too.

If you’ve got, say, a recipe card that has a front or a back, you can save each image separately within the same “note”.

Here’s what that looks like ——>

And it helps a ton with clutter; after I scanned in all my scribbled recipes and ripped-out-of-magazines-recipes and such, I carefully put away the recipe cards that meant something to me, like the ones in my Grandma’s handwriting. Then I recycled the rest.

Evernote is so handy for saving everything you need, especially recipes!

Now, when I sit down on Saturday afternoon to decide what we’re going to be eating that week, I get it all done with a quick 5-minute meal plan. And Evernote makes that super simple. As long as I’ve got my phone, everything I need is accessible!

Another great thing about Evernote is the search function is incredibly powerful.

It makes it really easy to browse through a specific category and pull recipes out really quickly.

Evernote’s search capabilities will even scan handwriting, so you just have to save the image and it’ll come up in search! How cool is that?

For example, say I know I’ve got some chicken breasts that need to be eaten that week. I’ll type “chicken breasts” into the search function of Evernote, and it pulls up all the recipes I have in there that use chicken breasts. Then I pick what fits best into our meal plan!

Another bonus? When I’m in the kitchen and I want to cook from a specific recipe, I’ll just prop my phone or tablet up and open the Evernote app. Then I cook right from there; no dragging out cookbooks! It’s super handy when I travel, too.

I know this is a bit of work at first setting it up, but I really hope you’ll try it. Once you’ve got a system down, it’s crazy easy to add recipes in, no matter where you find them.

Have you used Evernote? Do you have another super easy system for saving your recipes? I’d love to hear from you!

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